When the power is out and heat is an issue, a gas fireplace is a lucky thing to have. The fire can still catch if there is no electricity coming in to your gas fireplace. Be prepared to light up your space and be on the receiving end of warmth if you know how the unit works and how to get the spark ignited. The loss of power doesn't have to mean the loss of heat if you have a gas fireplace.
Know Your Place
Traditionally, gas fireplaces have been manufactured with a standing pilot light that ignites the flames without the use of external electricity. Gas fireplaces that are more recent have an electronic ignition system that needs a spark of electricity to bring the appliance to life with a crackling fire. If you have a newer model, you can buy a backup, battery-powered igniter to fill your space with heat and light when the power is out.
Igniters and Pilots
Modern gas fireplaces more than likely have an intermittent pilot ignition system. This needs electricity to spark the pilot flame every time you go to use the fireplace. Many newer models, such as the Heatilator lines, have battery backup systems. The IntelliFire and IntelliFire Plus use batteries to pilot your gas fireplace during a power outage.
If you have a standing pilot, the gas fireplace will light itself without the need for electricity. But the pilot may need to be lit manually on occasion. The manual will have detailed instructions for the standing pilot that should be followed for safety considerations.
Spark That Fire
Bring on the heat by first approaching the gas valve and making sure it is on. Locate the pilot light, which could be behind a panel or under the main frame of the unit. A flashlight is handy for finding this small but important dial. While in the ignite position, press down on the knob until you begin to hear a clicking sound. This may take some time, particularly if the fireplace has not been used in some time. This is the system working to spark the gas to light the pilot. If you release the knob and the clicking stops, you will need to hold the ignition knob in until you see flames begin to catch along the gas line under the logs or tempered glass beads. If the fireplace hasn't lit up within 10 seconds, wait at least 10 seconds before trying again. It may take a few tries to get the fireplace to ignite. Once the pilot is lit, you can leave the fireplace pilot on and turn the fireplace on and off at the switch, remote or other application. The pilot light can stay lit without heating up the appliance or causing any damage.
Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at www.vegaswriter.com.