Outdoor Gas Fireplace log starter

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New Member
Nov 14, 2022
Hey Folks. I realize there are a number of code infractions here - not my work but that of the previous owner of a house I've moved into....you should see the rest of the house...

Anyway, It's a cinderblock construction with a manual lighted loglighter that has a key on the outside of the fireplace. it looks like they started out wanting a wood burning fire, then realized what a mess it made of the ceiling as they vented. So they then transitioned to a log set, but just laid it over the existing log starter.

As you can imagine, it puts out almost no heat, and is mostly for looks. Where we are it can get chilly, with especially high winds in winter, so I'd like to get something warmer going . My ideas to improve that are as follows, and I'd be grateful for any suggestions. Pile on.

What seems like some kind of tile on the flue, I'll leave on as a cap to reduce more heat loss and to protect the ceiling. I know Carbon Monoxide is an issue, but the deck is large with good airflow, so I'm not worried. Strange for outside I know, but I could add a carbon monoxide detector.

I had hoped I could simply switch out the loglighter for a real gas burner and leave the existing logset and stand as-is.

I had also thought about adding one of those cast iron firebacks to push some more heat forward, as well as some lavarocks over the base of the fireplace.

Two questions I had....

How much is it hurting me that the fireplace is so large and not trapezoidal?
How much do the fake logs actually do in terms of heat output and is it more about the burner itself - I might upgrade to a bigger logset to make use of the space in that case.

OK - Go easy on me and thanks in advance for the advice!!

Outdoor Gas Fireplace log starter Outdoor Gas Fireplace log starter
You will waste your money and fuel trying to get heat out of ANY open fireplace. regardless of the what you burn. You may get some warmth if the fire & surrounding materials get hot enough. Unless you put an enclosed firebox in there, it’s kinda pointless…
Others may chime in now…
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True words above. I have an outdoor fireplace - mainly for looks and a tiny bit of heat. But the main heat comes from getting the ceramic log stack up to temperature so that you get some radiant heat out of the deal. This sort of relies on carefully stacking the logs so they get hit by the flame - and I placed a lot of ember material to catch and radiate heat, too. I also worked to adjust the gas so I get a nice hot blue flame (to heat the logs) with a bit of yellow at the tip (for looks.) If you see an open flame, then that is mostly 'lost' energy as far as radiant heating goes. When it is dark and I turn off the gas, the logs are still glowing red-orange and a considerable amount of heat coming off. I don't believe your 'log lighters' have a provision for air mixing, so they may burn with a dull yellow flame? (looks good, but not a lot of heat)

But overall, if you want any heat out of that, it is going to have to be radiant. There are many ways to go about that - a proper gas burner and stacking ceramic logs like mentioned above. Depending on the look you're after, you might try an old-timey ceramic fireplace / heater, or some of the more modern ones.

PS - I'm not even going to start addressing code or safety issues - especially if that is a chimney venting directly at a ceiling.


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Right - thanks for that. I should probably just switch out the whole assembly for a larger one with a real burner that will actually get the log set warmed.