Gas fireplaces are a modern marvel. Many gas logs look very realistic and bring the charm of a traditional wood fireplace to a room without all the mess. While gas fireplaces are much easier to maintain than wood fireplaces, you might be wondering, "Does that convenience come at a cost?" "Do I have to sacrifice the quality of a wood fireplace or stove to enjoy the convenience of a gas fireplace?"
In this article, we will explore those questions and discuss how long you can expect a gas fireplace to last. There are many things to consider when talking about longevity, so we will break it down into parts and talk you through each one step by step. Happy reading!
1. The Firebox
There are three types of gas fireplaces: direct vent, b-vent and ventless. All three types are built with a central firebox. These fireboxes are typically made from galvanized steel and made to be used indoors. With an indoor gas firebox, their lifespan can be longer than 50 years.
For the most part, a firebox will not need much maintenance to keep it functioning. Though, if you happen to have a gas fireplace without a decorative liner in the firebox, the paint on the inside may peel from time to time. When that happens, you'll need to repaint with fireplace or stove paint. You can not use regular paint as it will not hold up to the intense temperatures inside your firebox.
If you have an issue with a burner, the good news is most burner tubes can be swapped out. Though, you have to be aware that the availability of parts may limit how speedy your fireplace is fixed.
Most burners are coated with high-temperature fireplace paint to protect them from rust. They may also be made with corrosion-resistant steel or aluminum. Burners should last around 25 years for the average person. So, you can expect to get a long life out of this piece in your fireplace.
3. Gas Valves
While burners and fireboxes are pretty straightforward, gas valves are slightly more complicated. Basic on/off standing pilot valves are very durable. Since they have very few "moving parts" and their design is well refined, they can easily last around 25 years.
Though, when you bring electronic valves into the mix, longevity begins to decrease. Electronic pilots or IPI systems use electronic motors and control modules. Unfortunately, these systems only last around 15 years and don't quite compare to the lifetime of a standing pilot.
4. Ceramic Logs and Decorative Liners
Between ceramic refractory and ceramic fiber, ceramic fiber logs are the least durable gas logs available. Ceramic refractory gas logs are made from reinforced cement and can last 8 - 10 years before they ever show signs of wear. Ceramic fiber gas logs on the other hand are very lightweight and made from a material similar to hard foam. Ceramic fiber logs will break down over time and begin to show signs of wear around the 5-year mark. Though, with average use, they will likely last 10 -15 years before they need to be replaced.
When it comes to decorative liners, similar issues apply. Wood-burning fireplaces will need cast refractory liners to hold up against the intense heat. While gas fireplaces will have the option of using cast refractory, ceramic fiber or polished metal. Like with the gas logs, ceramic fiber liners will break down more quickly than cast refractory. So, you do need to be aware of that when choosing liners for your fireplace. Thankfully, even if your liners or gas logs do begin to show signs of wear, this will not ruin the effectiveness of your fireplace. The appliance can still operate well even if those parts aren't looking their best. So that buys you time in between to prepare to buy new parts as you need them.
5. Blowers, Remotes & Interior Lighting
This category of parts comes with some pros and cons. Let's start with the good news first. When you come to a point where you need to replace a fireplace remote, blower or light, you should be able to find them pretty easily & replace them without much hassle.
The downside to the ease of replacement is you will probably need to replace these parts more often than most of the others. It isn't uncommon to need to replace a fireplace blower or remote after 8 - 10 years of normal use. And you cant just go online and buy any blower you want because it's cheap. Most fireplace blowers are brand specific at the least. Some are even model-specific. What that means is, some brands make blowers that can be used by several fireplaces they sell. Some brands sell blowers that only work for a specific fireplace. Though, none of them will be good with a random blower you bought on Ebay.
6. Pilot & Ignitor Assemblies
Some people save the best for last. But that is not what we have done here today. Unfortunately, the last item on our list of gas fireplace parts is the one that is most susceptible to wear and tear. How quickly a pilot assembly burns out has everything to do with how you use it. Some people leave their pilot light burning all winter long. While that may be more convenient for you, it will also wear down the part much faster.
As it wears down it loses the ability to create voltage to operate the unit. A pilot light that is left on frequently could last as little as 5 years and ones that aren't can last as much as 10 years. Even though it is the most common part that needs replacing in a gas fireplace, it is relatively inexpensive when you do need to replace it.
To wrap things up, there are many parts that you have to consider when talking about how long a gas fireplace will last. As with any appliance, periodic maintenance will ensure you get the most life out of your fireplace and keep it burning for years to come. Should you have questions about anything we discussed here, please reach out to our NFI certified techs at 800.203.1642