The typical response to the idea of burning anything other than wood in a fireplace is disgust at the notion of a "fake" fire. But before you skip past this article, take a minute to consider the virtues that gas fireplace log sets offer:
1--Modern gas fireplace log sets consist of ceramic logs that rest atop a steel grate just as wood logs do. Below the grate the gas is distributed through a layer of sand with special "glowing embers" which, when operated behind a fire-screen, provide the warmth of fire while being almost indistinguishable from burning wood.
2--Gas logs are extremely easy to operate. Simply hold a fireplace match below the logs and turn on the gas for an instant fire. No more logs to carry, no ashes to clean, no "restocking" the fire as it burns down.
3--Burning natural gas instead of wood is less taxing on the environment. Wood, of course, emits particulate matter into the air, which adds to our pollution problems. Many communities across the country already restrict the burning of wood fires on certain days to help reduce emissions, and some localities are mandating gas-burning fireplaces only in new construction.
4--Burning gas is safer than burning wood. The risk of sparks flying from the chimney is eliminated, as is the buildup of flammable creosote on the inside of the flue. Further, you eliminate the chance of spreading termites inside or around your home from the firewood.
5--Gas logs are cheaper to use than wood. In most communities, the savings realized by burning gas instead of wood will pay for the initial investment in the gas log set in the first year or two and keep saving you money over time. Also, no longer will you need to spend money for chimney cleaning every three or four years. The sets can be purchased in various sizes for generally under $200, sometimes much less if on sale.
Gas log sets are fairly easy to install if you have an existing gas fireplace log lighter. The kit comes with complete installation instructions that most novices can easily follow.
The kits consist of a metal tray with a burner pipe in the center, an aluminum gas supply tube and fittings to connect to the incoming gas line, a metal log grate, several ceramic logs and a bag of sand and artificial embers.
Installation requires removal of the existing log lighter pipe and fittings, so that only the threaded gas supply nipple remains in the fireplace.
The metal tray is then positioned toward the center of the fireplace, with the supply tube connected between it and the gas nipple. The sand and "embers" are poured over the burner pipe in the metal tray, and finally, the grate and ceramic logs are placed over the tray to distribute the flames as aesthetically as possible.
For the completely unhandy, most plumbers can do this job easily in an hour.