How to Light a Gas Fireplace
Time Required: Under 2 hours
Nothing turns a cool night cozy like a warm glow from a hearth, and propane or natural gas fireplaces avoid the hassle of building and maintaining a wood fire. Their greatest challenge can be simply be lighting the pilot light, which may only be necessary once a year. This guide reviews how to light a gas fireplace, whether with a wall switch, control panel or fireplace key.
Safety: Read the owner's manual closely, as some models can have slight differences. Take all precautions with any activities involving flame and gas. If the fireplace fails to ignite and you smell gas, leave the house and call the fire department.
Before you light a gas fireplace, make sure you’re familiar with the unit. If the system involves opening a gas valve with a fireplace key, you’ll probably need a long match or lighter. When learning how to turn on a gas fireplace without a key, confirm that the unit has a control panel with an igniter switch.
- Remove any fireplace decoration that’s in the way. Control panels can usually be found at or around the base of the fireplace, concealed by a decorative screen that should be moved.
- 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 and 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, just as you would with a wood-burning fireplace.
- Confirm that the control panel is accessible.
- Find the pilot knob, which should have the options “Off,” “Pilot” and, in some models, “On.”
- 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 15-30 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 “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, usually by turning to be in line with or parallel to the gas line.
- This type of fireplace has a round, decorative slot for controlling the gas valve. Locate it near the fireplace, usually to the immediate left, right or on the floor.
- Get the matching fireplace key (sometimes a hex key). You should store this either close to the fireplace or a convenient location with the rest of the fireplace accessories.
- 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 cover.
- Use the key to control the height of the flames.
- 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. Check the instruction manual.
After winter has passed, you may not need to use your fireplace for months. 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 and turn it until the valve closes and the pilot goes out, cutting off the gas supply.
Knowing how to light a gas log fireplace is a matter of following the instructions for your hearth products while being as safe as possible.