Reuben's Home Inspection Blog

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Dirty glass at gas fireplaces

Originally posted at: http://www.structuretech1.com/2012/07/dirty-glass-at-gas-fireplace

After years of use, gas fireplaces often develop a cloudy white haze on the glass.  This white haze makes the flames difficult to see, ruins any potential illusion that you're looking at a real fireplace, and really kills the mood.  Ok, maybe that's a little dramatic, but it is annoying.

Dirty glass at gas fireplace

White OffThe good news is that you might be able to clean this off.  To clean the white haze off of your gas fireplace glass, you can start by purchasing a product that's made specifically for this, such as White Off.  I picked some up at the Minnetonka Fireside Hearth & Home store for about $8.  It's a small bottle, but for how often you'll use this stuff, it's a lifetime supply.

The next step is to remove the glass on your gas fireplace. This is probably the most difficult part, and every gas fireplace is different, so I can't offer much advice here.   You can try looking up instructions online by searching with your model number - just pop open the bottom access panel, clear away some of the dust, and you should be able to locate the model number.  You'll obviously want to turn the gas off to your fireplace first, and allow the glass to cool down before removing it, if necessary.

Gas fireplace front Gas fireplace model number

After you have removed the glass, place it on a flat surface, such as the floor or a table.  You might want to lay down a towel underneath for good measure, but I chose to live life on the edge while cleaning mine.

Next, follow the directions on the bottle; shake well, apply liberally, clean with paper towel, etc... repeat as necessary.

Cleaning fireplace glass

Once you're done, the glass should look much better and all of the white stuff should be gone. If the glass still looks dirty once you're done with this step, there's probably no cure.  Have you ever noticed how the glass on your gas fireplace will get a bunch of condensation on it when the pilot is lit after having been turned off?

Condensation at glass on gas fireplace

Condensation close up view

This is happening because the warm, moist combustion gases are coming in contact with the relatively cool glass.  As soon as the glass warms up, the condensate disappears... but over time, this repeated exposure to condensation can be enough to permanently etch the glass.  Once this happens, the only repair is to have the glass replaced.  Replacement glass panels for gas fireplaces range from $200 - $400, according to Ken at Glowhearth.

Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

        

Comment balloon 18 commentsReuben Saltzman • July 03 2012 03:40AM

Comments

Good morning Reuben,

I'm going to email this post to a client of mine. She was just wondering how she could clean their glass on their fireplace and you have provided the correct answer! Thanks for the share!!

Posted by Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR, Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate (Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799) over 6 years ago

Hi Reuben.   Do you think it will work on glass in front of a wood burning fireplace too?   Thanks for the info.  Good to have in the back pocket! 

Posted by Carol-Ann Palmieri, "Cal" the Real Estate Gal (RE/MAX Executive Realty, Al and Cal Realty Group) over 6 years ago

Dorie - thanks, that's exactly why I wrote the post.  That top photo was from a house I inspected a couple of weeks ago, and the new buyer was asking about how to clean it.

Al & Cal - I don't think so.  I'll have to research that one next :)

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago
Great job and great blog. Good luck to you and keep up the good work. Thanks.
Posted by JOSH EVANS *JoshEvansHomes 516-655-5000 (Village Properties of Mineola, LLC) over 6 years ago

I once had to get into my gas fireplace for a different reason.  It required my being a cross between engineer and surgeon!  But I got in!  And then put it back together!

I have recommended the cleansers to buyers.  White vinegar also works, but don't tell anybody my secret...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Reuben,

Thanks for the cleaning tips.  I see alot of gas fireplace glass here that that needs cleaning, I will pass on your tips!

Posted by Vince Chinell, CPI (VICO Home Inspection) over 6 years ago
I have been trying to get the white haze off my glass for years. Now I just need to see where I can buy that locally...or maybe online from the place you suggested.
Posted by Christine Smith, Exclusive Buyer Agent & Attorney, Canton, MA (Buyers Brokers Only LLC - www.BuyersBrokersOnly.com) over 6 years ago

Hi Rueben,

I have told a bunch of buyers on ways to clean this dirty film off.

But never mentioned the "White Off" product.

Now I will. Thanks for spreading the news and tips.

Best, clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 6 years ago

Reuben, I have a wood pellet stove that has similar issues with the glass door, do you know of a product to clean this properly?

 

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 6 years ago

Reuben, The condesate is a great reminder of how much moisture is those gases. Good to know about the white off product. Will have that one in the mental notebook (that may be a mistake on my part ; ).

On a inspection a few months ago I fired up a double sided units (one side outside) and I was really amazing how much moisture was produced in the unit. 

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

For wood burning stoves, the simplest way to clean the glass is to dampen a cloth and dip in into the wood ash, add a small amount of elbow grease and glass will be clear as you like!

Posted by Ciaran O'Donovan over 6 years ago

Josh - thanks.

Jay - I've heard about vinegar as well, but haven't tried it.  Have you had good luck with it?

Vince - thanks for passing the info along.

Christine - Ace hardware has a good price online - http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=1445241

Clint - I'm sure the other methods work, but I've always been big on using the right tool for the job.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

Chris - I don't have any great suggestions for cleaning wood stoves... but Ciaran's suggestion below couldn't hurt :)

Donald - I have a suspicion that the new gas fireplaces without standing pilots are going to starting etching glass faster than ever... but I guess time will tell.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

how about soot? I've seen glass so obscured by soot, you couldn't tell if the flame was on. Of course the reason for soot is another blog :)

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 6 years ago

James - my parents have a propane fireplace at their cabin that looks exactly like that.  I'll take it apart and get back to you in a few weeks.  No joke.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

Hey Minneapolis Minnesooooohhhhhta - try white vinegar on it and get back to me!

Actually white vinegar works best when something is allowed to soak in it, but it cleans up a dishwasher really well even on a short cycle.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

I'll do that.  White vinegar works on coffee makers too.

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 6 years ago

Hey Reuben, that’s a great bit of information. One of my friends has been facing problems with cleaning up the glass on the fireplace. I’ll definitely pass on the information.  Thanks for the share!

Posted by J Cruz Insurance (J Cruz Insurance) over 6 years ago

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