Your gas fireplace is an essential heating system. It produces clean, efficient heat to make those winters more bearable and requires very little maintenance in the bargain. That said, if the pilot light goes out, does the gas need to be turned off?
Today we’ll talk about your pilot light and answer the most common questions about why it’s there, what it does, and what kind of safety features are there to help keep that gas where it’s supposed to be. Let’s talk about your gas fireplace pilot light!
So, if the pilot light is off on the fireplace, does the gas need to be turned off?
Yes, you will need to turn off the gas to follow the steps for relighting your pilot. This is by design, but it is not an issue of your safety. This is because your fireplace a safety feature in the form of a thermocouple or a thermopile.
The thermocouple and the thermopile (what you will have depends on your model) are have the specific function of detecting your pilot light and shutting off the flow of gas when it is not lit.
Relighting your pilot is typically handled through a separate button that provides fuel for relighting, but this step requires shutting off your gas in the first place, so if the pilot light is out, then you should go ahead and turn off the gas, too.
What is a pilot light, and what does it do?
The pilot light is a small flame that is kept lit by a small, steady stream of gas and which serves the purpose of igniting the main burner in your fireplace. It also serves a preventative maintenance function in that it removes the moisture from the area in which it is housed.
This helps to keep corrosion at bay and keeps out spiders, who are oddly attracted to a chemical additive in a mercaptan gas. This causes them to sometimes go to the area where a pilot light is housed when the light is not lit, and their webbing can get into the tubes and cause issues.
If the pilot light goes out, does gas still flow?
No. As long as your thermocouple is functioning correctly, this is not a problem. Your thermocouple (or thermopile in some models) will shut off the flow of gas to the main burner if the pilot light is not detected.
This helps ensure that you don’t get an unsafe buildup of gas, posing a safety hazard. These safety-valve features are quite efficient in the furnaces and gas fireplaces of today, so if your pilot light goes out, you shouldn’t get a gas buildup even if you don’t notice until the next day.
Will the pilot light go out if gas is turned off?
Yes. Your pilot light does rely on the main gas flow for maintaining itself, though you will have a button that provides gas for when you relight it. Without the main gas flow, however, the pilot light is not maintained and will go out inside your gas fireplace or furnace.
Why should you turn off your gas fireplace pilot light?
There are no practical reasons for manually turning off your fireplace pilot light. While some people like to do this during the warmer months, there are advantages to keeping the pilot light-lit year-round.
First off, there is the corrosion factor which we mentioned. The heat from your pilot light, small as it is, will keep the interior where it is housed dry, and this helps to keep corrosion at bay. The second reason we touched on as well, that being spiders and their attraction to mercaptan.
We aren’t sure why they are attracted to this additive, but this is the case, and spider webs can clog up valves and tubes inside the interior of your gas fireplace.
With the small amount of gas used to maintain your pilot light, you are only looking at a charge of around $5 to $7 per month if you keep the pilot light running. Considering the advantages, we recommend that you keep it on throughout the year to avoid potential issues.
How do you know if the Pilot Light is Out?
You will want to check your manual, but typically there will be an aperture close to the fireplace wall where you’ll be able to view the pilot. Getting to know where this is housed is a good idea to check it when you need to without having to rush for the manual.
It’s best to learn this now if you don’t know where it is housed yet, just if you need to relight it or investigate further.
What Happens if the Pilot Light goes out on Gas Fireplace?
When the pilot light goes out in your gas fireplace, then the safety features, specifically your thermocouple or thermopile, will kick in and halt the gas flow. At this point, you can turn off the gas and attempt to see what is going on.
It may be that the main burners need to be vacuumed, or the thermocouple might need to be cleaned. With a thermopile, it could be a wiring issue. You can find steps online for cleaning the burners or thermocouples, but when it comes to wiring, you will likely want to get a professional involved.
This can be useful if it is a gas flow issue as well. Sometimes sporadic gas flows can cause performance issues with your gas fireplace. In cases like these, a professional can quickly diagnose if the issue is with your fireplace, gas supply, or even an issue with the gas meter or ‘peak use times’ that will need to be addressed through the gas company.
When in doubt, don’t try to do it yourself, a pro can get it fixed quickly, and you won’t risk voiding your warranty!
How do I Turn off the Gas to my Fireplace?
Turning off the gas flow to your gas stove is relatively easy.
Typically, you will have a dial divided into quarters and will have a convenient ‘off’ setting that you can turn the dial to.
Once you have done this, then the gas flow should be stopped completely so that you may follow the relighting steps for your pilot per your manual’s instructions.
If relighting the pilot doesn’t restore normal functions, then shutting the gas off gives you a little extra feeling of safety. At the same time, you wait for a professional repair technician to arrive.
While the gas flow shouldn’t be a problem with the safety valve features present in all gas fireplaces, we recommend that you go ahead and shut off the valves to be on the safe side.
It only takes moments and provides an extra feeling of security and assurance while you wait for your technician to arrive.
Today we have talked about the pilot light from your gas fireplace regarding what it does, why it might be out, and how it is fitted with safety features to help prevent the buildup of excess gas. Gas fireplaces are a pleasure to own and relatively safe, as the technology that keeps them so has been around for a good, long time.
If your pilot doesn’t stay lit, be sure to turn off your gas and contact a technician if you don’t feel comfortable cleaning your thermocouple on your own. Don’t worry about gas buildup, as the safety features have you covered, and don’t hesitate to call that technician if you are having problems.
The odds are that it’s a quick and easy fix, and they will get you up and running in no time!