How to Operate Your Gas Fireplace

how to operate your gas fireplace

This step-by-step guide is intended to help homeowners turn their gas fireplaces on for the heating Season. Gas log fireplaces are often turned off during the warmer months, and getting them turned on again for the cold months can be a process. Gas log units are temperamental and require annual servicing, so if you are experiencing any issues, it is best to contact a gas appliance repair person for servicing.

Step 1: Make Sure the Gas Supply is available and turned on.

Is the pilot light on? If the pilot light is on, skip to Burner Instructions.

A. Make sure the Gas Shut-off at the Appliance is turned on

Every gas fireplace should have a gas shut-off valve at the appliance. Often the gas shut-off is turned off for the warmer months. It should be verified that the Gas shut-offs are in the ‘on’ position before attempting to light the pilot. The gas shut-off is typically located behind the gas log fireplace (first picture) or in some cases, on the wall (second picture). There may be additional shut-offs at the exterior wall, tank, or meter.

gas shut off appliance
GAS APPLIANCE SHUT-OFF (Most common type): This is another common type of shut-off. This shut-off is currently in the ‘on’ position. These are usually found behind or under the gas log fireplace. When the handle is parallel with the pipe, it is in the ‘on’ position.
gas shut off appliance with key
GAS APPLIANCE SHUT-OFF (Less common): These gas shut-offs are often found on the wall near the gas fireplace. They require a key to open and close. Arrows indicate the direction to open.

B. Ensure your Metered Gas Service is turned on (Natural Gas):

You likely have a metered service if you pay a monthly gas bill. Metered gas is always on unless the service was recently turned off (failure to pay or recent account change). You can find the main shut-off at the meter. The meter is usually located outside the house (see photo). If the shut-off is in the off position, contact your Gas provider for more information.

gas meter
NATURAL GAS METER: Arrow is pointing to the main shut-off
natural gas meter shut off
NATURAL GAS METER SHUT-OFF: this shut-off is in the ‘off’ position (when holes are aligned, it is off). Sometimes a padlock is used by the provider to keep the service off.

C. Ensure your Propane Tank is turned on and gas is available.

You likely have private propane gas storage if you are responsible for filling your gas tanks. Most on-site gas storage is either buried or above ground. The main shut-off is usually found at the tank, but sometimes an additional valve can be located near the house’s exterior wall. If you cannot find the tank, contact the propane provider- they should have a record of its location. Ask a neighbor, previous owner, or tenant if you do not know the propane provider.

propane gauge
PROPANE GAUGE: This tank is nearly 80% full. Call your propane provider for a refill if the tank is 20% or less. The gauge indicates how full the tank is (percentage) – the gauge does NOT indicate how many gallons or pounds of gas are left.
propane tank shut off
PROPANE TANK SHUT-OFF: This is a typical propane shut-off valve (Clockwise tightens and closes, counterclockwise loosens and opens or ‘lefty loosey, righty tighty’)
additional propane shut off at exterior
ADDITIONAL PROPANE SHUT-OFFS: Are often found on the exterior wall near the fireplace or gas appliance. This valve is in the ‘on’ position (parallel with the gas line).
propane tank
ABOVE GROUND PROPANE TANK (typical 120-gallon tank)
leased propane tank
TANK INFO: Data plates and stickers on the tank will often indicate whether the tank is owned or leased and which company services the tank. Blossman, a local gas provider in the Asheville area, owns this tank.

Step 2: Find the Metal Data Plates (Operating Instructions)

Most newer gas fireplace units have metal data plates with operating instructions. The metal data plates are often located under or near the gas log appliance. The data plates are either adhered to the unit or attached by a chain or wire. Follow the instructions to light the fireplace.

Step 3: Typical Lighting Instructions (Most Models)

Follow the instructions on the metal data plates. The following instructions are typical for most units if the metal data plates cannot be found. The controls for most gas log units are often plainly visible, but sometimes there is a hidden door under the gas log fireplace where the controls are concealed.

A. DO NOT USE A MATCH!

Most gas log units have an automatic ignitor or button. If a match is required, consider upgrading or repairing the unit before using it.

B. FIND THE MAIN CONTROL KNOB

Typically the primary control knob is labeled ‘ON/OFF/PILOT.’

C. CLEAR THE UNIT OF GAS

If the control knob is in the ‘ON’ position, turn it to ‘OFF’ for 5 minutes to clear out any gas. If you still smell gas, turn the gas shut-off to the off position and contact a gas appliance repair person.

gas control knob
In photo: The Control Knob is in the ‘OFF’ position and the Thermostat is on ‘LOW’

D. TURN THE PILOT LIGHT ON

Turn the gas control knob counterclockwise from the OFF position to the ‘IGN’ or ‘PILOT’ position. Be prepared to hold the Control Knob down for several minutes- this can be strenuous for some people. Push the control knob inward for 30 seconds (sometimes, it is necessary to hold the knob for longer to clear the gas lines of air). After 30 seconds, while still pressing the Control Knob, press the ignitor button repeatedly until the pilot light turns on. KEEP PRESSING THE CONTROL KNOB FOR ANOTHER MINUTE AFTER THE PILOT IS LIT!

pilot light on
In the photo: The Control Knob is on ‘PILOT,’ and the Thermostat is on ‘HIGH’- Press Knob down and hold down while pressing the ‘Ignitor’ button.

E. TURN THE CONTROL KNOB TO THE ‘ON’ POSITION

Release the Control Knob. If the pilot light is on and holds steady for 30 seconds or more, turn the gas control knob counterclockwise to the ‘ON’ Position. If the pilot fails, repeat Step 5 and Step 6 until the pilot light holds steady.

F. TURN THE BURNER ON

DANGER! Keep your head away from the gas log unit during this step. Due to dust and neglect, it is typical for burners to fail to ignite correctly. If all the orifices of the burners do not ignite correctly, turn off the unit and contact a gas appliance repair person.

Units with Manual Thermostats

Many burners are turned on with a Manual Thermostat (See photo). Turn the thermostat up to max and wait up to a minute for the flame to turn on. Once the burner turns on, adjust the flame size setting as needed.

thermostat and control knob in one
GAS CONTROL VALVE (1 Knob): Control Knob and Thermostat combined

Units with Remotes, Receivers, and Switches

Some gas log units will have a ‘light switch’ on the wall near the fireplace. If present, turn the switch to the ‘on’ position (see Photo).

Some units have Remotes and Receivers. Receivers are typically located near the gas log unit (see Photo). The receiver can be set to the ‘ON’ position (to the right) and should work manually. Receivers can also be set to the ‘REMOTE’ setting. If the ‘REMOTE’ setting is used, it will be necessary to find the remote and ensure that the batteries are present and adequate.

remote receiver
RECEIVER AND REMOTE: See the ‘OFF/REMOTE/ON’ Positions at the lower left. Replace the remote batteries annually.

KEEPING GAS FIREPLACES ON ‘STAND-BY’ MODE FOR THE WINTER

It is convenient to keep the pilot light ‘ON’ throughout the Winter to prevent repeating this process (the pilot light should be turned off for extended trips).

Units with Manual Thermostats

Turn the thermostat down to minimum or low – the burner should turn off. Another option is to turn the Control Knob to ‘PILOT’.

Units with Remotes or Switches

Use the Remote to turn the fireplace ‘OFF.’ Alternatively, you can set the Receiver to the ‘OFF’ position. Some gas fireplaces will have a switch on the wall that looks like a light switch.

TURNING GAS FIREPLACES OFF FOR THE WARMER MONTHS OR EXTENDED TRIPS

Turn Remotes, Switches, and the Control Knob to the ‘OFF’ position. Turn the gas shut-off valve to the ‘OFF’ position (perpendicular to the gas line).

gas control knob 1
In photo: The Control Knob is in the ‘OFF’ Position

Gas Appliance Inspections in Asheville and WNC

Our Company, Builder Buddy Inspections & Testing, thoroughly evaluates the gas piping and appliances as part of our Home Inspections, Pre-sale Inspections, Commercial Inspections, and Annual Maintenance Inspections.  We carefully inspect gas fireplaces, water heaters, furnaces, exhaust systems, and piping. Dangerous gas leaks and exhaust issues are widespread and can be prevented as part of our Annual Inspection Program. If you are within 40 miles of Asheville, call us today to set up an appointment or schedule here.

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