Gas fireplaces have several benefits: they’re easy to control, efficient at heating, and clean-burning. Every once in a while, however, there will be issues that need to be addressed. Below are some common problems with gas fireplaces and how to fix them:
Why Won’t My Gas Fireplace Start?
There are several issues that might prevent a gas fireplace from igniting. Here are some potential causes:
Old Batteries: Depending on the type of gas fireplace you own, you may have a remote or receiver that run on batteries. If the batteries in either of these are dead, it could prevent your fireplace from igniting. It’s worth testing your batteries to make sure you don’t just need a fresh set
Tripped Circuit Breakers: When the electrical wiring in your house has too much current running through it, circuit breakers “trip,” or cut off the flow of power to prevent the circuit from overheating. Check your breaker box and reset any tripped breakers you come across.
Gas Valves: Make sure that your gas valve is open and in the on position to ensure the flow of gas to your fireplace. This should be located in the firebox. If you have an older model, a key in the wall or floor should be nearby.
Propane Tanks & Natural Gas Lines: If your gas fireplace relies on a propane tank, ensure that it is in the on position and delivering gas; there will be a knob on top of the tank that controls this. If turning the knob to the on position doesn’t open the gas flow, contact your propane supplier. The tank may be exhausted.
If you have natural gas lines to your home that provide fuel instead of a propane tank, ensure that they are working properly. If you suspect that there is an issue with them delivering gas to your home, or you suspect that your gas was shut off, call your utilities company.
Pilot Light: Pilot lights ignite the gas as it is delivered to the fireplace unit. Pilot lights can be blown out by an interrupted flow of gas or from a strong draft. When relighting it, make sure that you follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully. Another common issue with ignition is a dirty pilot light orifice, caused by a buildup of soot and dirt.
If you have successfully re-lit your pilot light, ensured that the orifice is clean, and the fireplace still refuses to ignite, there could be an issue with the thermopile, thermocouple or wiring.
Thermocouple, Thermopile, and Wiring: The thermocouple is a metal probe that controls the gas valve, sensing the temperature and generating electricity to ignite the gas if necessary. Ensure that it is screwed in tightly and in the correct position.
The thermopile, like the thermocouple, is a temperature sensor that generates electric voltage. They are commonly found on newer gas fireplace models in place of a thermocouple. If you have exhausted other solutions and believe you need to test or replace a component like this, make sure the other causes have been ruled out and call a professional to handle it. They will test to ensure your thermocouple or thermopile are working, and fix any loose or inadequate wiring.
Thermostat: Make sure that the thermostat is set properly; often, the issue is that the thermostat is set lower than the temperature in the room. Adjusting this to the correct temperature can sometimes solve the ignition problem.
Why Does My Gas Fireplace Smell?
If your fireplace is new, there may be what is known as “off-gassing,” caused by residual factory paints burning off. This is harmless and should pass after a few fires. If the smell persists, check that your chimney is not obstructed and is cleaned. If you suspect the smell is gas, and the pilot light is on, you may have a gas leak. Shut off the fireplace, ensure your home is vented and call your gas company or a professional technician.
Why Is My Gas Fireplace Making A Noise?
Gas fireplaces will make some noise as part of their normal operation. However, there may be unusual noises caused by external issues.
Rumbling or Roaring Noise: This could be an issue with your pilot light. Adjust the flame to see if this solves the issue. Also ensure that your burners are clean; dirty burners can also cause this kind of sound.
Grinding or Shrieking Noise: This could be an issue with your blower. Call a technician, like High’s Chimney, to determine if it needs a replacement.
Gas Fireplace Soot Abundance
Soot buildup is normal on vented gas logs, but not on vent-free units. In general, propane powered fireplaces will produce more soot than natural gas fireplaces. If you notice excess soot build up, here are a few common culprits.
Improper Airflow: Ensure that there is a proper ratio between the flame’s gas and oxygen; a flame that has too much gas will produce more soot. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to increase oxygen and decrease gas flow. Note that this may cause the flame to appear more blue than orange.
Chimney: Make sure your chimney is clean and clear of obstructions. Common obstructions include bird nests, leaves, twigs and branches. This article discusses obstructions in detail.
Improperly Arranged Firebox: Make sure that the embers and logs in your firebox are arranged correctly and according to manufacturer specifications. If the logs are misplaced, they disrupt the flow of the flames, causing soot to be deposited.
Clogged Burners: Clogged or broken burners can also cause excess soot build up. Ensure that they are clean and in working condition. If you’re not comfortable doing this, a local chimney sweep will be capable of servicing it for you.
Why Is There Moisture/Condensation on the Glass?
When you start your fireplace, you may notice condensation on your glass door as water vapor in the air inside the firebox evaporates. This should dissipate as the fire heats up. There may be some buildup over time of condensation residue, but this is easily wiped away.
Many of these tips and diagnoses for these common gas fireplace problems can be done by yourself. However, if you ever feel like you’re in over your head, or you suspect there is a serious problem like a gas leak, please call a professional to service your unit. If you’re in the DC, Maryland, or Virginia give us a call!