Environmental Chimney Sweep Inc.

Reasons Your Fire Won’t Light in Your Fireplace


The reasons you cannot get a fire started in your fireplace are obviously different for different kinds of fireplaces. If it is a gas fireplace, check to see that the valve is open and that gas is being supplied to the fireplace. If it is a wood burner, problems can vary from unseasoned wood to insufficient kindling to an improperly built fire.

Starting a Fire - Baton Rouge LA - Basic Chimney Sweep

Obviously, a gas fireplace will not light if it is not receiving any gas, so confirming the gas supply is the first thing to do. There is usually a valve either at the bottom of the fireplace or on a wall switch that turns the gas on and off. This allows gas to flow from the main line through the pipe into the fireplace and should be turned off when the fireplace is not in use.

Another thing to check is the pilot light, which may have been blown out by wind or a sudden downdraft. If that is the case, restart it by turning the control knob counter-clockwise to the Pilot position. Click the red button until the pilot lights, hold it in for a minute, and then turn the knob to its “ON” position. Pilots are generally left on throughout the winter season but shut off when the fireplace is not in use to avoid their unnecessary expense.

If the pilot ignites but will not stay on, there may be a problem with the thermo coupling, which senses whether a pilot flame is present. If the pilot stays on but the fire will not start, thermo piling may be to blame. Thermo piling uses the pilot flame to produce an electric spark that opens the gas valve. As this is a tiny spark, it is also important for the fireplace and gas logs to be clean, as even a little dust can block the valve.

If your fireplace is wood burning and the wood is dry, you may simply need to rebuild the fire. Newspaper, plenty of kindling, sticks and wood pieces, all topped with larger logs, should be placed on the grate in that order. It needs to be possible for air to flow through and around the pile since fire needs oxygen to burn, so do not pack it too tight.

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