AUSTIN–– The Railroad Commission offers the following safety tips for Texans enjoying the cozy warmth of a propane gas log set this winter. As the state’s chief energy agency, the Railroad Commission has been in charge of propane safety in Texas for more than 50 years.
“More and more Texans are fueling their fireplaces with clean-burning propane gas logs,” said Railroad Commission Chairman Elizabeth Ames Jones, “And it is easy to see why. Gas logs don’t smoke up the neighborhood, and they turn on at the flip of a switch. But they don’t turn off by themselves like a wood fire, so remember to switch off your gas log when you leave the room for an extended period and before you go to sleep.”
Even though gas log owners no longer have to split and stack firewood or haul ashes out of the fireplace, gas-fired logs do require some maintenance.
Commissioner David Porter said,“Have a trained technician install the units and schedule a regular maintenance checkup at the start of the heating season. The checkup should include cleaning the control compartments and burner and checking all the components for proper operation.”
Gas logs may be vented or unvented. Unvented units do not have to be vented through a chimney or flue. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, unvented gas heaters are gaining in popularity because they are relatively inexpensive, easy to install and efficient.
Commissioner Barry T. Smitherman said, “Consumers should know whether their gas logs are vented or un-vented. If they are vented, make sure the fireplace where the logs are installed is designed for actual use, not just for decoration. Inspect it to see that it has adequate protective linings and that the chimney is clear and in good repair.”
Vent-free models are easier to install, but they can pose a health hazard because they draw their combustion air from inside the room. That can deplete the room’s oxygen level and may produce some carbon monoxide (CO). They also produce water vapor, which can cause problems when they operate often or for a long time, especially in a “tight” home that has limited infiltration of outside air. Newer models of vent-free appliances come with an oxygen depletion sensor that will automatically turn off the unit if the oxygen drops below a specified level.
For more information on how to stay warm safely with propane this winter, view the following website link at: http://altenergy.rrc.texas.gov or call the Railroad Commission’s Alternative Energy Division at (800) 64-CLEAR.