Spring cleaning? Check your fireplace

It seems like a quick and easy part of spring cleaning. Wiping down the glass panel of your gas fireplace, cleaning the pilot or burner, and maybe repositioning the logs. But if you’re thinking about doing it yourself, think again. You could be putting you and your family at risk, warns Technical Safety BC.  

“Many people think they can clean and service fireplaces themselves,” says Ron Herrington, a Senior Gas Safety Officer. “After all, glass cleaners are available from most fireplace shops and big box stores. However, it’s very important to replace the glass panel properly. We had an incident about a year and a half ago where the glass panel was not in place and resulted in a fire.”

Moving the logs can result in another potentially hazardous mistake. “If you reposition the logs incorrectly, you can get delayed ignition on the main burner, or put the logs in the flame itself,” he says. “Soot then builds up on the logs, the glass, or on the burner.”

Homeowners should also know where to find the make and model of their gas fireplace. This is found by looking for the rating plate, usually behind a small door at the bottom of the fireplace. Case in point: in January 2017, Health Canada issued an advisory to owners of certain natural gas and propane fireplaces manufactured by Security Fireplace. The identified models experienced delayed ignition conditions which resulted in small gas explosions. The  glass doors failed, sending glass fragments into the living space.

“If you have the model Health Canada warned about, contact a licensed gas technician for disconnection and disposal immediately,” says Herrington, directing homeowners to use the Technical Safety BC website to find a licenced gas contractor or to contact a fireplace retailer for a recommendation. All gas appliance and electrical installation work in BC requires a permit from Technical Safety BC or, in the case of Burnaby, Kelowna, North Vancouver, Richmond, Vancouver and Maple Ridge, directly from the municipality.

“In the fall, everybody is looking at turning their fireplaces on, so gas contractors are busy. Beat the rush and find a gas contractor now,” says Herrington. 

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