How to Light a Gas Fireplace Pilot Light

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The joy of having a gas fireplace comes from not having to find dry wood, haul it home and chop it up. It's a quick way to bring a warm feeling to any room or living room.

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Most gas fireplaces have a standing pilot light, which is a small flame that burns even when you aren't using the fireplace. This makes the fireplace easy to start when it's cold outside, but during the warm seasons when you aren't using the fireplace, it's a good idea to shut off the pilot to conserve gas. If you do, you have to restart it at the beginning of the next cold season. The procedure isn't exactly the same for all models, but the basic process is similar for most. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions for lighting the pilot on your specific model.

Turning On the Gas Supply

Remove the decorative cover of the fireplace to reveal the gas controls at the bottom of the unit, near the floor. You should see a gas shut-off valve. Turn the handle parallel to the direction of the gas pipes to turn on the gas. If you don't see the valve, it is probably behind the fireplace. Look for it there and turn it on. Pull the fixed glass assembly off of the fireplace, if yours has one. This is an important safety precaution that prevents the buildup of gas should the pilot be hard to light.

Note:​ If your fireplace has a secondary gas shutoff, make sure it is all the way open. These valves are typically located outside the fireplace (to the side or on the floor) and are operated with a special key.

Lighting the Pilot

Locate the gas control knob, which should have settings for "Pilot," "On," and "Off." Look around for a red or black button; this is the piezoelectric spark igniter. Press the button a few times to verify that there it creates a spark at the end of the pilot tube. This spark will ignite the pilot flame.

Turn the gas control knob until the "Pilot" setting lines up with the arrow or hash mark on the outer rim of the control. Press and hold down the gas control knob, then press the igniter button multiple times, as needed, until the pilot flame ignites. Once the pilot lights, keep holding down the gas control knob for 20 to 30 seconds to allow time for heating up the thermocouple (a safety device), then release the knob so it pops back up. If the pilot doesn't light, release the gas control knob so it pops back up and stops the flow of gas. Wait 10 seconds, then repeat the lighting process until the pilot starts.

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Turn the gas control knob to the "On" position, then replace the fixed glass assembly and the decorative cover.

Keep in Mind

If the fireplace is new or the pilot hasn't been lighted for a long time, there might be air in the pilot tube. This makes it hard to light, but it should come on after repeated attempts. If you find that you need to frequently light the pilot, the pilot tube may be blocked with debris so be sure to clean the end of the tube with a pin.

If the pilot is particularly hard to start, and you begin to smell gas, stop and wait for the gas to disperse before trying again. Lighting it while there's a strong gas smell could be dangerous so try ventilating the area for a little bit before trying to light the pilot again.

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references

Chris Deziel is a contractor, builder and general fix-it pro who has been active in the construction trades for 40 years. He has degrees in science and humanities and years of teaching experience. An avid craftsman and musician, Deziel began writing on home improvement topics in 2010. He worked as an expert consultant with eHow Now and Pro Referral -- a Home Depot site. A DIYer by nature, Deziel regularly shares tips and tricks for a better home and garden at Hunker and Family Handyman.