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Nothing makes a cool night cozier than a warm glow from a hearth. Unlike building and maintaining a wood fire, a propane or natural gas fireplace makes enjoying a fire simple. Achieving a toasty fire is as easy as knowing how to light a gas fireplace. Use this guide to learn how to light a gas fireplace using a wall switch, control panel or fireplace key. Always refer to your unit’s manual for specific instructions. In most cases, you’ll be lighting the pilot light once a year.
Safety Tip: Be very careful during any activities involving gas and fire. If the fireplace fails to ignite and you smell gas, leave the house. Call the fire department.
Preparing to Light a Gas Fireplace
Before you light a gas fireplace, make sure you’re familiar with the unit. Look for the control panel. It is usually around the base of the fireplace behind the decorative fireplace screen. There are several things to consider about how to use a gas fireplace.
- If the system involves opening a gas valve with a fireplace key, use a long match or lighter. When learning how to turn on a gas fireplace without a key, see if the unit has a control panel with an igniter switch.
- If you’re using a fireplace key and your fireplace has a front cover, remove it completely and set it aside to access the burner.
- If the control panel’s pilot knob is not already in “Off” position, turn it off. Wait about five minutes to allow lingering or excess gas to clear out.
Tip: No matter what type of gas fireplace you have, open the chimney vent before starting a fire. This rule also applies to a wood-burning fireplace.
Lighting a Gas Fireplace With a Control Panel
A gas fireplace control panel usually has a red igniter pilot knob and a control dial. The pilot knob should have the options “Off,” “Pilot” and, in some models, “On.” Here’s how to light a gas fireplace with a control panel.
- Turn the knob from the “Off” to the “Pilot” position.
- Push in the pilot knob, which manually sends gas into the system.
- Push the igniter button once every second until it lights. Depending on how long it’s been since the gas fireplace was last used, ignition may take multiple attempts.
- After the pilot lights, keep the pilot button held down about 15 to 30 seconds to warm up the thermocouple and ensure that the flame stays lit. Different units may recommend slightly different durations for how long to hold down the button.
- Release the pilot knob. If the flame stays lit, rotate the knob to the “On” position.
- Adjust the flame to the desired position with the “High/Low” switch or knob, if available.
- Reattach the cover or screen over the control panel.
Tip: Make sure the unit’s emergency gas valve is open. It should have a knob or switch that can be turned on. Turn it to be in line with or parallel to the gas line.
Lighting a Gas Fireplace With a Key Valve
Some types of fireplaces have a round, decorative slot for controlling the gas valve. It's usually located near the fireplace, usually to the immediate left, right or on the floor. You will control the gas flow with a fireplace key (sometimes called a hex key) as you light the fireplace.
- Place a long lighter next to the burner and pull the fuel trigger. (You can also use a lit match.) You may need an assistant if the slot is out of reach from the burner.
- Turn the key in the slot to open the gas valve. You may hear the hiss of gas entering the burner. The pilot should light immediately.
- Replace the key cover.
- Use the key to control the height of the flames.
Tip: Store the key close to the fireplace or in a handy location with the rest of the fireplace accessories.
Using a Wall Switch to Turn On a Gas Fireplace
It’s easy to know how to turn on a gas fireplace with an electronic ignition wall switch. Many gas fireplaces come equipped with a wall switch control panel for activating the unit and adjusting the level of the flame. Simply push the “On” button and the pilot should ignite.
If the flame does not ignite, you may need to ignite the pilot at the fireplace itself using one of the above methods in steps 1through 4. As always, check the unit’s instruction manual for specifics.
Turning Off a Gas Fireplace
Knowing how to light a gas log fireplace means you also know how to turn it off. Even without a fire going, a standing pilot light uses a minor amount of fuel. Knowing how to turn off a gas fireplace valve can reduce your gas bill.
- If the fireplace has a control panel, turn the control knob to “Off.” The emergency gas valve should be closed or turned off as well.
- If the fireplace has a key control, insert the fireplace key in the slot. Turn it until the valve closes and cuts off the gas supply. The pilot will go out.
Now that you know how to light a gas fireplace, you have the skills to enjoy a toasty fire no matter how chilly the weather gets. Whether you need new gas logs or a new gas fireplace, The Home Depot delivers online orders when and where you need them.