How to Fix a Gas Fireplace that Keeps Turning Off

Category: Fireplace

A fireplace that doesn’t work is a frustrating thing.  A gas fireplace that doesn’t work can be a little scary to try to fix.  Fortunately, there are a few tips and tricks you can employ to get your gas fireplace back up and running but fixing your gas fireplace yourself is not advisable if you’re inexperienced.

Remember, you’re working with a combustion appliance and it doesn’t take much for an incorrect fix to have deadly consequences.  If you don’t feel comfortable working with a combustion appliance, then definitely save yourself from nasty ramifications by calling in a fireplace professional.  They’re not only certified to work with these devices, but trained and experience, too.

Knowing the Fireplace Parts

If your gas fireplace keeps turning off, you’ll first need to diagnose the problem.  Before that, however, you should be aware of the common parts you’ll need to examine.  There’s the pilot light, its sensors, which are called the thermocouple and thermopile, and the burner ports.  By checking all of these, you can hone in on the source of the issue.

What is the Pilot Light?

The pilot light is a key component of your gas fireplace and it could be the reason why you’re having some problems.  The pilot light is the small blue flame that ignites once you press or flip a switch.  Some pilot lights ignite when you turn a key, or some pilot lights will continuously run as long as the gas is on.

The purpose of the pilot light gives your fire a little boost by helping to ignite the logs.  This extra bit of assistance from your pilot light will cut down on the effort of getting your fire roaring, saving you on kindling and time.

Thermocouple and Thermopile

The pilot light should be blue, but it can also have a small amount of yellow mixed in its flame.  If the flame is yellow or red, you have a problem.  This discoloration means that the gas is contaminated.  When the pilot light is flipped on, you should notice that the flame is in contact with the surrounding sensors.   These sensors are the thermocouple and thermopile.  If the problem isn’t with one, then there’s a good chance it’s with the other.

The thermocouple is responsible for measuring the gas flow and supplying the gas to pilot light through a valve.  The thermopile is the sensor that opens the gas valve when you turn the gas fireplace on.

Fixing Your Gas Fireplace

First make sure that the gas is able to turn on and is supplied to the pilot light.  Before you go checking and replacing all of the fireplace parts, try resetting the pilot light.  If the gas fireplace continues to keep shutting off, then begin examining the parts.

Gas Logs burning

Check the Thermopile

Start with the thermopile.  Although the two sensors are quite similar, the thermopile does have more of an electrical current than the thermocouple.  Here you’ll need a multimeter, a device that analyzes the TH/TP contacts to decipher the amount of electricity that’s being produced. Make sure the pilot light has been on for at least two minutes but shut it off before you go to test.

At the main gas control valve, locate the thermopile sensor with electric contacts labeled TH/TP and TP.  If you run into trouble, consult the manufacturer’s instruction manual for assistance.  Your multimeter should read 300 millivolts or higher, anything less means that the thermopile probably needs to be cleaned.

You can clean the thermopile easily by shutting off the gas supply and using a small stainless-steel brush and fine-grit sandpaper.  Use your multimeter again to get another reading.  If it’s still low, then you’ll need to replace the thermopile.

Check the Thermocouple

If the thermopile reads fine, then turn your attention to the thermocouple.  Use your multimeter device to get a reading on the thermocouple, which should read 25 millivolts or higher.  Anything less, the thermocouple will need to be replaced.

Check the Burner Ports

Lastly, check the burner ports.  Like the thermopile, the burner ports can become dirty and clog.  In this scenario, the pilot light flame becomes uneven or doesn’t ignite at all.  Cleaning the burner ports with an air duster could resolve your gas fireplace problem.

Your Gas Fireplace Still Won’t Stay Lit

Have you checked, cleaned, and/or replaced all of the necessary parts and your gas fireplace still keeps shutting off?  Your gas fireplace may be encountering a few of these common problems:

  • Gas valve: even though gas fireplaces are safe, they still have working parts that can become faulty over time and use.  There’s a small chance that the gas valve can suffer this fate if you’ve used it over a long period of time.  You’ll need to call a professional to help you identify and fix a faulty gas valve.
  • Gas line: the drip loop can fail due to moisture in the gas line, which could be another viable reason why your gas fireplace won’t stay lit.  Moisture and natural gas don’t mix as one dilutes the other.  You’ll need a professional to identify and resolve this problem.
  • Gas pressure: there could be a problem with your gas service pressure.  If it’s not set right, your gas fireplace will keep turning off.  This problem can be solved by contacting both a fireplace technician and your utility company.

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