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Repairing a leaking fireplace gas valve

QuestionThe gas company has determined that my fireplace key-controlled gas valve is leaking gas. The Blue Flame valve is installed in the brick approximately 2 feet above the floor. What's your suggestion on the best way to replace this faulty valve: remove the firebrick on the inside of the fireplace, break out several bricks on the front of the fireplace at the valve opening, or remove several bricks on the side wall of the fireplace? —Thank you for any suggestions you are able to provide.

AnswerYou have an interesting project. It's really hard to make suggestions, especially when I can't see it, but I will give it my best shot. It is always best to work from the inside out, i.e., I would work through the firebox so as not to disturb your face bricks. If you work through the face bricks, your new mortar will not match the existing mortar and you could damage the brick, which may not be replaceable. Repairs done through the firebox will be less obvious. If you feel confident in handling this project, then that's the route to take. Begin with an electric drill equipped with a masonry bit and drill out the mortar around one brick. Once you remove this first brick, the rest should come out easily.

When you reach the fireplace valve, you can repair or replace it. Without seeing it, I am unable to tell you how to diagnose and/or fix the leak. Some jurisdictions require that such problems be handled by a licensed professional gas contractor, and because of the safety concerns involved, that would be my strong recommendation.

You might also want to read my article, Repair a firebox floor. It will provide insights on how to replace the firebricks following a valve repair. However, if I were in your shoes, I would hire both a licensed professional mason and a licensed professional gas contractor to make this repair.

Copyright © 2002 & 2005 LAF/C.R.S., Inc. All rights reserved.
Question answered by Leon A. Frechette.



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