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Black soot from gas logs

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by lynda, Dec 3, 2005.

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  1. lynda

    lynda New Member

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    My daughter recently purchased a home that has a Pro-Com ventless propane gas log fireplace. She's having a problem with black soot on the surfaces throughout her house. The source of the soot seems to be the fireplace. Is this typical? Is there a solution to the problem? The flame in the fireplace is yellow. I've been told the flame should be blue.

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  2. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I know if I were you I would be worring a little more about air quality than soot.
    Sounds to me It is not burning correctly there should be no soot. I would stop using it till that situation is resolved.
    Never a fan Of ventless a heaters.. Never liked the idea of sharing my breathing air with stove exhaust
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Well, the cost of cleaning the soot will greatly outweigh any savings on heat, that's for certain.

    Procom is a brand that would only be sold by outfits like Harbour Freight and other mail order and possibly box stores. As such, it might be hard to get service - although you should contact them and try!

    Vent-free products , after enjoying a big splash in the 90's, have largely been forgotten by the biggies in our industry. A few manufacturers were driven under by the liabilities and ups and downs of these products.

    Here is your first steps.

    1. Make certain you have a manual that details log placement - check carefully.
    2. Remove all logs and clean the burner with soft brush, air, etc. Make certain all holes in burner are clear, replace logs.

    There is no adjustment on vent-free, in other words idf cleaning and repositioning does not work, there is little you can do except replace the burner and/or logs.

    The soot may have built up slowly over time, so it may be difficult to figure out if you fixed it!

    Good Luck...
  4. lynda

    lynda New Member

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    Craig-
    Thank you. You've given me a definitive place to start.
    Lynda
  5. skypager

    skypager New Member

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    Might not be soot. Vent free products add alot of moisture to the home.

    A few years back we had a customer who was using their vent free stove as a main source of heat even though we reccommended him not to. His complaint was that soot was collecting in his living area. We determined that the stove was operating correctly and that moisture was collecting dust or candle smoke. We then offered a full refund of the stove if he were to purchase a direct vent model which he could use as a main source of heat. He insisted that he should be able to run the vent free for as long as he wants without a problem, then sued us. We had an independent lab run tests on the so called soot and they determined it was peanut oil residue from cooking that was mixing with the moisture and sticking to his walls.

    This is one of the reasons that many stove shops won't sell vent free. We feel that there is a place for vent free products if used properly. We sell them as space heaters to "take the chill of the air". We make sure that the customer is aware of the moisture output and possible "soot like residue" if used for more than a few hours at a time, the oxygen depletion and the fact that it is not pulling oxygen from other areas as a vented set would do, and we will not sell a thermostat with a vent free product.

    If your daughter would like to use a gas fireplace to heat a room or more for a long period of time, then I would reccommend a direct vent insert.

    Regardless, have a profesional inspect it. If he/she determines it is in good condition a thorough cleaning would do a lot of good. If it is not working properly or the logs are not placed correctly you will be pumping carbon monoxide into the home. A CO2 detector would also be a good thing to have with or without a vent free product.
  6. lynda

    lynda New Member

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    Thanks, Josh. I've spent a lot of time during the last 2 days looking into this. It seems she needs to change her heat source. What, exactly, is a direct vent insert? Does it require a chimney?
    Lynda
  7. skypager

    skypager New Member

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    A direct vent insert is a full metal box w/ burner and logs which is designed to fit into a functional wood burning fireplace. Direct vent, in this case, refers to 1 aluminum liner running up the chimney for air intake and another for exhaust.

    I wasn't familiar with pro-com, but after googling it I see that it is most likely a manufactured or zero clearance fireplace and the direct vent insert wouldn't apply for this situation.

    However, a direct vent zero clearance fireplace or direct vent stove would probably work. Both of these are basically designed to be put were there is no fireplace. It could be as simple as removing the existing fireplace and installing a new cabinet / fireplace system or stove with a vent directly out the wall and may not require a full chimney up the side of the home.

    I don't want to get to technical and confuse the situation with info that does not apply, as I do not know the exact details of whats there and the venting options you may have. If a replacement is a consideration I would recommend taking a picture of the fireplace and visiting your local fireplace shop. They would be able to ask a few questions, determine what options there are, and show you models and pictures which would help you understand what would need to be done.
  8. lynda

    lynda New Member

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    The raised hearth and the surrounding mantle are on an inside wall. No vent or chimney. I think the previous owner was looking for a quick, inexpensive fix rather than replacing the furnace. I've found a couple web sites that advertise ProCom...Northern Tool was one of them.
    There seem to be a number of possible causes of her problem. And, as Elkimmeg pointed out, the air quality problem looms large.
    Thanks for the input.
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