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why does my gas fireplace smell like burning plastic

Why Does my Gas Fireplace smell like burning plastic? Let's find out

Gas fireplaces add warmth and ambiance to homes, but an unpleasant burning plastic smell can ruin the experience. Don't worry, this issue is common and often fixable. 

This article explores the potential culprits behind that awful stench and provides solutions to help you enjoy a cozy, odor-free fire again.:

Why does my gas fireplace smell like burning plastic?

A gas fireplace can emit a burning plastic odor due to various reasons, including new components burning off residues, overheating or deteriorating plastic parts, faulty gas valves causing incomplete combustion, or debris inside the fireplace. Addressing the underlying cause is extremely crucial.

Key Takeaways:

  • A burning plastic smell from a gas fireplace often indicates an issue that requires attention.
  • Potential causes include new components, overheating parts, faulty gas valves, debris, or deteriorating components.
  • Address the root cause through cleaning, maintenance, part replacements, or professional repairs.
  • Persistent strong odors or fumes indicate a potential safety hazard that requires immediate action.

Possible Causes of Burning Plastic Smell

New Fireplace or Components

Whether your fireplace is wall mounted or not, If your gas fireplace is brand new or you've recently replaced some parts, that plastic burning smell could be temporary. Manufacturers often use oils and other residues during production that can cause odors when initially heated.

This should go away after the first few uses as those residues burn off.

Overheated Components 

Overheated Components

Gas fireplaces generate a lot of heat similar like lighting a fire pit, and if certain components overheat, they may emit a burnt plastic aroma. Improper ventilation or inadequate clearance around the fireplace can cause parts like gaskets, hoses, or electrical wiring insulation to melt or burn slightly.

Check that your fireplace has sufficient airflow and spacing.

If you have a TV near your fireplace, you must know the safest distance between a TV and fireplace so that the overheating of either of these things doesn't cause any problems. 

Faulty Gas Valve or Regulator

A burning plastic stench can also indicate incomplete combustion due to a faulty gas valve or regulator. When gas isn't burning efficiently, it can create excess byproducts with a chemical-like odor resembling burning plastic.

You'll likely need a professional to inspect and repair or replace those components.

Debris or Foreign Objects

Take a look inside the fireplace and check if any debris or odd items have fallen inside unnoticed.

Stray plastic toys, utensils, or even excessive pet hair can create foul smells if heated up during fireplace use. Remove any visible objects before further operation.

Deteriorating Fireplace Parts

Deteriorating Fireplace Parts

Over time, repeated heat exposure can cause plastic fireplace components like gaskets and seals to wear down and deteriorate.

As they start to break down, you may smell that unmistakable burning plastic odor. Hiring a technician to replace aging parts is recommended for safety reasons too.

Identifying the Source of the Smell

Visual Inspection

The first step is to take a close look at your gas fireplace when it's cool and not operating. Carefully inspect all areas, checking for any visible signs of melting, burning, or deterioration on plastic components.

Things like warped or discolored gaskets can be telltale signs of overheating issues.

Component Isolation  

If the visual check doesn't reveal anything obvious, try isolating potential problem areas. When you turn on the fireplace, pay close attention to any components that seem to be emitting odors more strongly than others.

The source could be electrical wiring, the gas valve, venting pipes, or the burner assembly itself. 

When to Call a Professional

If you're unable to pinpoint the source after a thorough inspection, it's wise to call in a certified gas fireplace technician.

They have the expertise to safely disassemble components and identify any hidden issues like cracked heat exchangers that could be the culprit. Don't take chances with a persisting burning smell.

Professional Diagnostic Tools

Experienced techs also utilize special diagnostic equipment to detect combustion issues, gas leaks, or hot spots that may not be visible.

Their tools can accurately measure things like temperatures, gas flow, and combustion levels to get to the root of the problem quickly.

Resolving the Issue

Cleaning and Maintenance

cleaning gas fireplace

If you notice a burning plastic smell from your gas fireplace, it's a concern that should be addressed.

While this smell may be normal for a wood-burning fireplace due to the chimney and fuel source, it's not typical for a gas-powered hearth.

Before taking any action, ensure the gas is turned off, and the unit has fully cooled down. Regular cleaning and maintenance are key to preventing such odors.

Consult your owner's manual for proper techniques to clean the logs, burners, and glass panels of your installed model. A thorough cleaning may be all it takes to eliminate that burnt plastic smell.

Replacing Faulty Components

If you've identified a faulty component like a cracked gas valve or regulator as the likely culprit, replacement is recommended. Attempting DIY repairs on gas line parts can be extremely dangerous.

Schedule a service call with a qualified fireplace technician to ensure the safe and proper installation of new parts.

Improving Ventilation 

Inadequate ventilation causing components to overheat is a common issue. Your technician can assess if adding more venting pipes or making adjustments to airflow and clearance around the fireplace will help. Improving circulation prevents overheating.

Fireplace Renovation

For older units with excessive wear and tear, a full fireplace renovation may be advisable, especially if the smell persists after attempting other fixes.

Replacing the entire firebox, venting system, gas lines, and key components ensures safety and eliminates odors.

Safety Precautions  

If that burning plastic smell is strong and persistent, stop using the fireplace immediately and shut off the gas supply for safety.

Any thick smoke or fumes could indicate a serious hazard. Use caution, keep the area ventilated, and have the unit professionally inspected and repaired before operation.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is it safe to use with a burning smell?

No, it's not safe to operate a gas fireplace that emits strong, persistent burning odors. Shut off the gas supply immediately and discontinue use until the issue is properly diagnosed and resolved by a professional technician.

2. How do I check for a gas leak?  

You can test for gas leaks by brushing a mixture of dish soap and water onto gas line connections and watching for bubbling, which indicates a leak. However, any suspected leaks require an expert to locate and repair the source.

3. Can I replace the parts myself?

For safety reasons, you should never attempt DIY repairs on gas fireplaces or gas line components yourself unless you are a certified/trained professional. Improper installations can lead to hazards like fires, explosions, or carbon monoxide leaks.

4. Will the smell go away on its own?

Temporary odors from new fireplaces may dissipate with use, but any persistent or strong burning smells indicate an issue that needs to be addressed through cleaning, maintenance or professional repair. Don't ignore lingering foul odors.


By addressing the root cause, you can once again enjoy your gas fireplace without that unpleasant burning plastic odor. Whether it's a temporary break-in issue, overheating components, or aging parts - solutions like professional maintenance, part replacements, or renovations can restore safety and ambiance.

Don't ignore persistent foul smells, as they could indicate serious hazards. If basic troubleshooting doesn't resolve the problem, scheduling an inspection with a qualified fireplace technician is strongly recommended. With proper care and maintenance, you can prevent burning plastic smells and ensure many cozy nights by the fire.

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