How To Fix Delayed Ignition On Your Gas Fireplace

A gas fireplace is a great feature to have in your home. It’s essentially an aesthetic space heater. But if not properly maintained, you may run into problems with your gas fireplace. A common issue you may have run into is having delayed ignition of your fireplace, but how do you fix that?

The most common cause of delayed ignition is the fireplace needing to be serviced. Dirt and soot build up in the thermocouple, causing an irregular flow of gas, which increases the time required to ignite.

There are several things that could cause your fireplace to experience delayed ignition; read on to learn how you can resolve this issue and get your fireplace back to proper working order.

What Causes Delayed Ignition On A Gas Fireplace?

Several things can cause delayed ignition; a dirty thermocouple, fireplace needs servicing, or a part is faulty and needs to be replaced. There may be other causes, however, these are the most common reasons for delayed ignition.

The first thing that always comes up with gas fireplaces is flipping the switch and waiting… and waiting until the burner finally lights up and starts to produce heat. The whole time you can hear or even see the gas coming out, but not being lit.

There are several things that can cause this to happen.

  • The fireplace needs to be cleaned. This includes all the internal components, most notably the thermocouple.
  • Long delay between uses – Gas has dissipated from the line and the air needs to be pushed out.
  • Pilot light & Gas Logs need to be realigned.

This doesn’t encompass all possible scenarios, since there are many different makes and models of gas fireplaces, but it does cover the most likely scenarios. If your issues lie outside of these possibilities, we recommend you at least get a technician on the phone to troubleshoot the issue with you!

Whether you are a seasoned handyman or can hardly tell most hand tools apart, you may want to contact your local fireplace technician to come to your home to diagnose and fix the issue your fireplace is experiencing.

Safety is the most important thing, and we do not like to mess around with things like faulty gas fittings leaking into the house or causing fires.

Fireplaces Need To Be Cleaned

Gas and electric fireplaces are clean burning fireplaces and don’t build up creosote like a wood-burning fireplace. They do need to be maintained and cleaned. Here is a list of things to prepare before cleaning your fireplace:

  • Cloth rags
  • Vacuum Cleaner
  • An alcohol-based cleaner that’s fireplace approved
  • Paintbrush or Soft-Bristled toothbrush
  • Compressed Air
  • Tools to dismantle fireplace

Once you have these items gathered, you are ready to get started cleaning your fireplace!

Before you start, though, make sure your fireplace has been off for at least several hours. This ensures everything is cooled before you begin to work on it.

To clean your fireplace, follow these steps:

  1. Turn the gas valve to your fireplace off.
  2. Dismantle the mantle.
  3. Take a picture of how your fireplace logs are set up! (This will ensure an easy reinstall after everything has been cleaned!).
  4. Take apart your natural gas logs and set them aside on one of your cloth rags.
  5. Dust your fireplace logs with the paintbrush or toothbrush.
  6. Remove the thermocouple, which looks like a piece of straight pipe next to the pilot light.
  7. Use compressed gas to blow the soot/dust/dirt out of the thousands of tiny holes. Wipe down with a clean rag afterward.
  8. Use your vacuum to clean the fireplace completely of any dust and debris.
  9. Put everything back the way you found it (now is a good time to look at the picture you took).
  10. Wipe down the glass mantle for a spotless, clean look.
  11. Turn the gas valve back on.

You have just cleaned your fireplace! Now try turning it on; there should no longer be a delayed ignition so long as the thermocouple has been thoroughly cleaned!

Time Delay Between Fireplace Ignition

Do you only use your fireplace occasionally? Maybe the climate where you live is only mild and not freezing cold for long portions of the year.

When there is a long time delay between uses, the gas that is left over in the lines from the last use has sat for a long time eventually dissipates and is replaced by air in the lines.

When the switch is clicked to turn on the gas and ignite the burner, it may take a few extra seconds or minutes, depending on the amount of air sitting in the line that needs to be expelled!

The line from the valve to the burner is much smaller than the line connecting to the valve is, which is why it takes so long for the air to get pushed out before allowing the gas to flow again.

If your fireplace ignites without issue after your initial delayed ignition start, then this is a likely culprit to the problem you are experiencing!

It is very common in gas fireplaces and isn’t something to be concerned with.

Pilot Light And Gas Log Out Of Alignment

This is most commonly caused after an annual fireplace maintenance checkup or you just finished cleaning it. When the logs were taken out to be cleaned, they were not reinstalled in the same position that they were in originally.

This puts the logs and pilot light further away from the thermocouple (that releases the gas), meaning more gas must pool in the air for the pilot light to ignite the burner.

Either check with the fireplace manufacturer for proper setup or call your local fireplace technicians and have them come to reset the logs and pilot for proper use.

Dan Westfield

Hi everyone! My name is Dan and I currently have two fireplaces, a wood-burning and a gas one. I cannot live without them and love to share my passion with you all!

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