Use This Troubleshooting Guide To Get Your Gas Fireplace Burning Strong

Whether you want to warm up by the fire on a cold winter night, or you just want to enjoy the warmth of a fire during a brisk fall afternoon, you want your gas fireplace to start the first time, every time.

When you get your gas fireplace going, the room becomes cozier as it creates a soothing glow and comforting warmth. It’s a great way to unwind after a stressful day or set the tone for a relaxing evening at home with family and friends.

But if you find your gas fireplace struggling to stay lit the first time you power it on, you may be left scratching your head. Dialing a professional gas fireplace repair company to come out and take a look is the first course of action.

But what should you do between the first call and when the repair technician rings your doorbell?

Fortunately, you can do a few things to expedite the repair process and point the repairman in the right direction. Let’s look at some DIY tips you can try when your gas fireplace won’t stay on and some common reasons why the flame in your fireplace keeps flickering off.

What To Look For When Your Gas Fireplace Keeps Going Out

When your gas fireplace just won’t stay on, you must get to the bottom of the issue before permanent damage puts it out of commission. There could be various problems ranging from an easy fix to highly needed repairs.

You’ve probably already scheduled a service call with a gas fireplace repair technician, so now it’s time to investigate to see if you can get to the root of the problem.

Use your unit’s manufacturer’s instructions to locate these specific components of your gas fireplace. Always ensure the unit is cool to the touch before troubleshooting, and the fireplace is off to prevent serious injury.

Here’s where to look and what to look for when your gas fireplace doesn’t stay lit.

Check The… What It Does  Something Is Wrong If….
Pilot Light The pilot flame burns continuously to make it easy to light your fireplace.
  • The pilot flame is flickering.
  • The pilot light is out.
  • You notice damage to the pilot assembly, pilot tubing, or other components.
Firebox This sealed unit with a glass door contains your fire logs and ignition system.
  • The glass door has a white film build-up of carbon deposits.
  • The gas logs are out of place.
Thermostat The unit outside of your fireplace that ignites the flame when the temperature drops below a certain threshold.
  • The thermostat is set lower than the current room temperature.
  • The thermostat is higher than the current room temperature, but the unit won’t stay on.
Thermopile/ Thermocouple When it senses heat, the thermocouple or thermopile generates an electrical voltage that ignites the flame.
  • The component looks loose or out of place.
  • A multimeter reads under 300 millivolts.
Gas Valve This component controls the gas flow from your propane tank or gas supply into your gas fireplace.
  • The gas valve is loose.
  • The gas valve is turned to open, but the unit doesn’t light.
Gas Line A gas line is the path the natural gas travels to get into your home from the main gas line and fuel your gas appliances.
  • The gas line is bent or damaged.
  • The gas line is in good condition, but no gas enters your unit.

Always be cautious when working with your gas fireplace. Remember, as you troubleshoot why your gas fireplace will not light, be mindful of hazardous gas leaks. If you smell a strange rotten egg odor, evacuate your home and call your gas company.

Gas leaks can cause various issues, such as carbon monoxide poisoning, house fires, and natural gas poisoning if you have a slow leak over time.

Common Reasons Why Your Gas Fireplace Won’t Stay Lit

Now that you’ve done a once-over of your gas fireplace, it’s time to figure out why it won’t stay lit. This will help point the gas fireplace service technician in the right direction to have your unit up and to run quickly.

Let’s examine some of the most common reasons your gas fireplace won’t stay on.

1. Pilot Light Issues

The issue that’s easiest to identify is any problem with your pilot light. It should look like a strong, blue flame that shoots sideways directly onto your thermopile or thermocouple sensors.

A weak or flickering pilot flame could indicate a variety of issues, so be sure to mention to your repair technician that your pilot light looks off.

If your pilot light looks more like a yellow candle flame than a blue blow torch flame, it will not allow your sensors to function correctly.

If your pilot light is out, your fireplace will not turn on. Using the reset button, see if you can easily restart the flame.

Of course, there are ways to safely light a gas fireplace, but until you know exactly what’s wrong with your pilot flame, it’s best to wait for a professional to do this.

2. Faulty Thermopile/Thermocouple

If your pilot light is strong, but the fireplace still won’t stay lit, you could have a malfunctioning thermopile or thermocouple. This component converts heat into electricity to open the gas valve when you hit the wall switch or remote control to turn on your unit.

These small fireplace pieces are susceptible to a build-up of carbon deposits over time and should be cleaned regularly during your routine fireplace maintenance.

Using fine-grit sandpaper, gently sand the build-up away. Be sure to clean up any debris that falls off these pieces to prevent it from causing other issues in your unit.

Once you’ve finished cleaning, try to turn your gas fireplace on to see if this solves your problem. If not, you may have a faulty thermopile or thermocouple that needs to be replaced.

Always have a professional replace these delicate pieces to ensure your gas fireplace functions correctly and safely every time.

3. Faulty Gas Valve

With age comes wear and tear, so pieces of your ignition system, like your gas valve, may not work as expected. It could feel loose or not control the gas supply as it should.

If you own an older gas fireplace, it’s possible that the gas valve has worn out and needs replacing. This is best left to a professional, as there is a large margin for error that could lead to more significant issues or even gas leaks if not done properly.

4. Inadequate Gas Pressure

As the seasons change from warm to cool to freezing cold, it’s possible that the gas pressure from your propane tank or natural gas line drops. The input pressure should be between 5.5” w.c. and 10.5” w.c. to allow your gas fireplace to burn correctly.

Your fireplace will struggle to stay lit and die out quickly without the correct pressure. Adjusting the gas pressure is a simple fix, but it should be left to a professional to avoid dangerous gas leaks from the main line and to ensure no faulty parts prevent your fireplace from staying on.

5. Blocked Or Clogged Burner Ports

Many homeowners choose gas fireplaces because they are easier to maintain than a wood-burning fireplace.

While they don’t need to be cleaned often, failing to clean your gas fireplaces could cause the burner ports to become clogged or blocked, preventing them from staying lit.

Even worse, dangerous burner blocks can cause a host of issues in your home, including an increased risk of a house fire or permanent damage to your gas fireplace.

Follow these steps to properly clean your burner ports as part of your routine gas fireplace maintenance :

  • Turn off the pilot light and burner.
  • Shut off the gas flow.
  • If needed, wait 2-3 hours for the unit to cool completely.
  • Move the gas logs or glass carefully to expose the burner ports.
  • Use a handheld vacuum to clean any soot or debris from the burner.
  • Use a soft toothbrush to scrub debris from the burner ports.
  • Clean any additional debris you’ve removed from the area.
  • Carefully replace the logs or glass.
  • Turn on the gas flow, reset the pilot light, and light the burner to see if this has solved your problem.

Regularly cleaning your gas fireplace will ensure it stays in optimal form. You should schedule regular maintenance with fireplace service professionals to keep your gas fireplace lit all season long.

Enlist The Experts To Get Your Gas Fireplace Burning Bright

When your gas fireplace just won’t stay on, don’t DIY the solution. Call in the experts to get your unit up and running fast.

R & T Services has over 30 years of experience helping the residents of Billings, MT, maintain their heating and cooling units. We can handle everything from HVAC services to gas fireplace installation and troubleshooting. Our technicians receive continuous training to ensure they can spot the problem right away and solve it fast.

Contact us today to get your gas fireplace burning bright with a free quote and expert services.