A gas fireplace is a convenient and appealing heating solution to keep your home warm during the cold months, as it heats your space while reducing the energy consumption and expenditure associated with a centralized heating system. But what if there was a power outage?
The way to light a gas fireplace without electricity depends on its ignition system. The process for IPI Valve ignition systems involves finding the control box and sliding the switch to “ON”, while that for Standing Pilot Light systems varies with the manufacturer.
Let’s take a look at the different gas fireplace ignition systems and how each works without electricity.
Types of Gas Fireplace Ignition Systems
Gas fireplaces have evolved quite a lot over the years. Two main types will ignite without electricity, but the procedure of starting each is different.
For all ignition systems, the first step is opening the chimney vent if your gas fireplace has one. You must open the outlet before sparking off a fire for safety reasons. If you have no external ventilation, ensure you limit the use of your gas fireplace without power to avoid potential dangers.
Your gas fireplace most likely has a standing pilot light if you have an older model. If your model is more recent, it most likely has an Intermittent Pilot Ignition (IPI) valve system. Whatever model you have, lighting it without electricity can be daunting, especially if you have no experience.
Here is a detailed write-up on the two main types of gas fireplace ignition systems and how to light them.
Intermittent Pilot Ignition (IPI) Valve System
This ignition system is designed to use electric power to kindle the flame. An electrode sparks the pilot flame for an IPI valve gas fireplace to ignite. The pilot flame, in turn, ignites the main gas burner, which then produces the main flame.
The primary burner must be on to allow ignition of the pilot flame. The pilot cannot ignite when the burner is off. The design of the IPI valve system is set to ensure that the burner position is right under the pilot flame for instant ignition.
The IPI valve system’s most notable feature is its energy efficiency. It conserves energy by igniting the flame only when you are using it.
For your IPI valve system to function without electricity, you must have backup batteries. Without electric power, the fan kit and lights that come with your gas fireplace will not function.
How To Light an Intermittent Pilot Ignition (IPI) Valve System Without Electricity
The IPI Valve System gas fireplace requires electricity to ignite. So in a power outage, you will need an alternative to ignite the flame. Fortunately, many IPI valve system fireplaces have a battery backup and need minimal human intervention to ignite.
Here’s how to light a fireplace with such a system without electricity:
- Check the batteries. Confirm whether the batteries are in place and the correct size. Your gas fireplace may either use four AA batteries or two D-cell batteries.
- Locate the control box. You can find the control box behind the stove or in the lower controls of your fireplace.
- Slide the switch to ‘ON’. The controller can slide to ‘ON’, ‘OFF’, and ‘REMOTE’. It has to be in the ‘ON’ position for your fireplace to operate without electricity.
It is important to note that you should only use batteries as a power source when there is a power outage. The temperatures of your fireplace can affect the longevity of the batteries. Once power restores, you should remove the batteries and only return them when you need them.
If your IPI valve system fireplace does not have a battery backup, you will need to check your user manual for manufacturer guidelines.
Standing Pilot Light System
Unlike the modern IPI valve system gas fireplaces, Standing Pilot Light Systems do not require electricity to ignite. They have a flame at the base of the burner that stays on at all times. When you switch on the fireplace, the flame lights the primary burner to produce heat.
The most crucial part of a standing pilot light system equipment is the thermocouple. The thermocouple links the gas pipe to the burner and is critical in running your gas fireplace without electricity.
If your gas fireplace has a blower and fan, you can still light it without electricity. However, the blower and fan will not turn on. These two circulate heat around the room. Therefore, you will be heating a smaller radius, but your fireplace will still work without a problem.
How To Light a Standing Pilot Light System Without Electricity
A standing Pilot Light System gas fireplace does not require electricity to ignite. Therefore, it will light without much intervention during a power outage. However, you may have to start it manually occasionally.
Lighting a standing Pilot Light System without electricity is similar for many models. Still, you should read the manual for model-specific instructions.
Here are the standard steps for lighting most models:
- Ensure that the gas valve is turned on. This valve is usually located close to the gas meter.
- Locate the pilot light. This light is a small dial that can either be behind the control panel of your fireplace or underneath the mainframe. If you cannot locate it, try using a flashlight.
- Turn the dial to the ignite position. You should turn the dial to the ‘off’ position whenever your fireplace is inactive.
- Push the knob until it starts clicking rhythmically. The knob links to the components that fire the pilot light.
- Keep holding the knob until a flame lights under the logs. The fire should catch within 10 seconds. If it does not, wait and try again after another 10 seconds. It may need some tries for the pilot light to start.
- When the flame lights, turn the fireplace on normally. If there is a flame under the logs and close to the gas lines, you can turn the fireplace on and off using the switch.
You can keep the pilot light safely on for as long as you want to use the fireplace or for the entire season. It does not heat your gas fireplace, and neither is it a fire hazard. It also doesn’t cause any damage.
Reasons Why Your Gas Fireplace May Stall
Your fireplace may take a while to ignite due to a few reasons:
- The last time you used it was more than six months ago.
- Dirt and dust build-up might be clogging the lines.
- The lines connecting the valve with the main pipe under the logs might be twisted, limiting gas delivery to the ignitor.
If you press the knob and it continues clicking for more than 30 seconds, it means that there is some obstruction in the lines. Wait for 10 seconds or more before retrying. It may take several attempts before your fireplace comes to life.
Safety Tips When Using a Gas Fireplace
A fireplace acts as a centerpiece and transforms the ambiance of any home. It keeps your family and house warm, especially during the cold season.
The primary purpose is to hold a flame that produces heat, so safety is critical:
- Safety screens: Your gas fireplace should have a screen that covers the glass. The protective screen creates a barrier that prevents any direct contact between your skin and the hot surface. If the screen is not heatproof, it can retain heat. Therefore, it is advisable not to touch the safety screen.
- Carbon monoxide detectors: Carbon monoxide is odorless, poisonous, and can be deadly. For this reason, your home should have carbon monoxide detectors placed in rooms with or near gas appliances, including the fireplace. You should also have smoke detectors and ensure that all sensors have working batteries at all times.
- Direct vent model: When buying a gas fireplace, choose a direct vent model. These models have a sealed combustion model that protects indoor air quality. They draw air for the fire from outside and expel combustion exhaust and all by-products outside your home.
- Annual inspections: Plan for a licensed hearth dealer or gas technician to conduct an annual inspection of your fireplace. The inspector will examine the gas lines, clean the control compartment and the burner, and assess the fireplace for condensation. You should keep this annual appointment on schedule without delays.
What You Need To Know About Your Gas Fireplace
A gas fireplace offers the benefit of being a comfortable source of heat at the click of a button. But, you may be wondering whether it is safe or even environmentally friendly. Take a look at what you need to know about your gas fireplace:
- A safety screen is a must-have. Your fireplace most likely has tempered glass that provides a view of the flames. Although this glass is resistant to high temperatures, it becomes scalding hot. It heats fast and can remain hot for more than half an hour after your fireplace goes off.
- Clean with care. Like other surfaces, the glass window on your fireplace may require regular cleaning. The most important rule to remember is never to clean the glass with a damp cloth when the glass is still hot. Check the manufacturer’s guide on cleaning it properly.
- Keep flammables away. Always leave a three-foot space between your fireplace and flammable items like curtains, rugs, or furniture. Although your gas fireplace does not produce sparks during use, the components heat to extreme temperatures and can ignite objects that are too close. Also, be cautious when decorating the mantle during holidays.
- Bigger is not better. Having a high-output fireplace set up in a small room brings more heat discomfort. When choosing an ideal fireplace, consider your home’s layout, airtightness, and other sources of heat. If you place your fireplace strategically, it can save up to half of your heating demands.
- Gas fireplaces are not the same. All gas fireplaces are energy efficient, clean, and produce less carbon monoxide than the traditional wood versions. However, your gas fireplace can be classified as a heater or decorative, depending on its performance and efficiency. When comparing different types, check the efficiency ratings.
- Do not use your fireplace during renovations. If you plan to renovate your home in winter, think of alternative heat sources. Accumulation of debris and dust can damage the burner, the motor, or the fan. Also, it is not safe to light your fireplace when there are flammable items like paint cans nearby.
- Prevent carbon monoxide leakage. All gas appliances, including fireplaces, produce carbon monoxide. This poisonous gas is colorless, odorless, and tasteless and causes subtle symptoms in the early stages of poisoning. Leakage in your home could be fatal. Therefore, having carbon monoxide detectors is a critical safety measure.
Frequently Asked Questions About Lighting a Gas Fireplace Without Electricity
Is a Gas Fireplace Safe To Start During a Power Failure?
Your gas fireplace is safe to start when there is a power failure, provided that it vents outside. The outlet helps eliminate the carbon monoxide that your fireplace will produce.
The ventilation system can function fully without electricity, especially a direct vent fireplace or a fireplace insert.
Can You Operate a Gas Fireplace Safely Without a Fan?
You can operate your gas fireplace safely without a fan because the fan does not affect the exhaust. Its role is to blow the heat that your fireplace generates and circulate it in the room.
The fan does not play any part in ventilation. Without it, your fireplace will only heat a smaller section of the room. With a fan, your room will have an equal distribution of heat.
Does a Gas Fireplace Cause Carbon Monoxide Leakage During a Power Outage?
Your gas fireplace will not cause carbon monoxide if it has a direct vent going out of the house. Various gas fireplaces have different kinds of ducts to release the exhaust. The vents in your fireplace determine whether carbon monoxide leakage will be a concern when there is a power outage.
Regardless of how your fireplace releases the exhaust, your carbon monoxide detector should always be functional. Any leakage will trigger the alarm and protect you from a life-threatening situation.
Many gas fireplace models can operate without electricity. If you are experiencing a power outage, you can light your Intermittent Pilot Ignition Valve System or the Standing Pilot Light System fireplace.
IPI valve systems have backup batteries to spark the flame. Standing Pilot Light systems can start without your intervention but sometimes require manual lighting.