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Here are a few simple gas log safety tips to help you enjoy your gas logs responsibly for years to come:
Installing a set of gas logs is not a do-it-yourself job. If installed incorrectly, gas logs can leak gas or carbon monoxide into your home, or fill your room with soot. A professional will know how to avoid these hazards, and you won't have to worry about any of those problems as long as you find a trained professional to install your gas logs.
In general, requirements for installation of gas logs are similar throughout the country, but there can be significant differences from place to place. For example, it is illegal to install a set of vent-free gas logs in the state of California. Unfortunately, there is no centralized source to find local gas log regulations. If you have a question about local regulations, the best person to ask is a local fuel provider, building code professional, or installation professional.
Some retailers will sell you a set of gas logs without a safety pilot. The lighting system on this sort of set is called a "match light" system, and is less expensive than a safety pilot. However, without a safety pilot assembly, it is very easy for you to turn off the flame to your gas log set and still have gas seeping into your home. This could go on for hours before you noticed the leak, creating a dangerous situation. A safety pilot eliminates this hazard by shutting off the gas valve whenever there is no flame. In addition, when you keep the safety pilot lit between uses of your gas logs, you can fire them up again with the turn of a knob. At FastFireplaces.com, we believe that a safety pilot is absolutely necessary for the safe operation of your gas logs, and we will not sell a gas log set unless it comes with a safety pilot.
A carbon monoxide detector is a good thing to have in your home even if you don't own a set of gas logs, since many home appliances can produce this toxic gas. If you own a set of gas logs, though, a CO detector is a must. This is more of a concern with vent free gas logs than with vented gas logs, since much of the CO produced by vented gas logs will go up your chimney, but if your flue is not opened properly or your chimney is blocked by something (soot buildup, bird's nest, Santa Claus, etc.) then burning your vented gas logs could still be filling your home with CO. If you're buying a set of vent-free gas logs, we highly recommend purchasing an Oxygen Depletion Sensor (ODS) system with your set. This device automatically shuts off your gas logs if the oxygen content of the air gets too low. An ODS sensor is about an $85 item, but is well worth the cost in terms of safety and peace of mind.
With a wood fire, it's common to throw things other than wood onto the fire, since it all turns into ash eventually. This should never be done with a set of gas logs. It is very important for their proper operation that your gas logs burn cleanly, and this means that you should never throw anything into your gas log fire. If a foreign object melts over the burner, the burner can become partially clogged, which could result in greater production of soot and inefficient burning and heating. Gas logs are NOT for burning wood, roasting marshmallows, or for any other sort of cooking, they are for looks only.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) determines safety standards for most residential heating products, including gas logs. Ordinarily, if a gas log set is ANSI-certified, the manufacturer or retailer will tell you in the product description. If you're unsure about whether a set of gas logs is ANSI certified, give the manufacturer or the retailer a call and ask.
When properly operated by an adult, gas logs are a safe and efficient way to warm and beautify a room. In the hands of a child, though, this fireplace appliance could be very dangerous. Just as children should not be playing with matches or the stove, they should not be playing with a set of gas logs, either.