Gas fireplaces are designed to look like many other forms of fireplace including wood-burning but have a number of distinct features that can help you to identify whether your own fireplace is gas.
Common signs that your fireplace is a gas fireplace include:
- There’s a bed of media commonly in the form of logs, coals or pebbles that’s made from ceramic and therefore fake imitations of the real thing.
- A control knob or set of control knobs can be found somewhere on the fireplace, typically underneath the firebox, and may indicate a gas fireplace with gas and/or pilot light symbols.
- You can see an ignition system.
- There’s a gas line within or near to the fireplace.
- The front of the fireplace is either open or contains a sheet of glass.
- The fireplace can be identified by the rating plate that identifies the type and model of gas fireplace, typically located in the control compartment or burner assembly area which on many models of gas fireplace insert is located behind the firefront at the base.
- It’s stated in the paper version of the manual.
We’ve been using gas fireplaces alongside a number of other types of fireplace for a number of years.
We’ve explained the main ways on how to identify a gas fireplace in more detail below using our own gas fireplaces as examples.
How Do I Know If I Have A Gas Fireplace?
1. Bed Of Faux Media
As gas fireplaces only burn gas as the source of fuel from a dedicated gas fuel line, they commonly incorporate a bed of faux media for aesthetic purposes.
This media bed can commonly be found in the form of logs but can be also be coals or pebbles depending on the model of fireplace and the chosen media bed.
For example, our gas fireplace has a coal media bed.
By inspecting the media bed of a gas fireplace more closely you’ll see that the media is fake and not a set of real logs or coals.
The media bed of a gas fireplace is typically made from ceramic that can withstand very high temperatures. As such, the media bed of a gas fireplace won’t burn when the flames are on and so the logs or coals in a gas fireplace are only for show.
Other types of fireplace such as open wood burning fireplaces and fireplace inserts use real firewood as fuel.
Electric fireplaces will also have some sort of media bed but as there’s no real fire in an electric fireplace and this media, in the form of logs and coals etc, will also be fake.
For example, it’s clear when inspecting our own electric fireplace up close that the log effects are faux and not very detailed.
The log or coal effects of a gas fireplace can be much more realistic and so inspect them up close if possible to confirm whether the media of your fireplace is fake or not.
To know whether you have a gas fireplace inspect the media bed for signs that logs, coals or other effects are made from ceramic. The media bed should look fairly realistic but when inspecting up close and/or touching you’ll be able to see that they’re in fact fake.
2. Gas Controls
Gas fireplaces typically have a very distinctive set of controls.
These controls are often in the form of a knob or dial that can be rotated clockwise and anticlockwise to both start a gas fire and increase the flame size and heat output.
The controls for a gas fireplace are often hidden away behind a cover on the fireplace for looks purposes.
For example, the control knob to our gas fireplace is hidden behind the firefront located at the base of the gas insert.
Removing the firefront (which isn’t directly attached to the insert) on our own gas fireplace shows the control knob behind.
There may be more than one set of controls on a gas fireplace. For example, if our gas fireplace insert had been the remote control version then there would have been a further control dial to the right.
A remote control for use with a fireplace can also indicate that it may be a gas fireplace.
Look out for further signs that you have a gas fireplace including any spark or flame symbols on the controls.
The spark symbol on the control knob of our gas fireplace alongside the work ‘pilot’ indicates the pilot spark system to start the pilot light on the fireplace. The small and large flames symbols indicate the small and larger flames that are produced at their respective stages on the control.
A gas fireplace will typically have a set of distinctive controls not found with any other form of fireplace, and commonly in the form of a dial or set of dials.
The word ‘pilot’ written anywhere on the controls can also help indicate that the fireplace is gas.
3. Ignition System
A gas fireplace will also have a distinctive ignition system not found in any other form of fireplace.
The ignition system in our particular model of gas fireplace insert is located just behind and to the side of the control dial.
The type of ignition found in a certain gas fireplace will depend on whether it’s using the more established millivolt ignition or the more modern electronic ignition system.
Whichever one is being used, the distinctive look of an ignition system in a gas fireplace should mean that it’s easy to identify.
A gas fireplace ignition will commonly consist of two or more components: one of which can be where the gas comes out and the other(s) providing the spark to create the flame.
Our gas fireplace uses a double-action piezo spark ignition system with the three components found on the ignition.
To help identify a gas fireplace look for an ignition system that may be visible on natural vent gas fireplaces.
4. Gas Line
A gas fireplace must be supplied with gas in order to work. As a result, gas must be supplied to a fireplace from either the mains gas for the house or another source.
A fireplace with a nearby gas line can indicate that your fireplace is gas.
For example, our gas fireplace insert has a gas line with a gas isolation valve located round to the side of the chimney breast.
Inspecting this pipe closer shows a shut off valve for the gas (in the closed position at the time of taking this photo).
A pipe, potentially with a shut-off valve, located near to a fireplace can indicate that the fireplace is gas powered and that this is the gas line to the fireplace.
5. Open Or Glass Front
Depending on the type of gas fireplace (natural vent, direct vent or ventless) the fireplace will either be open to the room or have a glass panel at the front in which to view the flames through.
Natural ‘b-vent’ gas fireplaces (like ours) will be open to the room, while direct vent gas fireplaces will be located within the sealed chamber to ensure that the air within the fireplace and the room don’t mix for venting purposes.
As a gas fireplace can come in either closed or open form, you’ll need to inspect the fireplace further to identify whether it’s gas or not.
With open natural vent gas fireplaces, you can inspect and touch the firebox and the media to help confirm that it’s gas but with closed-off direct vent models of gas fireplace you may need to look more closely at the surrounding components such as the controls.
Different types of gas fireplace available means that a gas fireplace can’t necessarily be identified by checking whether it’s open or closed off to the room.
Direct vent gas fireplaces that are closed off to the room with a pane of glass may require further inspection than a natural vent one to help confirm whether a fireplace is gas.
6. Rating Plates
Gas fireplaces will typically have rating plates that help the installer and/or user what brand and model of gas fireplace it as and its requirements.
On our gas fireplace it’s referred to as the appliance data plate and can be found in the same compartment as the controls next to the ignition (all located behind the firefront).
To help confirm whether you have a gas fireplace look for a plate somewhere within or on the fireplace that states the make, model and data for that specific gas fireplace.
7. Check The Manual
Gas fireplaces will typically come with a paper copy of the instruction manual, which can be used to confirm that a fireplace is indeed a gas variant.
However, many fireplace manuals are thrown away or lost. The manual to our gas fireplace was missing when the house was bought with it installed and so we had to find and use the information stated on the rating plate to find an electronic copy of the manual.
Check the manual to confirm that a fireplace is a gas fireplace.
In the absence of a manual, use the information displayed on the rating plate to find a copy of the instruction manual online.
What’s Inside A Gas Fireplace