My house was built in 1933. It had a wood burning fireplace. Now there is a gas line going to it with a control knob. This attatches to a burner with logs on it. The thing is open to the air and they logs have a lot of soot on them. Any suggestions? Should I replace it with and insert?
You have what is commonly called a 'logset' or 'logset burner'. These are totally decorative units and are inefficient as h@ll. As with most open fireplaces, you usually have a net LOSS in heat as alot of warm air is sucked out of the living space and up the chimny. The soot on the logs is usually from flame impingment due to dirty burner/oriface, incorrectly positioned logs, or drafts affecting the flame pattern. They are also not that safe as they have no safety device to shut them down in case of flue blockage, which will cause the products of combustion (read carbon monoxide) to enter the home.
If all you want is the look of an open fire, don't care about efficiency, and only use it occasionally then have it and the chimny checked by a pro and install a good quality CO detector. If you would like a fireplace that will not only look good, but actually heat the space and do it safely then look at installing a sealed combustion direct-vent insert. These units have a sealed glass front and use a co-axial venting system which uses 2 pipes installed in the existing flue to bring in fresh air for combustion and venting exhaust gasses.
If you want a good quality unit, look into the Regency line of gas inserts. They are certified as a heating appliance with efficiencies pushing 85%. There are several door/louver/trim options available to 'customise' the unit to match your decor. Most have an optional variable speed blower as well to help circulate the heat.
Hope this helps. Any more questions, just ask!
(Not Collin) LOL
Where are you? Are you done yet? I got ONE more call for you.....