Gas fireplace safety: Is my fireplace safe to use this fall and winter?

Nothing takes the edge off a cool Atlanta evening like sitting in front of a gas fireplace. But if you...

Nothing takes the edge off a cool Atlanta evening like sitting in front of a gas fireplace. But if you haven't used the fireplace since last winter, is it really safe to use? Here are four checkpoints to go through before settling in for a cozy evening in front of the fire.

1. Clean the fireplace
Remove any garbage tossed into the fireplace while it wasn't used. Scrap paper or junk mail with cellophane panels can melt and make a mess in a gas-powered fireplace. Simply dust the faux logs with a water-moistened rag and the interior is set for the season. If you're tired of the current display, choose a new fireplace insert.

2. Remove obstructions
During the warm summer months in the South, you probably haven't used the fireplace. If furniture has been rearranged, and is currently blocking the opening of the fireplace, move it. You don't want any vents or blowers on the front of the unit to be blocked, according to the Hearth, Barbecue & Patio Association.

3. Clean the glass
If your gas fireplace has a glass front enclosure, wipe down both sides. Lingering dust will burn the first time you fire up the gas, causing an unpleasant, stale odor. This is also a good time to remove anything from the glass, including stick-on holiday decorations leftover from summer or early fall.

4. Clean the chimney and fans
Over the summer, bird nests, leaves and twigs can obstruct the opening of the chimney on your roof. This inhibits proper ventilation. Call a certified HVAC specialist in the Atlanta-area to give your chimney a thorough cleaning and inspection before settling in for the season.

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