Several really stupid newbie questions about gas fireplaces
So we move to this place and it has two fireplaces: one gas, one wood burning. In the massive crunch of the move, and then some seriously whacky life issues that started in the first few weeks after the move (and that continued for a year and a half), we got distracted and never asked 'how do we operate this gas thing?" (Insert jokes here.)
So last year we used the wood fireplace and ignored the other one.
This past summer, I was cleaning the rarely used room with the gas fireplace and noticed a hot draft while vacuuming around the hearth. Looked up into the fireplace and realized that it had a partially opened flue that would not completely close! (Insert confusion here.)
Are flues for gas fireplaces different? The 'flap' on the flue has some sort of metal bolt thing that is in the way of it completely closing. Is this normal? Is it meant to be always cracked open a bit?
We've never used this thing and I have to admit, I don't know how to use it. It has a metal 'key' to turn it on. I see a pilot light at the base that is operating. It has fake logs and decorative 'pebbles' of some sort. And a pull back screen, like a wood fireplace (which is sort of bizarre because it's fake, so why would it need something to block sparks?)
Since I don't know the first thing about gas, could someone give me an idiot primer on how to do this? Do we just turn the key up with the flue completely open? Or are there other precautions, things to think about?
And if when we are not using it, and IF the flue thing is normal, is it safe to obtain and use some sort of glass screen to block the draft? (Would that mean blocking the fireplace but opening the flue more, or is having it cracked like that, enought?) That room has a tendency to be warm in the summer and colder in the winter, and with heating/cooling costs so high, I'd like to figure out some way to deal with it.
And IF it is acceptable to block the thing with a glass screen, anyone know who sells them short and wide? The fireplace opening is rectangular, but the way that they designed the brick, you either have to have something like 27 inches tall and 45 inches wide, or find something huge to covered the entire decorative brick that is in an arch at the top.
And how often do these things need to be serviced and what does that entail?
Sorry for sounding like such a fool, but I'm not even sure where to start.
Btw, this home is about seven years old.