A Comprehensive Guide To Help You Pinpoint Why Your Gas Fireplace Won’t Light

There’s nothing more soothing than cozying up to the warmth and comfort of a gas fireplace on a cold winter night. They are a staple in many Billings homes since they form a secondary heat source and instantly make any room feel more welcoming.

Many homeowners prefer a gas unit to a wood-burning fireplace because it burns cleaner, eliminating the need for a chimney sweep. Also, gas fireplace maintenance is much less labor-intensive, allowing homeowners more time to do the things they love.

But when homeowners go to turn on their gas fireplace and nothing happens, it could leave even the handiest homeowner scratching their head.

With the cold winter months fast approaching, you must get to the bottom of the issues and pinpoint exactly why your gas fireplace won’t light.

If your fireplace won’t light, has a low flame, or isn’t working as it should, that means there is a more significant issue.

Ignoring a malfunctioning gas fireplace could lead to many problems, including gas leaks, fire hazards, and permanent damage that can result in costly repairs or the need for a whole new unit.

What Should I Do If My Gas Fireplace Won’t Turn On?

Even with regular annual fireplace maintenance, there may be times when you go to fire up your gas fireplace to create a cozy ambiance only to find it just won’t turn on.

The best action is to contact a professional fireplace service company to inspect and diagnose your gas fireplace issues. These service calls are essential for getting to the bottom of your problem and getting your gas fireplace functioning once again.

The good news is there are some things you can do before they arrive to ensure they can quickly and efficiently get your fireplace in working order.

Let’s look at where you can look when troubleshooting the problem, some common reasons why your gas fireplace isn’t lighting, and what to do to get your unit up and running again.

Where Should I Look For When Troubleshooting Gas Fireplace Problems?

When your gas fireplace doesn’t turn on, it can be hard to communicate precisely what’s wrong with your repair person. To streamline the repair process, there are several places you can look to see where the problem lies.

Consult your unit’s manufacturer’s instructions to find where these components are located in your specific gas fireplace model. Always check to make sure the glass door of your fireplace is cold to the touch.

Use these troubleshooting tips to check each component of your gas fireplace to see the possible cause of why it suddenly won’t turn on.

Look At The…. Signs Of An Issue…
Ignition System/Pilot Light
  • Pilot Flame Is Off
  • Low Flame Height
  • Build-Up Of Soot
  • No Gas Flow
Fire Box
  • Gas Logs Creating A Blockage
  • Clogged Blower
  • Strong Downdraft
  • White Soot Buildup
Circut Breaker
  • Circut Breaker Is Tripped
  • Circut Breaker Is Not Tripped, But Ignition System Still Won’t Turn On
  • Lack Of Power Supply
Fireplace Gas Valve
  • Gas Valve Turned To Off
  • Gas Valve On But No Gas Flow
Thermocouple (older units)

Thermopile (newer units)

  • Thermostat Is On Correct Temperature, But Unit Won’t Turn On
  • Thermocouple/Thermopile Is Loose Or In Wrong Position
Propane Tank or Gas Line
  • Gas Line Is Closed
  • Gas Line Is Open, But Not Gas Flowing Into Unit* (*Contact Your Natural Gas Provider If This Is The Case)

Never light a gas fireplace if you suspect an issue with the gas line. If you smell a strange, rotten egg odor, evacuate your home and contact your gas company immediately.

This is a sign of a hazardous gas leak that could lead to house fires, carbon monoxide poisoning, and other situations that risk your family and home. Here are some typical reasons why your gas fireplace won’t turn on.

Common Reasons Why Your Gas Fireplace Isn’t Working

Homeowners can make the repair process quicker by troubleshooting possible issues. When the gas fireplace repair technician arrives, they can communicate their findings. This will help guide the technician to where the issue is and help them repair the fireplace promptly.

But finding where to start could be a challenge, especially if you aren’t fluent in fireplace terminology.

When troubleshooting gas fireplace problems, always follow the manufacturer’s instruction manual to ensure you can quickly locate each component and understand how to handle it properly.

Let’s look at the most common gas fireplace issues that prevent your unit from functioning correctly.

1. Closed/Malfunctioning Gas Valves

Inside the firebox, you’ll find a gas valve that controls the gas flow to your unit. It allows gas to fill your fireplace when in use and prevents the gas supply from leaking into your home when it’s not being used.

If you find the valve closed, your fireplace cannot heat up and ignite. If the valve is opened and there is still no flame, you could have a faulty valve that needs replacing.

2. Thermostat Problems

Many homeowners use their gas fireplace as a secondary heat source. So if the thermostat is set lower than the actual room temperature, the fireplace will not turn on.

Look at your thermostat settings and adjust it to a higher temperature to see if that does the trick. If this doesn’t work, it could mean your thermostat needs to be replaced because the temperature sensor isn’t reading the room temperature correctly.

3. Electrical Issues/Old Batteries

First, identify whether your unit uses battery power or a wall switch to power on. Some gas fireplaces are operated by a switch built into your wall, while others ignite with remote control.

If you find that your gas fireplace uses batteries, test the ones in your remote to see if they need to be replaced.

If your electronic ignition doesn’t work,  you could be facing an issue with your gas fireplace’s electrical supply or wiring.

4. Blown-Out Pilot Light

If your pilot light blows out due to an interruption in the gas supply or an increased airflow, your gas fireplace will be unable to heat your home.

You’ll be able to see if the pilot light is on or off by simply looking into your unit’s firebox. Be sure to maintain a safe distance to avoid burns. While looking, take a look at the pilot tubing to see if it’s damaged or kinked, which will affect your unit’s gas flow and prevent it from turning on.

You may be comfortable doing a DIY relight of your standing pilot light, but you should wait for your fireplace repair technician to rule out any other issues that could lead to hazardous conditions.

5. Gas Line/Propane Tank Issues

Problems with your propane tank or gas line could cause your gas fireplace issues. These are best handled by a professional, but you can do some investigating to get to the root of the problem.

First, check your other gas appliances to see if they are working. This can be the first sign of a gas supply issue.

If your home utilizes a propane tank, check it to see if there are any noticeable issues. Look for loose hook-ups and confirm the knob is turned to the “on” position.

If you use natural gas supplied by a utility company, you can look around to see if any lines are exposed or damaged, but never dig up gas lines without a professional present. Check the knobs on your unit to ensure the gas is turned on.

A strange rotten egg smell always means gas is leaking into your home. You must evacuate and call the gas company to report a leak.

6. Thermocouple/Thermopile Problems

While the terms sound complicated, locating and inspecting your thermocouple or thermopile isn’t too challenging for the average homeowner.

A thermocouple is a small metal probe that controls the gas valve to your gas fireplace. Its purpose is to check the surrounding area’s temperature and ignite the gas as needed. Once you locate it, double-check to ensure it’s tightened and pointed in the right direction.

A thermopile is very similar to a thermocouple, as it acts as a temperature sensor for your gas fireplace. However, it is connected to the electrical voltage of your fireplace rather than the gas line, so it’s best to leave this to the professionals.

Repair Your Gas Fireplace Today

When your fireplace doesn’t turn on, you need to immediately call the gas fireplace repair professionals to avoid permanent damage to your unit.

It’s always important to schedule routine fireplace maintenance to avoid being caught off guard in the cold winter months.

The fireplace professionals at R & T Services know how important a gas fireplace is to a Billings, MT homeowner. We take pride in our in-depth knowledge and high-quality services.

Contact us today to schedule a service call to get your gas fireplace up and running in no time.