Gas Logs Warming the Home and Hearth
Gas log sets are a great compliment to your fireplace. If your short on patience but long for the ambiance of a burning fire, gas logs may be the answer.
A fireplace can be the most appreciated part of a home providing a feeling of warmth and comfort for the soul. It is the perfect backdrop for a formal dinner or while enjoying a cup of coffee and a good book. A burning fire can transform a cold, uninviting room into the most popular spot of the house. There are many styles on the market today, from easy-to-maintain electric wall mounted fireplaces to the more cozy rustic style wood-burning heaters like these by Stoves4Life which are always popular in the UK.
However, starting, tending and putting out a wood fire could be more work than it’s worth. From damp unseasoned firewood that’s near impossible to start, to renegade sparks that could potentially set your home on fire! Who needs it!
Gas fired logs could be the answer. You will not get the smell or dynamic flame of a wood fire but are those really negatives?
The hardest part of converting to gas is running the line into the fireplace. While this may be expensive do not let it stop you from getting a free estimate from a licensed plumber. Most lines are installed through the ash dump, a chute which runs from the floor of your fireplace down into a basement. Typically the shoot terminates in boiler room where there is easy access to the gas lines. From here a plumber can tap one of these lines and run it through the ash dump into the firebox. Do not be discouraged if you do not have a ash dump or if you have propane gas, a good plumber will find a way to get a gas line into the firebox.
With such a large selection, choosing a gas log set can be a daunting task. Let me share a few tips to help narrow down your selection.
Most fireplaces will either take a 18″ or 24″ set. The two most popular types of logs are ceramic and ceramic fiber. Ceramic logs are dense and tend to radiate heat. Ceramic fiber will appear to be on fire and will glow. Fiber logs are very fragile and must be handled gently.
Choose a log set with the most natural looking logs. Look for detailed bark, consistent coloring and multiple pieces. Pick a set with a split front log instead of a solid log; you can pull the pieces apart for a better view of the fire. Remember you are purchasing fire, so why hide it behind a large static log?
Gas log ignition options
The valve is the most important part of your purchase and can mean the difference between a £150.00 set and one costing £1000.00. The valve controls the flow of gas and its ignition. There are different versions of valves. A manual valve is the most basic and works by turning a knob, releasing gas lit by a match. When shopping you will see words like pilot and IPI. A pilot is a continuous flame that acts like an ignition source for the burner and also acts as a failsafe. A burning pilot keeps the valve open so if the pilot shuts off it forces the gas valve to shut down as well, preventing the release of gas.
An IPI system is similar in many ways. When the log set is ignited it turns on a pilot which ignites the log set. The difference is when the log set is turned off the pilot is extinguished as well. In an IPI system there is no unattended flame when the unit is off.
The more advanced valve you purchase, the easier it will be to ignite the flame. A manual valve, as the name implies, will be started by hand. Most piloted and IPI systems can be outfitted with a remote control that could even control flame height.
Most sets come with glowing embers; clumps of ceramic fiber resembling fallen pieces of cut hair. They are placed below the logs on top of the burner and glow like fallen embers during a fire.
There are many accessories available like wood chips, pine cones, and lava rocks that help fill in empty space. Cracklers are also available to duplicate the comforting sound of a fire.
Maintenance is pretty simple. Keep the flue swept, spiders out of the burner tubes and fresh batteries in the remote and your unit will run consistently for a long time.
You’re still burning a fire that must be vented, so remember to open your damper. Expect a heat output similar to what a wood fire would produce in the same fireplace. Though they are not meant to be heating devices some sets will generate more radiant heat than others.
Ultimately a gas fire will give you instant atmosphere whenever you want it to, and can be extinguished with the flick of a switch. So sit back, relax, pay your gas bill and enjoy the best of a wood fire without all the hassle.