9. Safety Tips for Operating Your Gas Fireplace
- If your fireplace is installed in a home during construction or renovation, do not operate it until the area is thoroughly cleaned. Drywall dust and other contaminants can harm the fan, motors and burners.
- Check the manufacturer's instructions before adding or modifying a mantle or surround (minimum clearances are required).
- 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.
- Keep combustibles away from hot surfaces during operation.
- If the pilot light or flame goes out, wait five minutes or longer (see the manufacturer's instructions) before attempting to relight the fireplace. This allows time to clear the fireplace of gas and is particularly important with direct-vent models.
- Be alert for unusual odours or flames, which are often a sign that the fireplace is not operating properly. In such cases, contact your dealer for servicing. Contact the gas company if you smell gas.
- Make sure that air-circulating passageways and fans are kept clean and free from obstruction.
- Wait for the unit to cool completely before wiping the glass with a damp cloth (otherwise, you can cause thermal stress and breakage).
- If the glass breaks, have a qualified service technician replace it with glass supplied by the manufacturer.
- With sidewall-exhausting, direct-vent units, keep the external vent clear of debris and snow at all times, and maintain the manufacturer's minimum clearances between the vent and fences, shrubs and walkways, etc.
- If you do not have a sealed direct-vent fireplace, consider installing a carbon monoxide detector near the fireplace. These devices continually monitor the air for carbon monoxide and sound an alarm when high levels are detected, just as a smoke detector will signal the possible existence of a fire (all Canadian homes should already be properly equipped with smoke detectors). If your carbon monoxide detector goes off, open the windows, shut the fireplace off and leave the house immediately. If anyone experiences headaches, extreme lethargy or nausea during such an occurrence, he or she should immediately seek medical treatment. It is also critical that you determine the source and cause of the high carbon monoxide levels and have the situation remedied by a professional.
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