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Personal: Residential

Using Your Gas Fireplace Safely and Efficiently

In a large space, such as a home, a gas fireplace is not an efficient primary heating source. An energy-efficient furnace is usually a better choice. If you plan to use a gas fireplace as a secondary heat source, however, the EnerGuide label can help you find the most efficient model for your purpose. An efficient gas fireplace can lower a home's overall energy consumption and heating bills when located in a major living area where the heat can get to other parts of the house. The EnerGuide label for gas fireplaces is found in fireplace promotional materials, such as sales brochures, or on Web sites.

In a New Home

  • Make sure the area around the fireplace is thoroughly cleaned before you turn on the fireplace for the first time. Drywall dust and other contaminants can harm the fan, motors and burners.
  • Have your fireplace inspected before its initial use, and continue to have it serviced on a regular basis.
  • Carefully read the manufacturer's instructions before operating the fireplace for the first time.

Routine Maintenance

  • Check the manufacturer's instructions before adding or modifying a mantle or surround.
  • If the pilot light goes out, wait at least five minutes before attempting to relight it.
  • Wait for the unit to cool completely before wiping the glass with a damp cloth.

Safety Tips

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector near your fireplace (unless you have a sealed direct-vent unit).
  • Be alert for unusual odours or flames – signs that your fireplace is not working properly. If you smell gas, contact your gas company immediately. If servicing is needed, call your dealer or a qualified technician.
  • Keep fans and air-circulating passageways clean and clear.
  • Keep children and combustibles away from hot surfaces during operation.
  • For direct-vent units, keep external wall vents clear of debris and snow at all times.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Because modern houses are more airtight and have more powerful air-exhausting systems, there is a greater chance that combustion products – sometimes containing deadly carbon monoxide gas – will build up to dangerous levels. A certified carbon monoxide detector located close to fuel-fired appliances (such as furnaces, fireplaces, space heaters, wood stoves and gas or propane refrigerators) will signal a potentially dangerous situation that must be corrected immediately.

Symptoms of low-level carbon monoxide poisoning are similar to those of the flu – headaches, lethargy and nausea. If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, leave your home immediately, call your gas distribution company and seek medical attention.

If you operate a conventional wood-burning fireplace (which can often leak carbon monoxide), install a carbon monoxide detector near the fireplace.

Efficiency Tips

  • If your fireplace has a pilot light, shut it during the summer and whenever you are not using the fireplace frequently.
  • When the fireplace is operating, turn down your home's main thermostat when possible.
  • If the fireplace is controlled by a thermostat, keep it at the lowest setting possible for an acceptable comfort level. Turn it right down when the fireplace is not in use.
  • Keep the viewing glass clean to maximize radiant heat transfer.