Gas Fireplace Won’t Stay Lit
DIY Tips If Your Gas Fireplace Won’t Stay Lit or Doesn’t Light at All
If your gas fireplace won’t stay lit, there are a few things you can try to do yourself before calling a professional fireplace repair company.
PRO TIP: Any attempts to service your own gas fireplace you do at your own risk – and the risk of your family, pets, and property. Sometimes it’s better to just hire a professional. In my opinion, this is one of those things!
Gas fireplaces, furnaces, and other combustion appliances are safe when professionally installed and maintained. Done improperly, the risk of gas leaks, explosions, fire, and carbon monoxide poisoning are very real.
If you live in the Phoenix, AZ Metro area or anywhere within a 35-mile radius of Magic Touch Mechanical’s main offices in Mesa, Arizona – just call us for gas fireplace service. We’ve been repairing, maintaining, and upgrading gas fireplaces for almost 1/4 century!
Check out a recent Modern Gas Fireplace Project completed by Magic Touch Mechanical fireplace technicians.
My Gas Fireplace Won’t Stay Lit!
If you’re reading this article, it’s safe to assume your gas fireplace either won’t stay lit, or won’t light at all. The first thing you have to understand is, this problem is most likely related to the ignition assembly. Depending on the fireplace model, the ignition assembly usually consists of the pilot light assembly, pilot tubing, thermocouple & thermopile.
Is Your Pilot Light Lit?
Nothing irks me more than when I call my internet service provider to report an outage and they ask me if my modem is plugged in. That said, you know there’s a reason they have to ask that right? You know there is a percentage of people that probably say; “Oops never mind.”
So, have you checked to see if your pilot light is lit? If not, relight the pilot by following the instructions on your hearth or in your user manual.
Again, I hate to say it but… is your gas even turned on? We see a few a year where the gas isn’t on or the propane tank is empty!
PRO TIP: If you do not know how to light a pilot light, you probably really need to call a pro rather than reading on. I’m not trying to be mean – I’m trying to advise you to stay safe!
If you lit your pilot light and everything appears to be functioning normally now, you are good to go! However, consider calling a pro to perform maintenance and cleaning of your fireplace. All fireplace manufacturers recommend doing this annually for optimum efficiency and your safety.
My Fireplace Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit
If the pilot light on your gas fireplace won’t stay lit, a very likely culprit is a component called a thermocouple. A thermocouple is a safety device and is a component of the ignition system. Its purpose is to not allow the gas valve to open if the pilot light isn’t lit. Without this device, your gas valve could allow gas to leak into your home…enough said right?
The thermocouple is a metal rod that sticks out right in front of the pilot itself. It senses if flame is present or not. If the pilot light is lit, it heats up the thermocouple. This opens the gas valve and allows gas to enter the burner ports…and voila, fire!
You’re still reading so I guess there was no “voila” for you.
Try Cleaning Off Your Thermocouple if Your Pilot Light Won’t Stay Lit
It’s not unusual for the thermocouple to collect carbon deposit buildup after a season of use. After all, your thermocouple is sitting in direct flame its whole life.
If after inspection you determine there is a carbon buildup on it, try cleaning it off. The best way to do this is with a strip of fine grit sandpaper. Lightly rub it back and forth until it appears to shine again. Often, you’ll find that’s enough to fix a fireplace that won’t stay lit.
If that doesn’t work, the technician in me wants to recommend you call a pro. While it’s neither expensive or difficult to replace a thermocouple, it’s not an expensive repair from a fireplace contractor either. Difference being, the contractor can test all the other components and even clean it for you while he’s there.
What’s the Difference Between a Thermocouple and Thermopile?
Overall, a thermocouple and thermopile are the same thing. Both use the energy derived from heat to convert it to electricity. A thermopile is simply a series of thermocouples bundled together. As a result, a thermopile generates more electrical current than a thermocouple.
A thermopile can be used to power a thermostat in some appliances. However, a thermocouple does not provide enough electricity to do so.
Other Reasons a Gas Fireplace Won’t Stay Lit
As with any heating appliance, there are a number of reasons why a gas fireplace won’t stay lit. Although typically the ignition system is the issue, here are some other common issues:
- Incorrect Gas Pressure– Fireplace technicians use a tool called a manometer to measure the gas flow through the gas valve. When the gas pressure is not set properly, the fireplace will not stay lit. If it’s just out of adjustment, the technician can get it back in calibration. If you own a manometer and know how to use it, you can do this easily yourself. I assume people reading this article do not – which is why I lead with having a fireplace technician do it.
- Faulty Gas Valve– After ignition system components, a faulty gas valve is the next most common component failure we see in gas fireplaces. While gas valves typically last the life of a fireplace, they are a functional component and subject to fail. There’s way too much at risk to suggest a layperson mess with a gas valve replacement – so I won’t. It’s deinitely time to call a fireplace service company if your gas valve is broken – period!
- Clogged / Dirty Burner Ports– Usually, clogged burner ports will cause your gas fireplace to have uneven flame distribution. More often than not the hearth will perform poorly, not fail to stay lit. However, in my thirty years as a fireplace technician, I have seen it happen.
- Faulty Flux Capacitor – The flux capacitor plays a critical role in… There’s no such component as a flux capacitor in a gas fireplace. However, I’m happy to see someone is still reading this article!
Gas Fireplace Cleaning
You can clean your burner ports yourself with care and attention to detail. Do not use chemicals or water! I recommend using a soft bristle brush, rags and a toothbrush to get the job done.
PRO TIP: Never use anything to poke or drill out burner ports!
PRO TIP: It’s very important to replace the gas logs in the same location you removed them. Gas log sets are strategically designed and placed for proper flame distribution, heating, and operation.
You may find it’s very dusty in the components cabinet of your fireplace. This is pretty common even after just one season of use. Some disposable rags, a feather duster, and a good wet/dry vacuum should do the trick. Be very careful not to disturb any of the wiring and even more so, any of the gas tubing – move slowly and methodically.
Fireplace Glass Cleaning
When it comes to fireplace glass cleaning, things can get a little tricky. With the many styles and types of gas fireplaces and inserts, procedures for removing the glass vary widely. Breaking that glass can lead to expensive repairs, and in some cases parts may no longer be available. For that reason, I highly recommend hiring a professional for fireplace glass cleaning. Certainly I’ve explained how to do much more complicated things than glass cleaning in this article, why not just explain this one?
Frankly, the answer is; I’ve seen homeowners accidentally break their fireplace glass before. It’s hard to watch when they realize how much it will cost to repair vs. what they would’ve paid a professional to clean it. Whether you repair your own fireplace or not, you should have it inspected and serviced professionally annually. It’s not very expensive to add glass cleaning to keep your fireplace looking its best. Plus, you won’t have to worry about how to disassemble and reassemble the fireplace.
Fireplace Service Near Mesa, AZ
If after reading this article you still need a professional fireplace service company, I hope you’ll call us. Magic Touch Mechanical provides maintenance, repairs, and upgrades to gas fireplaces and fire pits. We service the entire Phoenix-Metro area and surrounding cities.
If you live outside of Magic Touch’s service area, there’s a few good places to find a good fireplace service company.
- Angie’s List – Angie’s List is now free to search. Tip: Search the “gas logs” category for more local consumer reviews.
- Better Business Bureau – The BBB is a good place to see what other people have to say about their experience with fireplace service companies.
- Google – The almighty Google knows everything about everyone it seems. Start by searching fireplace service company near me.
If you found this article useful, please do me a favor and share it on social media. Even better, leave us a Google Review so other people find it too!
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