Gas fireplaces are popular features in brand-new builds and as inserts installed in pre-existing fireplaces. They’re ideal for the homeowner who wants to enjoy the heat without becoming a lumberjack and having to deal with the upkeep of a traditional wood fireplace. Even if you don’t heat your indoors with a propane fireplace, you might cash in on the classy aesthetic and easy-access warmth of an outdoor propane fireplace.
Why the growing popularity of propane? There are a few reasons. First, the natural gas byproduct is a clean, abundant, safe, and affordable alternative heating source. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), propane prices should only rise 5% in the coming winter — dramatically less than other heating options.
Propane may be nearly foolproof, but it can still encounter issues. For instance, propane fireplaces can occasionally fail to start right away. If your propane fireplace insert doesn’t start, you aren’t up the creek without a paddle. Here are a few simple tips to fix the issue and get your home warm and toasty as soon as possible.
1. Start With the Pilot Light
Your pilot light is the first place to check when your propane fireplace won’t start. This little flame is always on, deep in your stove, waiting to start the fire when the time comes. If your stove model uses a pilot light, it’s usually easy to spot, and if you don’t see that little tongue of flame, your stove isn’t going to start.
When your pilot light isn’t working, you can usually address the issue without outside help. There are multiple ways to reignite a pilot, such as using a key valve and a lighter. It comes down to your particular fireplace, though. Find your user manual or manufacturer instructions and assess the correct way to relight the pilot. Once it’s lit, you should be good to go.
2. Check the Electricity
When thinking of a propane fireplace, your mind may not jump to electricity. But the truth is many stoves have an ignition system that functions on electricity. Like any other appliance, the fire won’t ignite if it loses its electricity.
Fortunately, this is an easy fix by checking your breaker box. Then, if something tripped the circuit breaker for your fireplace, flip it back into the on position, and presto! You’ve got heat again. You’ll find this makes you feel like an expert and deserves a pat on the back.
3. Clean Your Fireplace
Sometimes a fireplace can struggle to light because it’s covered in soot and grime that has accumulated over time. This can lead to a fireplace igniter failing to spark. It can also throw off your thermocouple or thermopile (the devices that tell the fireplace when to turn on).
Once again, this is an easy fix — although, in this case, it does require using a bit of elbow grease. You can follow a simple step-by-step breakdown for cleaning your fireplace, which includes cleaning off the ignitor and thermocouple for carbon build-up, which can lead to an easier ignition process. This step is really best left to a professional, its a good thing Paraco offers a service package for just this sort of cleaning.
4. Gauge Your Gas Supply
If your fireplace is clean as a whistle (unlike the rest of your house if you have kids) and your pilot light or ignitor isn’t the issue, your insert or firepit may not be getting enough gas in the first place. This can occur due to a few different reasons.
The quick and easy problem is that your gas valve isn’t turned on. Check your fireplace to see if the gas valve is turned to the “open” or “on” positions. If that’s the case and you still aren’t lighting, you may have an issue with the lines themselves.
Go to your propane tank and ensure that the tank’s valve is also in the open position. Next, check that the tank has propane and didn’t just run out when you weren’t looking (trust us, it’s something that can happen way too easily!).
If your tank is full and the tank and fireplace are open, you may have something blocking the line. When that’s the case, it’s time to call a local gas utility company to troubleshoot the issue for you.
Keeping Your Propane Fireplace Serviced
A pesky propane fireplace that won’t start is nothing unusual. But, in most cases, it’s something that you can easily resolve, too. In fact, it’s often an issue you can even avoid by having your propane fireplaces serviced regularly.
When you service your fireplace, it is inspected and cleaned by a professional. They can head off potential issues before they become active problems. What’s more, if you have a provider maintain your appliances on a schedule, they will burn cleaner and more efficiently.
If you sign up for a recurring service contract, you can also spread out the costs and receive priority service. This can be particularly useful if your stove won’t start during bouts of colder weather.
Whether you’re working with a professional contractor or trying a DIY fix, there are almost always solutions to a fireplace that won’t start. From there, you can decide if it’s a simple problem you can address, like relighting a pilot or flipping a breaker, or if you should call in the big guns to get your fireplace up and running again as soon as possible.