A fireplace provides warmth and comfort for the family. The use of glass doors in the fireplace not only adds increased visual appeal to the home; doors also increase the functionality and efficiency of the fireplace.
Fireplace glass offers protection against drafts and the ash, coals, and soot that are formed during a fire. Having glass doors can prevent ash being blown out into your space or a hot coal rolling out of the firebox at night and setting fire to the house.
Just like other appliances in your home, your fireplace glass needs to be cared for, maintained, and sometimes replaced. Oftentimes, waiting too long to replace the doors means dealing with shattered glass. If the glass shatters at night while you’re asleep, hot coals could roll out of the firebox posing a fire hazard.
Let’s look at some signs that it’s time to replace those fireplace glass doors and some tips for how to maintain your new ones.
1. Scratches in the glass
If your glass has scratches, that’s an early sign that you may want to replace the doors. Small scratches occur naturally over time, but large scratches are a serious eyesore.
The real safety issue here, however, is that lines that appear to be scratches can actually be small cracks in the glass. Examine any scratches carefully to be sure that they are scratches and not small cracks. Cracks can lead to the doors shattering at random, which can pose a serious safety issue.
2. Cracks in the fireplace glass
If your fireplace glass is cracked, your glass should be replaced immediately. Cracks weaken the structure of the glass and significantly reduce the efficiency and protection the glass doors offer.
Be very careful handling cracked glass doors. It takes very little effort to shatter the glass since the structure is already weakened.
3. Discoloration and build-up of soot
All tempered glass doors must be left open while the fire is burning. A consistent cleaning schedule will prevent the build up of ash or soot on your doors.
If you have tempered glass doors that are charred or soot stained, this is a sign that they have been left closed while the firebox is burning. This continual misuse of the doors has weakened the structure of the glass significantly. Blackened tempered glass doors should be replaced immediately. It is only a matter of time before one of your glass panels shatters.
If you have ceramic glass doors that can be left shut while there is a fire in the firebox, discoloration of the glass is unavoidable. The stains do not necessarily indicate a weakening of the glass structure, but it will make it more difficult to see the fire and reduce the visual appeal of your doors.
Cleaning your glass frequently can help to mitigate these stains, but at some point you may consider buying new glass to refresh the look of your doors.
4. Lifespan of the doors
Fireplace glass is easy to maintain and very durable, but it’s not made to last forever. Fireplace glass that is frequently used should be generally considered a one-generation product. If you’ve inherited a home with fireplace doors for your parents, or if you’ve just bought a home and you don’t know how old the fireplace doors are, you should at least consider getting new doors.
First, fireplace glass is not meant to last forever. Replacing the glass proactively makes it unlikely you’ll have to deal with the hassle of broken glass.
Just waiting until one of the glass panes breaks means you’ll get the full lifespan out of your doors, but at what cost? The glass could break at any time and at this point is likely weak from years and years of use. This is a huge safety hazard to you, your home, and your family and guests.
Q: Should I replace the entire door set or just one pane of glass.
A: Check out this article for a complete answer to the question. However, as a summary, if you have tempered glass doors, it’s probably a good idea to replace the whole door set. Most tempered glass panels are hard to replace, and a new pane of glass will make the others look shabby in comparison.
If you have ceramic glass doors, you may be better off replacing just one panel. Ceramic glass doors are incredibly expensive so if you have a quality door set just getting the glass is probably the right way to go.
However, some doors are almost impossible to install new glass into. Many doors seal the glass using a silicon adhesive strip that makes it hard to install new glass. Especially with ceramic glass, this can be a dangerous project to do yourself. Try contacting a local glass professional for help.
Q: How can I maintain my fireplace glass for a longer lifespan?
A: Check out this infographic and these quick tips.
- Clean the fireplace. Burning in your firebox leaves coal, ash, and soot. These are the substances that discolor the glass over time. Periodically cleaning the firebox not only increases it’s visual appeal but acts as a preventative method to stains.
- Clean the fireplace glass too. A simple dishwashing solution and a microfiber cloth keeps the glass shining with minimal effort.
- Get rid of soot build up using a vinegar solution. Spritz the mixture on the glass and leave it for about a minute. Remove the solution with a microfiber cloth using a circular motion. Repeat this process until there is no soot left on the glass.
- Keep the area around the glass doors clear. Bumping into a hard object shouldn’t crack your glass, but it may scratch the glass. Keeping the area around the firebox clear can prevent scratches to preserve the beautiful appearance of your glass.