How to Clean Soot from a Gas Log Set

Category: Fireplace

Most individuals feel their homes to be cozier when they have a fireplace. It's because it has both aesthetic and functional features. You can use it for warmth and as a home décor. In addition, gas inserts are becoming increasingly common in newer houses. They are more convenient than wood-burning ones and need little maintenance.

Gas fireplaces and fire-log sets are designed to create yellow flames with little soot buildup. If you see a buildup of soot in your gas fireplace, you have a problem that must be addressed; however, if you discover the soot problem early, you can prevent it from becoming a serious issue.

soot buildup on gas logs

Causes of Soot Build-up

The two main reasons for soot buildup are inappropriately positioned fire logs and clogged burner ports. A misaligned fire log might hinder the flame path, preventing clean gas combustion. This leads to the production of soot on the hearth.

Clogged gas burner ports are another major source of soot. It causes an imbalanced or incomplete burn, which allows soot to accumulate on the doors and logs. In addition, the burner will eventually degrade due to aging. When this happens, they emit gas differently than when they were new, and the gas combustion can be improper, causing soot to build up. Fire logs may also crack or break, producing problems similar to incorrect installation.

Another possibility is that your fireplace's exhaust vent or chimney has become clogged. If you cannot detect the problem, call your gas supplier to check the gas regulator to find any fault.

Cleaning the Soot

If your fireplace logs have accumulated significant soot, it's time to clean them. Cleaning your fireplace logs can keep your fireplace looking attractive and running correctly. However, serious safety and cleanliness precautions must be taken throughout this process.

vacuuming up soot from a gas log fireplace

Following are the steps to clean soot off the gas logs:

Turn Off the Gas

Before cleaning any gas fireplace logs, switch off the appliance's gas supply. Also, turn off the gas valve for at least 20 minutes before cleaning your logs. If you have ceramic fiber, you need to handle them with great care because these logs are very delicate. If you're unsure about the material, remember that ceramic fiber is exceedingly light and has a foam sensation when touched.

Remember to turn off your fireplace completely, including the pilot light. This will protect you from hot wood, open flames, and hazardous gases. Your ceramic fireplace logs absorb and radiate heat, so a lighted pilot light may not seem a great concern. But there can be a danger of getting burnt if the fireplace is not completely turned off.

Remove Logs

Remove the logs one by one, and make sure to take a picture of a layout of the logs or see the layout in the manual if possible. This will help you place the logs in the right position later. It is recommended to wear gloves while you remove logs to prevent soot from getting on your hands.

Place a drop cloth, newspaper, or any disposable material under the logs so that the soot is not transferred to the floor or any house furniture. You can use stiff horsehair or a ceramic bristle brush to sweep the soot and dirt off the gas log gently.

Additionally, you can use a vacuum with a soft-bristled brush attachment. The bristles will help remove soot and debris, which the vacuum will then vacuum up. Using a vacuum is much time saving than using a manual brush.

Avoid Chemical Cleaners

On your fireplace logs, never use a chemical cleaning or solvent. These may not only harm or discolor your logs but can also be explosive, emit fumes when burned, or produce excessive soot accumulation. In most circumstances, fireplace logs should only be cleaned using dry tools. Water can only be used to clean specific kinds of logs. For example, ceramic logs are best cleaned with the wet method.

Use a Dry Washcloth

Wipe off your fireplace logs with a dry towel or microfiber cloth. A microfiber cloth may be used to wipe away soot and other deposits from the surface of the wood. It's also soft enough that it won't scratch the log's surface.

a woman wiping up soot from a gas log fireplace

If the soot is stubborn, you can use a soft towel after dipping it in lukewarm water. Check your owner's manual to ensure that this procedure is permitted. If you are doubtful, try the cloth in an inconspicuous location, such as the backside of one log. If soot has accumulated in tiny crevices, use a soft-bristled paintbrush or cotton swab to remove it.

Use a Soft Scrub

If you have severe soot accumulation on your fireplace logs, you may need to use a more intensive cleaning approach. You can use a gentle scrub brush that is soft enough to clean ceramic logs without damaging them. If you use a stiff bristle brush, it will scratch the log or peel off its polish.

Clean the Main Burner

Follow the gas tubing on the ground as it enters the burner where the logs are placed. The tube will have a hole or gap near where it joins the burner. This is the point at which air and gas mix. Clear it out using a compressor or compressed air.

Prevent Soot Accumulation On your Gas Log

Firstly, it is important to ensure that the logs are positioned properly. Logs should keep the air supply to the fireplace. It would be best to routinely clean your fireplace to prevent burner ports from clogging.

rearranging your gas logs to prevent soot buildup

If your gas fireplace suggests using sand and embers, remember that it serves a purpose and isn't simply for display. Soot buildup will stop or decrease if you properly cover the burners. Using incompatible cleaning chemicals can also create a black appearance on your gas logs; therefore, it is advised to use suitable cleaners according to your fireplace manual.

Your gas fireplace logs are becoming black due to the accumulation of soot. This occurs naturally in vented gas fireplaces. However, soot generation may be accelerated if the logs are improperly positioned, the air-to-fuel ratio is wrong, the burners are not covered with sand or embers, the burner ports are blocked, or the burner set is old and rusted. Cleaning liquids and sprays can also leave a black residue on your gas logs. 

It is necessary to clean your gas fireplace regularly to prevent soot accumulation. Depending on the severity of the problem, you may have to clean your fireplace once a week or once a month. Before choosing a cleaning plan, it is essential to consult a professional.

It is recommended to clean the soot with a dry and soft rag unless the soot is very difficult to remove. Lukewarm water can be used to remove excess soot. Cleaners can only be used if it is allowed in the user's manual; otherwise, they should be avoided. Cotton swabs and bristle paintbrushes can remove soot clinging to the crevices.

Finally, the remaining soot may be vacuumed out. This will prevent the soot from spreading throughout the house. Make sure to put the logs back in the proper layout. Any suspected issues should be addressed immediately by an expert. These concerns, if overlooked, may lead to safety risks such as carbon monoxide poisoning and excess soot combustion.

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