Are Propane Gas Log Heaters Safe?

Propane gas log sets come in a variety of styles and sizes. They are generally safe to operate but only for an hour or less at a time. The Canadian study here  found that 1 in 5 homes using vent less heaters like the gas log sets found in many San Miguel homes had unsafe levels of carbon monoxide (CO) and oxides of nitrogen dioxide (NO2).  Your log set is probably located in a fireplace nicho, but don’t let that fool you. Look inside and up and you most likely will find there is no vent or chimney. You have a vent less heater and you need to be careful.

Personally, I find them unhealthy and I hope to see more homes with direct vent heaters, radiant in-floor heat and other safer and healthier heaters installed in San Miguel homes.  Gas log sets are designed to burn less efficiently with a yellow flame (like a real fire) instead of the more efficient blue flame. Fortunately, the doors and windows in many San Miguel homes leak air and this allows for contaminated air to exit and cleaner air to enter. But of course this lowers the efficiency of your heaters.

What are the warning signs:

  • yellow/orange flame instead of blue/white indicate less complete combustion
  • strong smell of combustion
  • physical symptoms of incomplete combustion (eyes burning, headaches, nausea, dizziness etc)

What can you do ?

  • install carbon monoxide sensors that sound an alarm
  • purchase good quality gas heaters,
  • service the gas heater every year in the fall and insure you have blue flames indicating more complete combustion of the propane gas
  • do not use your heaters continuously, use them for an hour at most and supplement with electric heaters, warm clothes, electric blankets etc.
  • open you doors and window when the outside temperature is higher than in your house. Close up in the late afternoon when you feel the cool air outside.