Featuring America's Home Inspector: Nationally Syndicated Columnist, Barry Stone

The House Detective:  by Barry Stone, Certified Home Inspector

Dear Barry: We have a gas log fireplace in our home and would like to have real wood fires. Would it be safe to remove the gas logs and burn real logs instead?  Dave

Dear Dave: Before making changes to your fireplace, you should determine the type of fixture that you have, as well as its internal condition. If it was originally built as a wood-burning fireplace and then converted to a gas log set-up, it may be possible to return to solid-fuel use. This would depend on the extent of the conversion and the reason the conversion was made. For example, if the firebox or the damper assembly was altered, wood-burning use may no longer be safe. If a metal flue liner was installed, the liner may not be suited for the high temperatures produced by solid fuel combustion.  If the conversion was made because the firebox or the chimney was damaged, a return to wood combustion may not be possible without making costly repairs.

It is also possible that the fixture was never intended for solid fuel. It may have been specifically manufactured as a gas-burning appliance. If so, it should not be used with any fuel other than gas, no exceptions. Altering the intended use of a gas fireplace could damage the unit and cause a fire in your home.

Before making any changes in the way your fireplace is used, have it thoroughly inspected by a certified chimney sweep to ensure that all such changes are safe and in full compliance with applicable requirements. Otherwise, your home could become a “fire-place.”