Why should I have my Gas fireplace inspected?

It seems obvious to most people that the chimney of a wood-burning fireplace is going to need annual cleaning because of the buildup of soot and creosote. A gas fireplace, on the other hand, burns nice and neat. So, why is it important to get the chimney for a gas appliance inspected and cleaned annually? Gas-burning fireplaces are a real convenience and, compared to wood burning, have a low maintenance factor. But there are several potential problems that can occur with gas and with a chimney used for any type of heating system, all of which can become a danger if not resolved.


Gas fireplaces sometimes have a buildup of debris. For example, ceramic logs can deteriorate and clog vents.

If the exterior chimney has a cracked crown or if the mortar joints are in poor condition, moisture can enter the chimney system and cause the flue tiles to break off and fall into the hearth.

It’s important to have the entire fireplace cleaned and ready for another year of use, including cleaning any residue from the glass doors, inside and out.


One thing you don’t ever want to take for granted year after year is that the equipment in a gas fireplace is operating the way it should. Over time, valves and connections could develop leaks. Thermopile and thermocouple could be worn and/or need cleaning. The ceramic logs should be checked to ensure they are properly placed and in working condition.

Gas fireplaces are susceptible to explosions and sudden fires, if there are any leaks or malfunctions. One problem that occurs is that the pilot light will be on, the gas turned to the “on” position, but the fireplace isn’t operating. People have been injured by standing in front of gas fireplaces when broken glass is thrust outward, due to a malfunction.


Animals, such as birds, can get into your chimney and build a nest which blocks proper ventilation for your gas fireplace.

Even though a gas fireplace burns clean, meaning that no creosote or soot is deposited in your chimney, the structure still needs to be inspected annually.  As mentioned above, moisture problems can cause the chimney to deteriorate and fail to function properly.


Any type of open combustion system has the potential to cause house fires. Gas fireplaces should be treated with the same level of awareness and respect as wood-burning fireplaces, including being cleaned and inspected annually.

Contact our certified professional chimney sweeps for help installing and maintaining your gas fireplace system, to keep your family safe.

HVAC so much, here’s a list of HVAC facts and statistics that you should consider!

Because we love HVAC so much, here’s a list of HVAC facts and statistics that you should consider (some of them will save you money):

Turning Your Thermostat Back can save you up to 1% for each degree you set it back, if you leave it for 8 hours. So, if you set it back 10º when you go to work, you could save 10% on your heating/cooling bill. Setting it back will cause your HVAC system to run less, saving you money in the long-run.

41.5% of Energy Consumption Goes to Heating in the average U.S. home as of 2009. Heaters run more often and harder than air conditioners. We recommend having your heating system serviced to make sure it’s still in good working condition.

We Used 99 Quadrillion BTU in 2017. Quadrillion is after the trillion, and a BTU is the amount of energy it takes to heat 1 pound of water by 1ºF.

The Average Expected Lifespan of a Furnace is 20 years. How does your furnace compare? If it’s been more than 20 years, it’s probably time to find a new one because yours may not last much longer! When you find one, let us know and we’ll come out to install it for you.

The Average Expected Lifespan of a Boiler is 15 years. Boilers are generally cheaper than furnaces in the long-run, but they go up much earlier=. If yours is approaching or has passed the 15 year point, it may be time for a new one.

The Average Expected Lifespan of a Central Air Conditioner is 20 years. Don’t let this sneak up on you in the middle of a hot summer. Shop around before it’s too late.
In 2012, the U.S. Received 2.2 Million Shipments of Furnaces. How many of these were installed in total is unknown, but it’s a safe guess to say around 1.8-2.0 million furnaces are in U.S. homes today. Over 98% of them are gas furnaces; 2% are oil furnaces.

What will a furnace repair cost?

This is a question I get constantly. What will a furnace repair cost?

Site unseen this is something that cannot be answered on the phone. Further investigation is necessary to determine what has malfunctioned.

On average Iowa spends $310.00 per repair. Ranges can be between $92.00 on the low end and $1350.00 on the high side.

Things that need to be factored into the cost is the type of furnace, (Electric, Propane, Natural Gas, Forced Air Heating, Boiler Repair or Heat Pump).

In addition the parts necessary with the labor hours. There are items in a furnace that can go bad such as blower motors, heat  exchangers, igniters, flame sensors, thermostats, and again those all depend on the age, make, model of the unit.

At some point in time you will need to weigh the cost of repairs with the cost of replacement. Let Mount Vernon Heating and Cooling help you make that decision.

A good rule of thumb is if your repairs exceed 50% of the cost of a new one. its time to replace.

Safety Tips For Heating Options In Your Home

When the weather gets colder, people need to start using their heat. It is important to understand the heating options you have for your home. With the Iowa weather getting colder, many people are utilizing their heat. There are many factors to take into consideration when purchasing heating options for your home. Do you have smoke alarms installed around your home? Can they detect levels of carbon monoxide poisoning? Fortunately, many tragedies are preventable. It only takes a little education to protect your family and your home. Learning how to identify potentially hazardous situations is what will protect you and your home. Safety Should Always Come First. Safety and protection is crucial when it comes to a heating emergency. There are no rules to follow, however, these guidelines will help protect yourself and your home from preventable fire hazards. Listed below are a few examples of heating options. We will discuss the proper usage and prevention you can have with all heating options.

General Safety

  • DO NOT use your kitchen stove top or oven to heat your home. This is a severe fire hazard.
  • If you don’t already have them, install smoke alarms that have a battery back up. You should have one installed for every floor in your home. We recommend that you test your alarms once every three months.
  • Ventilation is very important when handling flames, fire places or candles. We recommend that you open a window or a door to help circulate the air.
  • Always remember to turn off heating options before leaving the room or going to sleep.
  • If you smell gas in your home, leave immediately. Do not use flammable items. We recommend that you contact your local fire department.
  • Never leave burning candles unattended.

Electric Space Heaters

  • Children should not have direct access to any type of portable heater, whether electric or fuel powered.
  • Space heaters need their own space. Everything should be kept at least 3 feet away.
  • NEVER refill your space heater while it is on and operating or currently hot.
  • For any type of portable heater, check if it is equipped with “tip switches.” Tip switches are designed to automatically turn off the heating element if the heater were to fall over. This safety switch protects your home and fabrics from catching fire.
  • Extension cords are not ideal for portable heaters. They should be plugged directly into the electrical outlet to prevent potential fire issues.
  • Your portable heater should have a thermostat control. This will prevent the heater from getting to a high degree of heat.
  • Always unplug the portable heater if not in use.
  • Use the correct type of fuel, specified by the manufacturer.


  • Your fireplace should be protected with glass doors or metal screens. This helps prevent hot ashes from igniting fabrics or other combustible items in your home. It is common to see sparks from the fire as well.
  • Do not use charcoal, for outdoor grills, in a fireplace. They will release odorless toxins and carbon monoxide into the air.
  • Clean your fireplace and chimney annually. Just like your air conditioning system, you should have an annual inspection.
  • Always have the damper open prior to lighting a fire.
  • Do not burn paper, trash or other items in your fireplace. These materials will cause buildup in your fire pit, which could be difficult to control.
  • Do not go to bed with the fireplace still lit. The fire should be completely extinguished before leaving the room.


  • Always use your generator outdoors. Be sure the area is open and dry.
  • Carbon monoxide buildup can be preventable. Keep the generator away from windows, doors and air vents.
  • Do not use your generator while it’s raining.
  • Cool down the generator before refueling. Look for spilled gasoline on the engine parts. This could cause a fire.
  • We recommend that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions. This will provide information and directions on how to use and maintain the generator.
  • Plug directly into the generator. For appliances or other heavy duty machines, plug into generator instead of a regular extension cord. However, you can use an outdoor-rated extension cord that had watts or amps equal to the connected appliances.

It’s always nice to come home to a warm cozy house on a cool day. With these heating options, there are many ways to provide heat for your family. Safety is important when dealing with heating elements. If you are not careful when handling these heating devices, you could lose control of the situation. Educate yourself and contact us if you have any questions.


Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning in Your Home with Regular Furnace Tune-Ups

The most common way carbon monoxide can leak into your home from a natural gas furnace is through a cracked heat exchanger.that is heated up when the burners are ignited. The outside of the heat exchanger is where the cold air passes, becoming warm and distributed throughout the home’s ductwork. Inside your furnace, natural gas is burning to create the heat, and the heat exchanger keeps the by-products of the burning natural gas, including carbon monoxide, from mixing with the air you breathe. If a crack appears in the heat exchanger, there is an increased potential for the carbon monoxide to leak into the distributed air and circulate around the home.

The heat exchanger is the only barrier separating the toxic gases from your air supply, so if it cracks, that could pose a major risk to your family’s health if the problem does not get addressed in time.

The tough part about these situations is you don’t see or smell carbon monoxide and you may not see a visible crack in your furnace, let alone remembering the last time you even had someone look at your furnace. However, as the metal of the heat exchanger is continuously heated then cooled when shut off, the expansion and contraction can open the crack even more.

What Causes a Heat Exchanger to Crack?

There are a lot of reasons, and the heat exchanger is meant to fail eventually, typically after about 15 to 18 years of use. That’s the case with any major appliance in your home. Age and constant use will wear it. The issue is premature failure, which often results from misapplication or poor furnace maintenance.

Misapplication of Your Furnace

Sometimes, the furnace in a home is too big for the size of the home. This can lead to short cycling or cycling on limit, causing the heat exchanger to heat up and cool down too often. The heat exchanger will be overworked and show that stress with a crack.

Poor Furnace Maintenance

More often than not, though, poor maintenance is the culprit of premature heat exchanger failure. When was the last time you had your furnace checked? Do you know what your furnace filter looks like? A lack of airflow to your furnace due to a dirty, dusty filter will result in your furnace overheating. In turn, your heat exchanger will endure the same overheating and cooling until, eventually, it cracks.

Furnace Tune-Ups and Maintenance

All of these causes are preventable, extending the life of your furnace and keeping your family and home safe. The easiest way to prevent your heat exchanger from cracking is by scheduling furnace tune-ups and heat exchanger inspections every six months. Contact Mt Vernon Heating and Cooling to check your furnace before you need it this winter. These inspections will warn you if any part of your furnace, including the heat exchanger, needs to be replaced. If an inspector finds a crack in your heat exchanger, the industry standard is to replace that heat exchanger right away. A repair won’t solve the problem. A full replacement is necessary to ensure your safety.