We've been making over our fireplace the past few weeks and I finally can show the full reveal! Here's how we replaced our log lighter with gas logs for a stunning reveal!
Everyone knows the fireplace is the focal point of the living room.
That is, unless you had an ugly fireplace to begin with.
This is not what our fireplace looked like when we moved into our Meadow Brook home. It was far from it.
Our new home welcomed us with this eyesore when we moved in.
Nasty, right? Old and stinky ashes - and we moved in September - before fire season here in Birmingham, so that meant those ashes had been sitting for a long time!
Our home used to belong to renters and from what we learned, they weren't the best caretakers of this house.
I loved that we had a natural gas line already piped to this fireplace, but I'm not a fan of wood fire.
In our last home, we loved building a roaring fire, but for some reason, the air wouldn't draw correctly. One time when we went to burn wood, we had smoke in our home. That actually happened a couple of times.
That is a scary thing to experience.
I don't know if it was the ash dump or flue vent or maybe a new log mixed in with the seasoned logs, but it turned me off from building a fire in this home.
Not only that, but our home inspector advised us not to build any fires without getting it thoroughly cleaned.
So a few years ago, I gave this fireplace a quick update and I was able to clean out the ash and soot and gave the firebox a fresh coat of high heat paint.
Which looked okay from afar, until you got up close.
There are cracks in the bottom of the fireplace and this log lighter had seen better days.
Plus there was a metal burner tube and burner system that resembled the eye on a stove.
My best option was to disguise it.
I've used plants, candles and even a tobacco basket to hide the log lighter from sight.
I knew there had to be a way to get the fireplace of my dreams!
What is a Log Lighter?
A log lighter is a gas starter installed in a real wood burning fireplace and is an easy way to start a a fire for the first time without the need of tiny pieces of wood kindling and wads of newspaper. Once the fire is burning well, you turn off the gas and enjoy the flames.
But it does require a gas line to be run to the fireplace. And there is a risk that if it has been misused, then the pipe can become damaged.
So that was the other concern I had. Knowing that this wasn't taken care of in the first place, I didn't trust the log lighter without getting it inspected first.
I don't know the popularity of gas log lighters these days, but I imagine it's not as desired as it once was.
The Importance of Cleaning a Chimney
Before we dove into this fireplace update, I hired a Chimney Sweep to come and inspect our firebox.
That gave it a good cleaning and explained that the cracks in the firebox were okay and were not dangerous for gas logs.
I asked about the type of logs we should get. Ventless gas logs really interested me. But the service technician explained that my fireplace wasn't ideal for a ventless gas log set.
Mainly because of the distance between the fireplace and the mantel. And secondly, they explained that there have been issues with carbon monoxide. Plus, many countries are starting to ban the use of vent-free gas logs.
That was enough info for me to go with a direct vent gas fireplace.
The last thing they stressed was continuing regular maintenance and have the chimney cleaned even with gas logs. There still can be build up that could possibly be combustible.
Once we had a clean and approved fireplace, I started the process of making over the exterior.
You can read all about our Lime Slurry Application in this blog post.
How To Choose Gas Fireplace Logs?
There are so many options for beautiful gas fireplace log sets these days. And the gas logs you choose depends on your personal preference.
It also depends of the fuel type you have. But there are sets made with glass instead of logs, or the latest trend are the gas cannon balls. So many types of gas logs out there to explore.
Some even have a remote control! However, I've read that the remote mechanism can fail easily and it's pricey to get replacement parts.
After our inspection, we knew we needed to look for logs that fit worked with direct vent fireplaces.
For us, budget is always a factor and we had no idea how much gas logs cost. We wanted to update the look of our fireplace without any major changes to the gas line.
First, we visited some local stores and immediately left with price shock!
Some were super expensive and honestly didn't look that good.
So I went to our local home improvement stores and didn't find any in stock. But I visited Amazon and found a set of realistic gas logs that had great reviews.
We purchased the Peterson Real Fyre gas log set for less than $400 and loved how they looked. One thing that made this affordable was choosing not to have an ignition system. Which means, when we light the fire, we will need to use a lit match or a lighter.
We finished the masonry fireplace exterior, had the chimney swept and cleaned and finally purchased the type of gas logs we wanted - aka affordable! 😉
Now we could finally install them.
How to Replace a Log Lighter?
I'm sure there are many people who can DIY - but for us, the solution was simple.
Call a plumber.
Our motto is, if it can burn, shock us or leak, then it's a good idea to leave it to the professionals.
So I got a quote from a local plumber who would install the logs for $150. Well worth the price and the peace of mind. Especially knowing that the he removed the old system properly.
What I also loved is that a plumber can ensure the gas valve is working properly and show us how to correctly adjust the flame height.
Once Trent saw the huge wrenches needed to remove the old log lighter, we knew we made the right decision. Those tools are not cheap.
After they removed the log lighter, they placed a burner pan on the bottom of the fireplace, filled it with sand and this cool material that makes the fire look like embers.
Then they referenced the user manual for the log placement.
Did you know that the stack of ceramic logs must be set a certain way?
Now some sets include a damper clamp, but our plumber did not recommend we install that. It basically leaves your flue constantly open which can suck energy right out your chimney when not in use.
If we had glass doors, I could see that being an option, but the plumber showed us a step by step guide on how to light the logs from start to finish.
The one thing we were missing from this install were the rocks that fill the bottom of the fireplace.
I went back to Amazon and purchased a bag and it makes such a difference.
After the first few fires, the logs started to look charred which adds to the realistic look, if you ask me.
So now I have the fireplace of my dreams, complete with these beautiful gas logs!
The added lava rocks made the most difference.
It helped hide the cracked firebox and it actually creates some awesome radiant heat! We haven't tested the room temperature, but we could definitely feel the heat in the entire living space.
And if we want to control the heat, we can turn the gas valve down where there are just small flames burning.
So if you aren't in love with your existing fireplace and were wondering how to replace a log lighter with a set of gas logs, then I hope this inspired you to take the plunge.
I am so happy that I did and wish I would have made this change much sooner.