The Ultimate Guide to Operating a Gas Fireplace

Having a gas fireplace at home is a great boon for most households – it provides warmth, it’s a gorgeous living room décor, and it can even operate during a power outage. It can also be tricky to use, however, especially if you haven’t had a gas fireplace before. So, knowing how to operate a gas fireplace is very important for every novice as well as for more experienced users who might still be doing some things incorrectly.

So, below we’ll go over the key points about lighting different gas fireplaces and maintaining them safely and efficiently.

Are there different types of gas fireplaces?

Depending on the gas they use, gas fireplaces are available for use with either natural-gas or liquid-propane (LP). Both types are very effective and efficient and provide warmth and comfort with very little hassle.

Gas fireplaces can also come with or without remote controls but that doesn’t have a significant effect on how they function. Gas fireplaces with no remote control have rocker-style switches behind the lower grill that ignite the pilot lights.

Different models of gas fireplaces work differently in the event of a power outage. The electronic ignitions of most fireplaces that operate the blower and the flame height won’t function without electricity but most pilot lights will remain lit and produce heat even if the electric power has stopped for a while.

How to turn on a gas fireplace with a control panel

A lot of gas fireplace models are meant to be controlled via a control panel. Needless to say, before you do anything you should familiarize yourself with every word in the user manual. From there, however, the steps you should follow are pretty straight-forward:

  1. Open the fireplace’s control panel. The control panel of most models is typically hidden behind the front screen of the fireplace for aesthetics’ sake. Simply tug it off and you’ll expose the control panel.
  2. Turn the control knob to the Off position for at least 5 minutes to allow for any lingering gas to clear. If you smell a little gas in the air, open the windows and doors of your home. If the smell of gas is easily noticeable, exit the premises immediately and call your gas or propane provider.
  3. After 5 minutes, turn the shutoff valve – if there is one – so that it allows the fuel to enter the fireplace. This usually means the switch needs to be turned parallel with the gas line.
  4. Turn the control know from the Off position to the Pilot position. This will turn the pilot light on, i.e. the small flame that makes the fireplace burn.
  5. Press the control knob and the ignition switch to ignite the pilot light. Hold the control know for ~30 seconds so that the thermocouple heats up.
  6. Move the control knob to the On position.

How to turn on a gas fireplace with a fireplace key

Lighting a gas fireplace with a fireplace key is also simple but it should also start with reading every word of the user’s manual. After that you should simply follow these steps:

  1. Remove the outer cover of the fireplace. This is the glass cover of the entire fireplace and it’s usually easy to pull off the device.
  2. Locate the gas valve knob on the side of the gas fireplace and put the fireplace key in it. Once the key is in, don’t turn it on until you’ve prepared your lighter – you don’t want to release any gas before you’re ready.
  3. Hold the fireplace lighter up to the burner and ignite it. Turn the gas key after that and be prepared to remove the lighter as soon as the pilot light ignites. It’s smart to use rubber gloves for protection while doing this.
  4. Put back the fireplace cover immediately as you need to isolate the fireplace from the rest of your home.

Safety tips

While most gas fireplaces are designed to be as safe as possible, you’ll still be “playing with fire” when using them so exercising caution is very much advised. Here are some basic tips you’ll want to keep in mind when installing and operating your gas fireplace:

  • The installation and maintenance of a gas fireplace are best done by a licensed gas fitter, plumber, or contractor. Most states even have laws about this so make sure you familiarize yourself with them.
  • Install the gas fireplace away from any curtains, furniture, and carpets.
  • Be extra safe with kids and pets around the fireplace when it’s working.
  • Always check every component of the system before turning it on. This is even more important if you have kids or pets as they can tinker with the fireplace when it’s turned off.
  • Always keep the fireplace’s cover on not only as protection from the fire but from the gas as well.
  • Clean your burner plate regularly to remove carbon residue.
  • Pay extra attention to the thermocouple – the safety device that stops the gas flow when the pilot light shuts off. Replace it if the pilot light won’t stay lit.
  • Hire a professional whenever you’re stuck or unsure of any step of the process. It’s better to pay for a professional’s visit even if it’s for something simple than to pay for a new home after yours burns down.

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