What are the dangers of running a gas fireplace?

Updated April 17, 2017

Gas fireplaces are becoming more common in new homes. This feature has its own factory-built firebox that is inserted where access to liquid propane or natural gas is available. It comes with a glass window for view and can radiate enough heat to warm the room with the flip of a switch on the wall. A benefit of gas fireplaces versus electrical is that, if the electricity is out, the fireplace can still ignite by the switch. However, fire in any case is dangerous and more so when combined with gas.

Burn Factors

The fact that a gas fireplace is not a real wood burning fireplace may cause doubt that something can burn or ignite near the glass doors. However, this is a fallacy since the glass doors can reach 204 degrees C in merely six minutes and take nearly 45 minutes to cool after extinguished. Children have been burnt by touching the glass doors prematurely. Place a fireplace protection gate to avoid serious injuries.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Wherever gas is involved, carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning is a factor to safeguard against. If the gas fireplace is not working correctly or malfunctions, it could create an invisible and odourless gas. To protect against possible CO toxins, know the symptoms, such as acute headaches, dizziness, and nausea, and distinguish between flu symptoms. Service the fireplace at least once a year to identify problematic issues such as leaks.

Possible Explosions

Leaks and malfunctions on natural gas fireplaces are susceptible to explosions and unexpected fires. One example to watch out for is, if the pilot light is lit and the switch is turned to the "On" position, but the flames of the fireplace are not operating. Standing in front of the fireplace can also cause injury or damage by broken glass thrown outward. Inspect a gas fireplace at least once a year before seasonal usage begins to avoid failures in operation.


When bringing any type of fire operating system inside the home, treat it with respect and awareness. Hire a professional to install the gas fireplace to avoid unnecessary mistakes, such as materials left accidentally against the fireboxes or improper connections with the pilot and ignition switches. Awareness when placing combustible objects near the fireplace can prevent possible damage and unforeseen fires. Another safeguard is to ensure the gas fireplace is switched to the "Off" position on the pilot when not in continual use.

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About the Author

Bettse Folsom began writing and taking photographs for a local newspaper syndicate in 2004. Her work has appeared in magazines such as "The Dot," "At Ease Magazine," "GateHouse Magazine," "American Fitness," "Reunion Magazine," "Grit Gazette" and the "Kansas Traveler." Folsom is pursuing an associate degree in Web design and applications and computer information technology from Kansas City Kansas Community College.