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How to Light a Gas Fireplace Quickly and Safely

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One of the most desired aspects in both new home construction and remodeling is the addition of a fireplace. These days, nearly sixty percent of new homes have at least one fireplace. Homes that have a fireplace on average are appraised up to $12,000 more than similar homes that lack a hearth. So whether you are looking to build or revamp your home, it is in your best interest to consider this feature in your design. 

What Types Of Fireplaces Are There?

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There are several different types of fireplaces for you to give thought to. Electric fireplaces use electric coils to create heat. They use a fan to help circulate warmth throughout the room. The disadvantage of this type is that depending on how much you use your fireplace, an electric blaze could increase your electric bill quite a bit.

Gas fireplaces can be either free-standing or direct-vented. Free standing gas fireplaces use a pipe for ventilation. This feature makes it easier to install in an area that does not have an existing hearth. Direct-vented gas fireplaces use a chimney, either an existing one or one built expressly for that fireplace. If you already have a mantel and chimney, it can easily be adapted to house a direct-vented gas fireplace.

Gel fireplaces are self-contained and use isopropyl based fuel. Ethanol fireplaces are also self-contained but use ethyl alcohol, grain alcohol, or ETOH biofuel to maintain the fire. Both of these are good options if you are renting a home but still want to have a fireplace. However, your area may not have easy access to one or both of these fuels. 

Finally, wood-burning fireplaces are those that use wood as fuel and has a chimney for ventilation purposes. These are the ones that most people think of when they imagine a fireplace since it has been around for ages.

What Is The Difference Between A Gas Fireplace And A Traditional Fireplace?

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A fireplace is a wonderful thing to have on those long winter evenings. Overall, a gas fireplace is a better investment than a traditional wood-fueled hearth. In comparison to a traditional wood burning fireplacea gas fireplace creates less mess. 

A gas fireplace produces fewer contaminating emissions. It doesn’t require a seasoned wood stockpile to use. Because there is no ash residue, you don’t need to clean it out after each use. There is no creosote buildup in the chimney caused by burning wood. 

Gas fireplaces don’t need a chimney so you can install one nearly anywhere in your home with far less hassle than a traditional fireplace. The gasses created as the natural gas burns in the fireplace can be vented through PVC pipes in the wall. Some gas fireplaces have built-in fans to circulate the heat better throughout the room, so less heat is lost up the chimney.  

Although most gas fireplaces can be lit at the touch of a button, even if there is an electrical outage, many can still be lit manually. Several models have a pilot light, much like a gas stove, that can be turned on either with a remote control or wall switch. 

These days, natural gas is very inexpensive. Therefore, a gas fireplace, which averages about $60 a year to use, is better for your wallet than a traditional wood-burning fireplace, which costs about $120 per year. 

A gas fireplace also will give you more control over the temperature and flame appearance. The fire level can be adjusted easily without fiddling with the poker and chimney flue. Several models also have an automatic thermostat or timer, which further reduces the effort you need to use your fireplace. 

What Are The Benefits Of Having A Gas Fireplace?

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The most substantial proportion of space heating in North America is natural gas. Availability is high, and hook-up costs are low, making it an affordable option to take the chill off year-round. As mentioned above, a fireplace adds substantially to your home’s appraised value. 

Modern gas fireplaces have a realistic look to them that overrides the complaints of die-hard wood-burning fireplace aficionados. The ceramic logs are textured to mimic the real thing at a level that gas fireplaces are sometimes mistaken for wood. This more natural look of a gas fireplace adds to the ambiance of the room and helps you feel relaxed.

Are There Any Reasons To Not Have A Gas Fireplace?

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If you live in an area where power outages during the winter are a concern, make sure that the gas fireplace you choose has a non-electric lighting option. If your propane is piped from a natural gas plant, the power outages might mean your fuel is cut off for a time. You may wish to have a backup source such as a propane tank for such instances.  

If you absolutely must have the smokey scent of pine, hickory or mesquite as you lounge in front of the flames, you are out of luck with a gas fireplace.  Natural gas burns cleanly, without the aroma associated with wood-burning fires. 

However, even gas fireplaces have some emissions, including nitrogen dioxide. So if you have any respiratory issues at all, consider not using gas or wood burning appliances including fireplaces.  

How Do You Light A Gas Fireplace?

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While most gas fireplaces are very similar in design, you should always read the instruction manual that comes with your particular model thoroughly before lighting. If at any time, whether the fireplace is on or off, there is a strong smell of gas, leave the house immediately. Your fireplace may have a leak. 

From outside, call the fire department or natural gas provider for further instructions. Natural gas is flammable and can be dangerous. Therefore, it is imperative that you learn how to light a gas fireplace correctly to avoid injury. 

Here are two ways how to light a gas fireplace quickly and safely:

Lighting A Gas Fireplace With A Control Panel

  • Open the fireplace’s control panel. The control panel manages the pilot light. You will often find the control panel tucked behind the front screen. You can usually remove the screen to access the control panel by pulling on it. 
  • Find the control knob. It should have on, off, and pilot settings. Turn the knob to the off position for at least five minutes to let any gas lingering in the pipes to clear. 
  • If your fireplace has a shutoff valve, twist it until it is parallel with the gas line so that fuel can enter the fireplace. 
  • When you are ready to light the fire, turn the control knob to the pilot position.
  • Press the control knob and hold it down. Then tap the ignition switch until it ignites. If the pilot light does not light, repeat steps 1-4 again. If it still does not light, turn everything off and call a professional.
  • Be sure to hold the control knob down for at least 30 seconds. Doing so will give the thermocouple time to register that the pilot light is back on. The thermocouple is a safety device designed to stop the gas flow if the pilot light blows out. 
  • Turn the control knob to the on position. 
  • Replace the front screen.

Lighting A Gas Fireplace With An Ignition Key

  • Remove the outer cover that separates the room from the fire chamber. 
  • Inset the fireplace key into the gas valve. Do not turn it yet. Some fireplaces have the key built-in. If you have lost the key, you can typically get a replacement at home improvement stores or order one online from the manufacturer. 
  • Light the burner while turning the gas valve with the key. Turn the gas valve counter-clockwise about half a turn to allow gas to enter.
  • Put the outer cover back on. 
  • Use the gas valve to adjust the flame size. 

How Do You Maintain A Gas Fireplace?

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You should check your gas fireplace periodically for carbon soot build-up or damage that may result from a storm that could result in a gas leak. While you are at it, clean the burner plate. To do this, close the gas valve and shut off the pilot light. Use a can of compressed air to blow open any clogged holes. 

If you are having problems keeping the pilot light on, check the thermocouple. You may need to replace it. The flames will look light blue when the pilot light is working correctly. If the pilot light is functioning, but the fire won’t start, check the thermopile. You can get replacement parts and repair it yourself or hire a professional to do so.

Conclusion

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Fireplaces are both aesthetically and psychologically pleasing. Gas fireplaces tend to be cleaner and easier to use than traditional wood-burning fireplaces. If your home already has a fireplace, either electric or wood-burning, consider replacing it with a gas model. 

Knowing how to light a gas fireplace safely and quickly will go a long way in allowing you to enjoy the ambiance and heating properties of your hearth for years to come. 


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