A gas fireplace is a convenient way to stay warm during the winter and also improve the ambiance of your living room. However, if your gas fireplace stops working, fixing it can often feel like a challenging and stressful affair. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be.
Your gas fireplace can stop working if the remote batteries are dead, there’s no power, the gas flow is obstructed, the pilot light got blown out, the thermocouple/thermopile got loose, or from a miscalibrated thermostat. Solving the particular problem will get your fireplace working again.
In this article, I’ll go over all the various reasons why your gas fireplace isn’t working. I’ve also provided solutions for each specific problem so that you can troubleshoot the issue efficiently.
1. The Fireplace Remote Isn’t Working
Are you having difficulty turning on your fireplace with the remote? If yes, it’s possible that the issue is with the remote and not the fireplace!
As such, if you own a modern remote-operated fireplace that you can’t turn on, the first thing you should do is check its batteries.
That said, some fireplaces that use a remote also have a battery-operated receiver built-in. And if the batteries on either the remote or the receiver are dead, then you won’t be able to turn on your fireplace – at least not remotely.
Also, apart from dead batteries, the remote or receiver might be damaged, which is why it’s not working.
Now, the best way to diagnose this problem is to check if you can turn on the fireplace manually. If yes, you can be sure that the problem is either with the remote or the receiver.
How To Fix
Changing the batteries should be your first option if you suspect that the fireplace remote and/or receiver are causing the problem.
The remote will likely use a couple of AA or AAA batteries. Whereas the receiver might also use the same or cell batteries. I’d recommend checking the fireplace manual/instruction book on what batteries the device uses and then buying new ones accordingly.
However, if you still can’t turn on the fireplace with the remote after replacing the batteries, either the remote or receiver got damaged. In this case, you can take them to a repair shop to get them fixed or buy new ones specific to your fireplace model.
2. There’s No Power
Most modern gas fireplaces use electronic ignition. If that’s the case with your model as well, then check the power source. Maybe the electricity to the fireplace got cut off, which is why it’s not working.
The first thing you should do is check the breaker box or fuse box in your home.
Most gas fireplaces will have a dedicated fuse. To check if the fuse has blown, you can unscrew the fuse holder cap and see if there’s any gap in the fuse wire or a dark smear inside the fuse. If yes, you need to replace that fuse with a new one.
If the fuse is okay, check if any circuit breaker has tripped, which can also cut off power to your gas fireplace.
How To Fix
If the fuse for your gas fireplace has blown, then replacing it should bring back the power and allow you to use the electronic ignition again.
Whereas, if you notice that the circuit breaker has tripped, flip it back on to restore the power supply.
Now, in case you’re wondering why the circuit breaker tripped in the first place, it’s a safety mechanism to save the circuit from overheating when too much current is passing through it.
That said, if you find that the circuit breaker keeps tripping, then you should call in an electrician to check it out.
3. There’s No Gas Flow
Your gas fireplace needs “gas” to work, and if there’s no gas, it won’t start a flame.
Now, depending on your fireplace setup, it’ll either use a propane tank or draw in fuel from a natural gas line. If you don’t know which source of gas your fireplace uses, call the technician who installed it.
If it uses a propane tank, check if it’s properly delivering gas. You’ll notice that there’s a knob on the top of the tank. If it’s turned “off,” then it won’t deliver gas to the fireplace, and you won’t have any flame. It’s also possible that the propane tank is empty, which is why there’s no gas.
Alternatively, if the fireplace is attached to a natural gas line, check to see if it’s working properly. If your utility company turned off the gas line, you won’t get any fuel into the fireplace.
Apart from these, an embarrassingly common reason a fireplace won’t start is that the gas valve is turned off.
For example, after last winter, when you knew you wouldn’t need to use the fireplace anymore, you might have turned the gas valve off. And if it’s off, then the ignition won’t get any gas, and there won’t be any flame.
How To Fix
If your gas fireplace uses a propane tank, turn on the gas delivery and check if that resolves the problem. If you can’t tell the gas delivery is on or off, turn the knob to the opposite direction and check if that fixes the problem.
That said, if there’s no gas flow because the propane tank is empty, contact your propane supplier to refill it. In case you’re wondering how to check the propane level in your tank, then here’s a short 50-sec YouTube video to help you out:
Now, if your fireplace is connected to a natural gas line, and you suspect there’s a problem with it, then you’ll need to call in a technician to check it out.
Whereas, if your natural gas supply is shut off, then you’ll need to get in touch with your utility company to turn it back on.
Moving on, if the problem is because the fireplace’s gas valve is off, then just turning it back on will solve your problem. Usually, the gas valve is placed inside the firebox – especially with modern models. However, holder fireplaces either had a key or switch right beside the fireplace, either on the floor or the wall.
4. There’s Air in the Gas Line
Most of us don’t need to use fireplaces from March and keep them turned off until winter again – usually during November or December. As you can see, the fireplace stays dormant for close to 8-9 months.
That’s a long time! And one of the side effects of not using a fireplace for that long is that air gets trapped inside the gas line.
As such, if winter just rolled over and it’s your first time lighting the fireplace, and it doesn’t work, it most likely has trapped air in the pipes.
This is perfectly normal as well as extremely common and can be fixed quite easily.
How To Fix
If you have trapped air in a gas line, you can easily remove that by holding down the pilot button for a couple of minutes to allow all the air to come out.
You’ll know that all the air left the pipes as soon as you get a strong smell of gas.
5. There Are Problems With the Pilot Light
Almost all gas-powered fireplaces will have a pilot light – a small burner that keeps burning and helps ignite the flame in the rest of the fireplace when necessary.
The pilot light can get blown out by a strong draft or from an interrupted gas flow. Either way, if the pilot light is off, the fireplace won’t work.
Pilot lights can also go out if it’s not been cleaned for a long time. Dirt and soot can build up in its orifice, preventing gas from coming through and fueling the flame.
Other common problems include insects creating nests inside the pilot light’s tubing.
To check if the problem is with the pilot light, you’ll need to open the vent in your fireplace and see if there’s a small flame burning around the center. If not, you most likely have a problem with the pilot light.
How To Fix
If the pilot light got blown out for some reason, then you can easily fix the problem by lighting it back up.
Now, you might think a lighter or a simple match should do the trick. But to use them, you’ll need to get uncomfortably close to the fireplace, which isn’t particularly wise.
In fact, I recommend that you consult the manufacturer’s instructions on how to relight the pilot light before going forward. If it says it’s safe for regular users to attempt relighting the flame, then use an extended long nozzle lighter so you can be at a safe distance.
That said, if the problem is from accumulated dirt or soot build-up, then there’s nothing you can do but clean it.
However, do so as gently as possible, especially when you’re cleaning the pilot light’s orifice. It’s very thin, usually smaller than the tip of a toothpick, and you don’t want to enlarge it by poking it.
I’d recommend using a brush for the orifice and a green scuff pad or regular sanding paper for scrapping the soot off the pipes.
Here’s an 8-min YouTube video showcasing how to make your way to the pilot light and clean it, so your fireplace starts working again:
6. The Thermostat Is Miscalibrated
Is your fireplace connected to the thermostat and programmed to turn on when the temperature gets low automatically?
If yes, then a miscalibrated thermostat (reading a slightly higher or lower temperature than what’s actually in the room) might be the reason why your fireplace isn’t working.
Also, did you recently tweak the thermostat settings, or did the device get a new software update? Either of these scenarios can change the thermostat settings and might program it to turn on the fireplace at a much lower temperature than what’s your current room temperature.
Another possibility is that the thermostat is malfunctioning and not detecting the proper in-room temperature.
How To Fix
If you think that your thermostat is miscalibrated, you need to go into the settings and calibrate it properly.
To do this, you’ll need another thermostat or room thermometer for reference. That said, some thermostats don’t have a calibration feature, in which case you need to call in a technician.
Now, if the problem is simply because of a tweaked automation setting, you can retweak it again so that it turns on the fireplace at your desired temperature.
However, if the thermostat itself is broken and not reading the correct temperature at all, the only fix is to get it repaired or replaced.
7. There Are Issues With the Thermocouple or Thermopile
A thermocouple is a temperature sensor that also controls the gas valve and generates the electricity for igniting the gas. It’s shaped like a small metal probe and is placed in-between the gas valve and the pilot light.
Similar to a thermocouple, a thermopile is also a temperature sensor that generates voltage to spark the ignition. Thermopiles are generally found on newer fireplace models replacing the thermocouple.
Now, regardless of whether your model is using a thermocouple or thermopile, if it gets unscrewed or dislodged, then your fireplace will stop working.
How To Fix
If you notice that the thermocouple or thermopile is unscrewed or out of position, you need to screw it back into the right place.
That said, correctly hooking up a loose thermocouple or thermopile is a difficult task.
As such, I only recommend trying this step if you have exhausted all other measures of fixing your fireplace.
Also, if you don’t have experience handling electronics, then I’d recommend that you call in a technician for this part.
They have dedicated equipment to make sure the thermocouple or thermopile is working, and depending on what they find, they can either screw it back in properly or replace it with a new one.
If your gas fireplace isn’t working, first, you’ll need to go through a thorough troubleshooting process before proceeding with a possible solution.
The most common issues include dead remote batteries, problems with the power supply, obstructed gas flow, a miscalibrated thermostat, or issues with the core components – pilot light, thermocouple, and thermopile.
That said, after checking each possible cause and its solution, if you’re still having trouble with your fireplace, it’s time to call in a professional.