What Size Gas Logs Should I Purchase?

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

When it comes to fitting gas logs in your existing masonry fireplace or a prefabricated firebox, one of the most important aspects is air space. Different gas log sets have a minimum clearance from the side walls of your firebox, and if your gas log sets have a safety pilot (most modern sets do) this clearance is even greater. Safety pilots require increased air space between the logs and the fireplace because more is needed to prevent the valve from melting and overheating.

I recommend purchasing gas logs with a safety pilot because although you cannot install as big of a unit into your fireplace, you have

Gas Log Set
These gas logs fit nicely in this masonry firebox.

the benefit of the  added safety feature. When installing gas logs without a safety pilot you have more freedom. Basically, you can install the largest gas log set that comfortably fits in your fireplace, of course paying attention to the manufacturer’s clearance specifications. You will be able to install a much larger unit which will look better aesthetically and put off more heat than a smaller unit.

A mistake that some people make when measuring for gas logs is taking measurements other than the usable area. For example, prefabricated fireplace units may have mesh curtains which take up a few inches. Measuring only the usable space will provide you with the best information for purchasing a gas log set. Similarly, remember that almost all fireboxes are wider in the front than they are in the back. You must take the measurements of the back wall of the firebox and the front opening into the room, as they will differ greatly from one another.

Making sure your gas log set is going to fit is not a particularly complicated task as long as you know what you are looking for when you measure. If  you have doubts you may want to consult a professional to come out and take their own measurements and give their own recommendations based on your particular firebox.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
How to Install a Chimney Cap

How to Install a Chimney Cap

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Stainless steel chimney caps are great for keeping out unwanted precipitation, animals, and debris.  This video covers the installation of both single-flue and multi-flue caps.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Can I Install Gas Logs in Any Fireplace?

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Recently at a customer’s home my service technician encountered a question that we get quite frequently: “Does it matter what type of fireplace I install my vented gas logs in?” Sometimes when I have to explain to a customer that they can not burn wood in their fireplace until it is relined due to vertical cracks in the flue tiles, missing mortar joints, etc., they sometimes inquire as to whether or not they can install a gas log set instead. What type of fireplaces can vented gas logs be installed in?

Masonry Fireplace (Clay flue liners)

You may install a vented gas log set in a masonry fireplace as long as it is not damaged. A masonry fireplace typically consists of a brick exterior with a cement crown and chimney cap on the outside with clay flue tiles lining the inside. It has a damper down near the smoke chamber which can be opened and closed with chain pulleys (typically) and is generally designed to burn wood. Generally a vented gas log set can be installed in a masonry chimney so long as the gas logs will fit in the existing firebox. Have your chimney swept prior to installing gas logs if you previously used the chimney for burning wood.

Prefabs (Woodburning)

Prefab Unit
This prefabricated unit looks just like a regular masonry chimney.

Prefabricated fireplaces have gained and lost popularity over time, but is basically a factory manufactured fireplace. It consists of a  large metal box that is the firebox with a round metal chimney pipe attached to it for venting the byproducts of combustion. The firebox is lined with refractory plates. The pipe vents up out of the home and is usually surrounded by siding to aesthetic purposes. Your chimney’s flue liner should be at least 8″ in diameter if you wish to use it for burning wood, and the damper must be open when using your gas logs. Some manufacturers have specific instructions regarding gas logs in their products, so contact your manufacturer before making a gas log set purchase.

Although there are other types of fireplace approved for venting gas logs, these are by and far the most frequent types of chimneys we get questions about regarding the installation of gas logs. If you have specific questions regarding your chimney system, feel free to give me the details in the comments section or on the Askthechimneysweep forum. Always follow local building codes and remember that some manufacturers have specifications regarding gas log installation that must be followed.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Reasons Chimney Draft Problems Occur

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Part of the reason why a chimney professional may not properly fix your chimney’s drafting problem with the first repair is because there are so many potential causes of poor chimney draft or chimney draft problems. I always recommend the least expensive repair first when it comes to diagnosing a chimney draft problem; avoid the chimney contractor who recommends a $3,000 dollar repair or chimney rebuild as the first option for correcting a chimney draft issue.

Air Tight Home

One of the most common issues that I have seen which results in a drafting issue is an air tight home. Whether you have a new home constructed with energy efficient doors and windows or an old home which has recently been made more air tight, a major cause of chimney draft problems (including smoking fireplaces) is that there is not enough fresh air being allowed to enter the home to provide sufficient supply for combustion. If there is not enough air in the home, the fire will draw air from down the chimney’s flue, causing smoke to flow into the room.

Unseasoned Firewood

Burning unseasoned firewood can create excessive smoke which can create the illusion of a chimney draft issue and also cause

Chimney Violation
This chimney is too short and can potentially cause drafting issues and is a fire hazard.

creosote buildup. Make sure you are burning seasoned hardwood in your fireplace. Visit my articles on what wood to burn for information and specifications on what hard wood is.

Chimney is Too Short

If a chimney’s flue is too short, it may not be conducive to a strong, properly drafting chimney. The chimney must project at least 3′ above any point on the roof or building which it is within 10′ of. Chimneys may need to be taller to overcome a powerful downdraft or combat a particularly tall nearby building. There are flue extending chimney caps available and courses of brick can be added to the top of a chimney to make it taller as well.

Flue System is Too Small for the Firebox

Similarly, if the chimney flue’s diameter is not in proportion to the size of the firebox, there will be problems as well. Decreasing the size of the firebox by installing a SmokeGuard can help to solve this problem. A SmokeGuard is easily installed to the top of the front of the fireplace to decrease its overall dimensions. By decreasing the

Stained Fireplace
This fireplace was stained by smoke pouring out over the front of the hearth as a result of poor draft.

size of the firebox, smoke may more easily vent through the chimney, preventing poor draft from occurring.

Flue Too Cold

If the flue is very cold to start out with, the products of combustion may not be inclined to vent up, causing a smoking problem at the beginning of each fire. Lighting newspaper on fire and holding it up in the flue system for a few seconds warms up the flue and creates a strong draft from the very beginning. If you are experiencing a draft problem which involves smoke pouring into the living room you may want to consider warming the flue up first. If you have a buildup of creosote sticking the newspaper up into the flue to warm it could potentially cause a chimney fire.


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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Insurance Claims Regarding Your Chimney

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Lightning Strikes
This is damage from a lightning strike, a sudden occurrence, which most insurance policies cover.

When a chimney fire occurs or lightning strikes your chimney, damage is incurred.  Most folks’ insurance policies cover such occurrences, and a chimney professional must try to help homeowners to make the insurance process go as smoothly as possible. My number one recommendation when it comes to insurance claims, no matter what kind of insurance, is to document everything at the very beginning of the process. You need to be sure to document the date it occurred, the name of the professional(s) who come out to evaluate the situation, and the date(s) the professional evaluated the situation. Your professional should also be doing some documentation as well.

The service technician must document the damage, the date it was discovered, and how they discovered it. Most chimney fires are discovered by chimney sweeps who come out and observe signs that a chimney fire has occurred when running a video inspection of the flue system. This is a dangerous situation which cannot be ignored; you cannot continue to burn wood regularly in your fireplace without repair. You may notice exterior damage on the chimney caused by a lightning strike, in which case the technician should document that he came out to observe possible lightning strike damage at the request of the owner of the home.

Most insurance policies do not cover normal wear and tear of the chimney, for example, deterioration over many years. Similarly,

Vertical Crack
Vertical cracks in flue tiles often indicate a chimney fire has occurred.

they do not cover problems such as a clogged flue or spalling brick, which is almost always the result of poor maintenance of the chimney. Instead, documentation for insurance claims are used to file a “sudden occurrence.” It has been my experience that most insurance companies are willing to work with you so long as you provide the documentation and information that they require.

Fire is only supposed to be contained within the firebox of your chimney. When the fire escapes this area, it often causes vertical cracks in the flue tiles of a chimney, can warp a stainless steel liner, and cause other damage to the chimney and home in general. Documenting your claim on a large, roaring chimney fire is easy, seeing that the fire department must be called. What about slow burning chimney fires, which most home owners are not even aware occurred until a chimney sweep comes out and tells them.

Chimney professionals are almost always willing to come out, meet with an insurance agent or a homeowner, and do whatever work is necessary in cases regarding sudden occurrence insurance claims. My policy is to never get ahead of the insurance agency and follow their lead when it comes to the claim, providing what documentation and service they require. Remember, it is not the chimney professional’s job to defend the home owner’s claim, but review observable facts and provide documentation that a person other than a trained professional could not do. Call out one or more professionals if you suspect a sudden occurrence has taken place; they can almost always make the insurance claim process less of a hassle.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Brick Replacement

How to Replace Bricks in a Chimney

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Replacing damaged bricks is easy enough for some avid do-it-yourself homeowners.  Here are some great tips for making sure your replacement looks clean and blends nicely!

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Creosote and Chimney Fires

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Damaged Flue System
These vertical cracks in the flue system are tell tale signs of a chimney fire having occurred.

After a certain temperature is reached inside a flue system, the gases that are the byproducts of combustion can actually ignite and cause a fire in the chimney. There are certain factors that can make a chimney fire more violent or more likely to occur, including creosote buildup or burning unseasoned or wet wood. Creosote that builds up in the flue system is fuel for a chimney fire which may occur due to a temperature increase. Burning unseasoned wood or even wet wood increases the likelihood of creosote build up because this wet wood produces more water vapor as a byproduct which makes for cooler gas that is more prone to condense on the walls of the flue.

One of the scariest parts of a chimney fire is that the flames do not need to touch other parts of the home in order for the fire to spread from the chimney’s flue to the roof. The heat inside the flue can get so intense that the structures on the outside of the chimney flue reach a certain temperature and ignite. As long as there is a steady air supply, there is the possibility of the fire spreading.

Creosote comes in many shapes and forms, but all of it is dangerous when it comes to a chimney. Whether the creosote is glazed on or loose and sooty, any deposits of creosote are merely fuel for a chimney fire which can quickly get out of control and damage more parts to the home than the chimney alone. While some chimney fires sound like a freight train or produce a loud, rumbling noise,

ACS Spray
Using ACS, a creosote removal product on a regular basis is another way to prevent creosote buildup.

some burn very slowly in the flue system and may be undetected by the homeowner. Although these fires are less violent initially they are no less dangerous than a loud, screaming chimney fire. Remember, it is very easy for the fire to move from being contained in the flue system to catching the roof, surrounding drywall, etc. on fire, so at the first sign of a chimney fire evacuate the family and call the fire department.

The best way to prevent a chimney fire from occurring in the first place is to have it cleaned regularly. If the fireplace is cleaned after every cord of wood, or at least every year for very heavy burners, then there will only be so much creosote built up in the flue to fuel a fire. When a fire runs out of fuel it starts to burn more slowly, consuming less oxygen and basically dying down. Have a chimney professional evaluate your flue system using video equipment to check for the telltale signs of a chimney fire, which includes heavy creosote glazing and vertical cracks in the flue tiles, or in cases of stainless steel liners, the warping of the liner and buckling at the seams.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

What is Done When Gas Logs are Serviced?

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Gas Log Cleaner
After servicing the gas logs, the serviceman will turn the logs on and spray them with this product.

If you have vented gas logs in your home, hopefully you know that you need to have them serviced regularly to ensure maximum efficiency and to prevent any problems from occurring. You may know that gas logs, when working efficiently, are supposed to burn clean, but what then is done to the logs when they are serviced?

The firebox must be brushed down and any loose creosote removed. There will be loose creosote if the firebox was previously used for burning wood. Gently removing debris from the firebox is a necessary step. Each log is carefully removed, cleaned, and placed safely on a tarp outside of the firebox.

There are many technical aspects of gas log service that must be covered by your certified gas appliance technician. The gas piping must be inspected for any damage or leakage using a gas detector. The damper valve is also checked to make sure that it is functioning properly and the damper cannot close on accident while the logs are in operation. The burner pan, where the flames are actually produced, holds sand, which is spread evenly so that the most beautiful flame possible can be created. Sand that clumps in one area makes for a flame that does not spread across the entire gas log set. Remember that although yellow flames are beautiful they are the result of incomplete combustion.

After taking care of technical aspects and ensuring that no leakage is occurring in the gas line, the logs are reassembled and put into operation so that they can be sprayed with a gas log soot remover to remove any lingering soot or debris. Finally, the technician will

Gas Logs
Gas logs can be beautiful and look as natural and real as a wood fire.

make any last minute adjustments to flame height and the service is complete.

It is important to remember that a gas log set must be vented through an operable chimney. Installing gas logs does not mean that a flue system with damages can be used for venting. Let me repeat, you must have an operable flue system through which to vent a gas appliance, it cannot be damaged. This being said, whatever is venting your gas logs must also be capped with a stainless steel chimney cap to prevent debris and critters from getting in because blockage in the chimney can cause the gases to not be able to exit the home, creating a dangerous or even potentially deadly situation.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb
Wood Stove Installation

Wood Stove Installation

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Wood burning is a fun and carbon-neutral way to heat your home.  Watch as we instal a Regency i2400 Wood Stove Insert.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Slip Casting as Chimney Flue Repair

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb

Chimneys which may look and seem perfectly sound on the outside can exhibit extensive damage on the inside. A chimney must be structurally sound both inside and out in order to meet code standards for operation. Chimneys are made of different kinds of materials, whether brick, stone, or other construction material, and are used to vent wood burning fireplaces and inserts, gas appliances, or even furnaces. Chimney flues generally are comprised of clay flue tiles, stacked one on top of the other, which are able to stand high temperature fluctuations and safely vent the corrosive byproducts of combustion.

Flue Problem
This picture shows a missing mortar joint before HeatShield repairs are conducted.

Cracks in the flue tiles of a chimney liner can be caused by many occurrences. Chimney fires and the shifting and settling of the house into its foundation are two main causes. Only call out chimney professionals who run a video inspection of your flue system after sweeping. Use of a closed circuit camera system is often the only way to see damage in the flue system. If cracks exist in the flue tiles then the chimney must not be used. A chimney liner with cracks in it should be resurfaced, or in cases of very bad damage, a stainless steel chimney liner pipe should be installed.

Repaired flue System
This is the mortar joint after it has been repaired using HeatShield.
Heat Shield
This diagram shows how the HeatShield application process works.

Slip casting is one way professionals describe the resurfacing of a chimney liner system. If a chimney liner has cracked over time, applying a new surface onto the old flue tiles after they have been cleaned will extend the life of your existing liner. The product is applied in the flue system and a large, foam head is dragged up from the bottom of the chimney to the top, smoothing it over any cracks or missing mortar joints and once again making the flue system safe to contain products of combustion after the application of a “tie coat” or a primer. The product I recommend using is HeatShield, which is a cerfractory material: a mixture of ceramic and high-temperature refractory cement, which combines strength with heat resistance.

HeatShield carries a 20 year warranty when installed by a professional and has been UL tested to withstand temperature up to 2900 degrees Fahrenheit. This material is pushed into open voids and smoothed over completely so that no soot will be prone to get caught on ridge in the system. This resurfacing of the flue is a cheaper alternative to a stainless steel liner and should be discussed with a professional as not all cases should be repaired using HeatShield technology.

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Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb

Clay Lamb is a Cincinnati Chimney Sweep contractor and the executive producer of the YouTube channel, podcast, and blog Ask the Chimney Sweep. He is also an award-winning educator and public speaker in the chimney and fireplace industry.

AsktheChimneySweep.com….Educational Videos
FireplaceandChimneySupply.com….Chimney products
AmChimney.com….American Chimney Cincinnati, OH
Clay Lamb