A Sooty Situation: Cleaning Your Propane Fireplace

If you install a propane fireplace, you need to keep the unit as clean as possible. Although propane fireplaces don't generate the same ash that a wood-burning fireplace can, any unburned propane molecules can settle on the surfaces in the fireplace, creating a soot residue that's black and unsightly. In most cases, you wouldn't see or notice the occasional unburned molecule, but when there are many that accumulate over time, they discolor the surface and leave residue. Here's a look at what you need to know about soot deposits in your propane fireplace.

Common Causes of Soot Residue

  1. Dirt – Propane creates some water vapor when it's burning, and that water vapor can pick up any dirt particles from the burner or the pilot and distribute them inside the fireplace. That dirt settles on the surfaces and turns into black soot residue.  
  2. Improper Parts – If a valve or component in the fireplace is a poor fit or the wrong part, it can increase the number of unburned propane particles in the air. These particles will settle much like the dust molecules, creating black soot buildup on the fireplace. This can also happen if the regulator isn't configured correctly.  
  3. Low Oxygen – If the oxygen levels in the room are low, it can inhibit propane's ability to burn. This can often lead to unburned propane molecules left inside the fireplace.

Dealing With Soot

The best thing you can do is clean your propane fireplace regularly. This keeps the soot at bay and ensures that the propane flows as it is intended.

  • Preparing the Fireplace – Turn the propane off before you start working. This protects you from accidentally releasing propane into the air. Then, sweep any debris out of the fireplace before you start cleaning. Sweep it into a tray using a small hand broom, then throw the dust and debris in the garbage.
  • Cleaning the Fireplace – Apply an ammonia-free cleaning solution to a lint-free rag. Saturate the rag completely, then wipe the fireplace glass. Focus on any heavy deposits and clear them away. Then, use the same rag to clean the burner ports. Wipe them individually, making sure to get all of the soot away from them. If the rag gets dirty, grab a clean one. That way, you don't spread soot anywhere else.

The more attentive you are to caring for your propane fireplace, the cleaner and safer it will burn. If you're not comfortable doing the work yourself, you can have a propane technician do it for you. You should also have the propane technician inspect it once a year for any signs of wear or leaks. Companies like Graves (John) Propane of Arizona Inc can help answer other questions you might have about propane and your fireplace.