David Trusty at Piedmont Natural Gas says he hasn’t fired up his own gas logs for the season, but he might not wait much longer. “Like our customers, I start thinking about (gas logs) with the first little bit of cold snap ... And they’d feel good this week.”
Indeed, they’d feel great.
Don’t get in such a hurry to break the chill that you ignore some basic seasonal maintenance, though. Modern gas logs don’t take much care, but a little is a good idea. You want to make sure your logs are operating properly before firing them up.
Trusty suggested that you start by making sure your pilot light and vent – if you have vented logs – are clear of dust and anything else that might block them. Check and clean them following the manufacturer’s guidelines.
Vacuum the logs with a soft brush, or clean as instructed in your owner’s manual.
You’ll find helpful advice online, but you need to know a bit about your own logs to know which applies.
Are your logs vented or vent free? Also, Trusty points out, customers use logs in many different ways: Some logs are decorative, while others are burned for longer periods to provide heat. The best advice depends on lots of factors.
As I’ve written before, the owner’s manual is the best place to start – and, these days, the manual is only a click away. If you can’t find the manual for your logs in your kitchen junk drawer, just confirm your make and model number and visit the manufacturer’s website.
If you’re a Piedmont customer and are concerned that your logs aren’t working properly, call the company’s Service Plus line at 1-877-279-3636. If you’re not a customer, call your own propane or natural gas provider.
If you’ve owned gas logs for a while, you might know most of the safety rules. So just consider this list a gentle reminder:
• Some manufacturers recommend cleaning the pilot flame tube with compressed air or computer keyboard cleaner, but they also warn that you shouldn’t insert anything into the tube.
• Experts say vent-free logs shouldn’t be burned more than two hours at a stretch – but I think that’s too long. Never go to bed with them burning.
• Moisture is a byproduct of combustion. So if water starts to condense on the windows, it’s time to turn the logs off and let some fresh air into the room. Many users crack a window anytime they operate vent-free logs.
• It’s important that logs are positioned properly, and soot on a log is a hint that it’s out of place. Check your owner’s manual and be sure the logs are positioned correctly.
• Burning candles or oil lamps while the logs are burning is a bad idea. That can create soot. You shouldn’t smoke while operating your logs for the same reason. (But, then, you shouldn’t smoke any time.)
• A ceiling fan should blow upward in the winter and can help distribute the heat evenly when turning slowly. But make sure the fan isn’t disrupting the log flame.
• Change batteries in carbon monoxide detectors when you prepare your logs for the coming season.