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2 sided gas fireplace and gas odor

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by Winebrats, Nov 30, 2009.

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  1. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    Hi all. We are new to the world of Natural Gas. Just bought a house with it for hot water, stovetop and a fireplace. The fireplace is a 2 sided fireplace and one of the sides is to the outside. We had a 2 sided gas insert installed and it looks beautiful. The installer said to expect a gas smell the first few time we use it until it is "broken in". I still smell gas. It's not overwhelming and you faintly notice it when you are inside, but if you go outside and come back in, I think it is very noticable. Is this normal? Am I going to be poisoned? Blow up?

    When we use it, we open both sets of doors (glass) and the thing is open to the chimney (flu?). I've read that the odor is from an odorance (?) of the fuel mixing(??) but I am borderline against using the fireplace because of the odor...any feedback would be appreciated.

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  2. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Its not an "insert" it is a gas log set. And you should never smell gas, not even when its new. First of all any gas coming out should get burnt, and if anything doesn't it should be going up the flue. Do you have the damper fixed / locked open 100%? Did the installer do a spill test on to make sure no exhaust was spilling into the room? Do you have a CO detector?

    Not sure why that original wood fireplace was put half inside and half outside, its not made to be. I guess in your climate you don't mind having a giant hole in the side of the house? You don't have much problems with rust down there either do you?
  3. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    I'll have the installer come back out and check. We do have a CO detector and the damper is open all the way.

    It's actually all inside, just glass doors that open to the outside as well, 2 sets of doors, one in and one out. It's noce sitting outside with the fire on "cool" nights. When not in use, there is a plexi that you put behind the inner set of doors to help block any draft.
  4. GasMan

    GasMan New Member

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    Call your Gas supplier(Gas Company) and have them come out to find the source of the leak-it is not normal to smell gas regardless if the unit is on or off. They should do this for you at no charge-don't take any chances!
  5. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    Thanks. All. I called the installer and he said that since it is open on both sides, the pressure in the house will suck in any residual gas since that is the path of least resistance vs going up the flu. He wants us to try using it with both doors closed and assured us the glass doors will be fine...not sure I buy that. I will call the gas company this week. We haven't used it since.
  6. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    DON"T burn it with both doors closed. For one thing, you probably don't have PyroCeram in the doors,
    & if you do, the gas valve can't take the heat of being in an
    enclosed fireplace. There are rubber gaskets & in the valve
    that will be deformed (or worse) by the heat & you won't
    like the replacement costs...
  7. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    Oh lord...glad I didn't yet...the gas co will get a call tomorrow to, once and for all, see where the smell is coming from and if we can stop it...otherwise the $500 investment into the log set will have been a waste.
  8. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    More about the doors, not only should you NOT burn with both doors shut, you should also not burn it with only one door shut. BOTH sets of doors should be fully open when it is used.
  9. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    Yep, the installer did say both or neither, not one or the other. I am very curious as what the gas co. has to say.
  10. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Its only "both or neither" when burning wood. Its both open only, when using a gas log.

    If you smell gas when its in use then then Gas co. will find gas with their meter and then they will lock the thing out and tell you not to use it. Most gas co. don't do much fireplace repair, they just disable it and say to call a repair place.

    The comment about the house pressure sucking in any residual gas is a little scary, because that would mean exhaust (and CO) is coming in your house also. If the fireplace "spills" with both doors open, a gas log should never have been installed in it in the first place. My guess that with a wood unit half inside and half out it never did draft properly.

    As I said before, did they perform a spill test after installing it to make sure it was drafting properly and not spilling exhaust into the house? The mfg of gas logs we use recommends you close all doors and windows in the house and run the log set for 3 minutes, then use a smoke source and hold it about 1" down from the hood. The smoke should get pulled into the fireplace and up the flue, if it is hesitant or spills back into the house then that is a huge problem.
  11. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    I don't know if they performed a spill test. I wasn't here and since we are new to gas, in general, I'm sure my husband didn't ask.

    At least if the gas company says there is an issue, I have some footing to go back to the installer with. My nose has always been super sensitive. Hubby says he doesn't smell it. I will make sure they do that test when they are here to fix it, whether it's the same installer or another. I would think if they want to please a customer that they would be willing to come out and fix whatever the gas co finds.

    I really do appreciate all your info.
  12. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    Well the gas company won't come out. They said unless I smell gas now (which I don't, it's only when I use it) they won't come out. So I called back the installer and he recommended a licensed plumber since if it is leaking, that is who would do the repair. But I explained it doesn't smell unless it is used...then he said we should get someone to look at the chimney and why it isn't drafting...OY!!! So now I am calling the chimney guy...
  13. bobed2121

    bobed2121 New Member

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    We just moved into a place that has a double sided gas fireplace in the master bedroom. There is glass on three sides with two of them being doors that open. There is a switch on the wall that turns on the fireplace but no thermostat to be found. We have had it on during the evenings with the doors closed and it cuts off after a while, (haven't timed it yet to see just how long it burns, but roughly 30 minutes) Then throughout the night it comes back on and burns awhile then goes out. So you are saying that the doors MUST be open before burning it?
  14. DAKSY

    DAKSY Patriot Guard Rider Staff Member

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    If you can reach in & touch the logs AFTER you open the doors, i.e. there is NOT a fixed glass panel BEHIND the doors,
    you DO NOT want to burn that thing in your bedroom.
    I could be wrong, but I believe the code book says you have to have something like 50 cubic feet of room
    PER 1,000 BTUs in order to have a VENTED gas log approved for a bedroom...
    Most gas logs are BTU hogs & that dictates that your bedroom be HUGE...
    If you've got, say a 60K BTU gas log, you've got to have a 3K cu ft Bedroom.
    Divide 3K x 8 ft ceiling height & you get 375 sq ft...That's a BIG bedroom, least round these parts...
    If you have fixed glass panels behind your doors, sounds like you've got a thermopile goin south
  15. bobed2121

    bobed2121 New Member

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    Yes once the doors are opened I can reach in and through the doors on the other side. The only glass is on the bi-fold doors and one end. There is wire screenings that can open and close as well much like my fathers old wood burning fireplace.


    I'll measure tonight but it is pretty large indeed and is open to the master bath area


    No fixed panels just glass bi-fold doors.
  16. bobed2121

    bobed2121 New Member

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  17. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Winebrats, sound like you are getting the run around, sorry to hear that. Why don't you perform the spill test yourself? If it fails you may have some recourse with the place that sold / installed the log set. Check the install manual for the log set and see what they recommend for a spill test in their instructions. I have a feeling all a chimney guy is going to say is that yeah it doesn't draft good, and there's nothing he can do about it.

    bobed2121, There is no thermostat because it is probably a gas log set, which is not a heating appliance. Also as DAKSY said there are air volume requirements for wood fireplaces and gas logs in bed rooms. If it is a gas log you probably do need to run it with both doors open. When you run it with doors shut you are probably overheating the components which is why it turns off. I would especially NOT be running that thing while I sleep. I urge you to at a minimum get a GOOD Carbon Monoxide detector for your bedroom.
  18. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    I will do the spill test. We didn't get any paper work, aside from the recipt, as far as the logs.

    "close all doors and windows in the house and run the log set for 3 minutes, then use a smoke source and hold it about 1” down from the hood. The smoke should get pulled into the fireplace and up the flue, if it is hesitant or spills back into the house then that is a huge problem."
    What is "the hood"? Is that the glass door entrance? The flu?

    I am hoping there is something that can be done to improve the draft up the chimney if that is the problem...lengthen the chimney? A fan...something?
  19. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Hood / top of door opening, whatever...

    Basically you put the smoke in positions where the fireplace meets the room, if drafting properly it should draw it into the firebox and up the flue.

    Also, did you even get the make / model of the log set they installed? Does it have a rating plate attached to it? If not, then where is the testing / listing information? All decorative gas appliances need to be tested against certain ANSI standards by an approved testing agency. That information needs to be attached to the appliance at all times. I would request an installation manual, or make/model so you can find one online.
  20. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    I will request one as Hubby said we didn't get anything except the receipt, but on the receipt it says "part #RG4218 18" See thru Golden Oaks Logs"

    did a little searching - looks like it is probably RH Peterson, Real Fyre brand, based on the part number
  21. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    OK, so I did the spill test. Not good...the smoke from the extinguished matches came billowing into the house. All the windows and doors were closed, but after I did it I realized the forced air heat was on. Should I have turned that off?
  22. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    I gotta do it again. I didn't close the interior doors...only the exterior doors and windows. I found this for more detail about it:
    How to Check for Dangerous Chimney & Flue Backdrafting by Performing a "Worst Case" Test

    In homes with the potential for back- drafting, a simple test can be conducted to determine the likelihood of problems:

    Close all interior doors except those leading to the furnace room and rooms where exhaust fans are located.

    Switch on all exhaust fans, dryers, and other exhaust equipment, including the air handler if the home has forced-air heating.

    Turn up the thermostat to turn on the boiler or furnace, and run hot water to turn on the water heater burner.

    Hold a smoke indicator, such as an incense stick, about 3 inches from the draft hood of a gas furnace or water hater or near the barometric damper of an oil furnace. Test a fireplace near the top center of the firebox opening, and a woodstove near the doors or where the stovepipe connects to the stove.

    Perform the test with the air handler both on and off, since unbalanced airflows can be a significant factor. If smoke spills into the room for more than 30 seconds at any combustion appliance, the home has a potential backdrafting problem that requires attention.

    A more scientific procedure for determining backdrafting potential, using a pressure gauge, can be found in Step 7 of the “Recommended Procedures for Safety Inspection” in Appendix H of the National Fuel Gas Code.

    The chimney guy is coming on the 28th and I am hoping he has some ways we can improve the draft. I was reading that they said it could be from a poor insulated chimney, too, so if we have to run a stainless steel one inside that is better insulated, so be it. I installed a SS chimney in our old house, but not inside an existing chimney...
  23. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    Well just closing the exterior doors / windows was prob best case scenario, so doing all the things suggested in the info you found should only make it worse. Prob does not help that half the fireplace is outside and the air can just blow from outside right through into the house.

    Also, dropping a liner down the flue is going to reduce its size, this will make the situation even worse.

    It looks like you have a prefabricated metal fireplace anyway, so you cannot reduce the flue size on that, it is specced out for a certain chimney and that's it. Going along with this, I really think the "chimney" guy is going to be a huge waste of time. About all he can do if its a prefab is order another section of chimney pipe and add it to the top making it taller.

    Did you have a home inspection done on the house / fireplace before purchase? This fireplace is a serious issue and I doubt would ever function properly. Could have some recourse with disclosure at the home sale or with the inspection company. Unfortunately your best option might be to remove the entire thing and put in either a single sided fireplace, gas or wood, or a sealed indoor / outdoor gas fireplace. This is the only sealed indoor / outdoor gas fireplace I know of: http://www.heatnglo.com/products/fireplaces/gasFireplaceDetail.asp?f=05950
  24. Winebrats

    Winebrats New Member

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    I think you are looking at the other persons fireplace picture. Ours is not prefab. Ours is pictured in the first post. It is the cement block. On the original plans it was supposed to be a one sided, but the owner wanted a 2 sided. Yes the house was inspected and the fireplace was looked at and we even had them clean the chimney before closing. The previous owner used it for wood with a gas starter.

    We'll find a solution. I am not opposed to closing up the outer wall with masonry, but the installer better take back the see through gas log set he sold us. I would much rather find a solution for the lack of draft than close it as we like the effect of the see through.
  25. jtp10181

    jtp10181 Minister of Fire

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    If it worked for burning wood without filling the house with smoke, it should be able to draft properly with a gas log.

    I was looking at the first pic, it really looks like a prefab, but that metal frame I see must just be the frame for the doors.
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