Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Put another log on the fire...

Or turn up the gas.

I'm ashamed to admit that we have owned this house more than 2 years and we'd never even bothered to see if the gas logs work.

A good friend of ours used to be a chimney sweep; while he was over for beers, he started geeking out over the fireplace-- we didn't force him to give us free advice/labor, I swear! He took a look through the flue, and even climbed up on the roof in the dark to check the state of the chimney. He burned some newspaper to see if it drew, and then took the logs apart to see if they worked.

Long and short is this: chimney is super clean, as in, it's possible it was never used for wood; if it was used for wood, the creosote has dissolved over the last 40+ years, as the logs are a 1968 model. The chimney draws really well, and the logs are indeed still hooked up to gas and light up like they're supposed to. However, the ceramic logs didn't get very hot (the cat jumped on them while lit, so...yeah.), but it was still neat to have a fire.

Now we have a decision to make. We can use these logs or get a new set of gas logs-- they aren't very expensive at all. We can take out the gas logs and burn wood, but we have to clean it extremely frequently. We can have the chimney relined, so we don't have to clean it so often. And I would assume that we could convert the gas line into a starter if we wanted to.

We had a fireplace in one of our houses growing up, and it was nice when we used it; most of the time, though, we were all too lazy to light it up. I sort of like the idea of gas logs that I can just turn on and turn off when I feel like it, and it sounds like this may have been original to the house in terms of use (the logs in there aren't original, but maybe there were always gas logs there).

On the other hand, you sure as hell can't beat the smell of a real wood fireplace. And a gas starter would make me more inclined to use it; but if we're going to use it a lot, we should get it lined, I guess.

So many choices. Any thoughts?


Dave said...

Before getting married, I used to live in my brothers house, renting a room. He wasnt home often and we had a fireplace there. Its the best feeling in the world to sit down by the fire, bundle up near it with some hot chocolate and a good book. No TV, no heater running... Just you and the fireplace really.

Now that Im married and with our own place, Im a little upset we didnt hold out for a house with a fireplace. It was on my "must have" list when looking for a house, but we just sort of fell in love with the place we got. Eventually I would like to put in a fireplace, at whatever cost... I dont care. And not a gas one either. All the new homes in California now being built have gas fireplaces. Its just not the same. In fact there is an on/off switch on the wall as if its a light bulb or something. No, no. A fireplace is the most primitive. It brings you back to nature really. Gathering the wood, cutting the wood if needed, trying to build the wood in the fireplace and then trying to light it to keep yourself and loved ones warm. It has been getting cool after dark now and when I pull up home from work I get out of the car and can smell peoples fires burning. Ahhhhh, it smells soooo good. No Yankee Candle can match that smell!

-1916home.net :)

Amalie said...

You're so right, Dave. Honestly, it's the smell of real wood that's making me want to convert it. When we moved into the house my mother still lives in, she and I INSISTED on a fireplace, so my dad installed one and built a beautiful Federal Revival mantle. But we were all so busy that we never took the time to build the fire. If we decided not to line it, I'd be even less inclined to use it since I'd know I just had to clean it soon; but I worry about spending all the money upfront to reline it, only to be too lazy to really build a fire.

The other thing is, since this was likely built for gas, the logs will have to be small, and tended to frequently. But that's ok too.

And if gas logs were there originally, that adds one more point to the gas column.

I'm just so torn! I think if we did switch to wood, I would at the very least turn the gas line into a starter so I'd be more likely to use it.

Iris said...

I vote for sticking with gas. But I'm just way too lazy to deal with everything involved in making a wood fire (and $$$), plus it's rarely very cold here anyway. Our 1941 house has a faux fireplace with gas connection, and we've never bought new logs to test it either. So at least you know you're not as lazy as we are...

Amalie said...

It's indeed my laziness that's swaying me away from wood, Iris. However, I think that in the end, I'm ultimately more inclined to reline and make it a wood burning fireplace. Gas isn't exactly renewable, and this isn't our main source of heat. Just a supplement and something to fall back on if we get hit with another whopper of an ice storm.

Green Fairy said...

I would say go with the real wood. We burned real wood at our condo, and it was heavenly. (I wish our current home had a fireplace.)

The other units in the building all used gas logs, and when we'd visit our neighbors there would be an odd odor in the air. It's kind of hard to explain, it just smelled "hot" and "unnatural." It wasn't the gas odoront, or whatever it is they put into the mix. Anyway, not as heavenly. And certainly no crackling and popping sounds. Way too quiet.