What’s a gas log fireplace?

Most wood burning fireplaces are pretty simple. You have a firebox, damper and a chimney to direct the smoke the fire makes up and out of the house. If starting a wood fire is something you like to do, you’re in good shape. But what if the hassle of burning wood gets old? One option is to install a gas log, which is basically a tube with holes in it, and some fake logs. The gas is lit, the logs glow and you have a fire that burns without needing fresh wood.

So what’s the problem?

The problem comes when the damper is closed, and carbon monoxide gets into the house.

With a wood fire, you know the damper is closed, because smoke comes out. If the damper is closed with a gas fire, deadly carbon monoxide can enter the room. Because CO is invisible, you don’t know about it. There is supposed to be a clamp attached to the damper to keep it from fully closing. The problem with that is that the conditioned air now goes up the chimney, which wastes energy.

The bottom line is that for energy savings an personal safety, I recommend removing the gas log with a gas fireplace insert.

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About the author

Joe has many years of experience as a Home Inspector. Joe is a proud member of ASHI, MAHI, WAHI & SAAR. He follows the Best Practices as described by the American Association of Home Inspectors and the Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors. He is licensed in Wisconsin and is Radon Certified. Joe also complies with ASHI's Code of Ethics.

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