10 Common Gas Fireplace Problems and How to Solve Them

Gas Fireplace in Seattle, WA

Many homes in Kirkland, WA include a gas fireplace. With no need to store and haul wood, many people find gas fireplaces to be more convenient than their wood-burning counterparts. These fixtures also offer warmth and create a cozy atmosphere, and they add value to your home. Like other gas-powered appliances in your home, they require maintenance and are prone to certain types of issues. Let’s take a closer look at 10 of the most common gas fireplace problems and what you should do if you notice these issues with your fireplace.

1. Malfunctioning Ignition

Ignition malfunctions are common in gas fireplaces. Damaged wiring might cause the ignition to draw too much current. This will trip the breaker in your circuit breaker box. If you notice that the breaker repeatedly trips after resetting it, you’ll need professional fireplace repairs. The fireplace ignition may also malfunction if the gas valve is closed. If there’s nothing to ignite, it can’t create a flame. If you’re unsure of how to open the gas valve or what level to set the gas flow, call for service. Check the other gas-powered appliances in your home. If they are also malfunctioning, your home might have an issue with the natural gas supply line. After the gas company makes repairs, it’s important to have your gas fireplace and other appliances inspected and tested for proper and safe operation.

2. Pilot Won’t Stay Lit

Most gas fireplaces have a pilot light. Dust or dirt can settle on the pilot light’s sensor. When the sensor’s beam is blocked, the pilot won’t ignite the gas. You may need to clean the sensor and relight the pilot. Too much airflow can blow out the pilot light. Make sure the vent cap on your chimney is in place. You may need to call a technician to check the airflow to the fireplace. If the pilot still won’t stay lit, it could have a problem with its wiring or thermopile. These issues require professional attention.

3. Flickering Burner

The flame of your gas fireplace should be steady and blue to yellow in color. A variety of burner problems can develop in a gas fireplace, leading to issues like a flickering flame or flame that gets too tall. Insufficient voltage, a failing thermocouple or malfunctioning thermostat are common causes of flickering burners. The burner or pilot may be dirty. An annual cleaning gets rid of debris buildup that interferes with normal burner operation.

4. Foul Odors

Foul odors are never normal with a gas fireplace. A common cause is a dirty chimney. Debris or soot in the chimney or flue may get hot and release bad smells. An animal may have entered the chimney and died there, and using the fireplace ignites its carcass. If you notice an electrical burning smell or an odor of burning gas, turn off your fireplace, open the doors and windows and call for emergency repairs.

5. Unusual Sounds

Your gas fireplace shouldn’t make much noise. If it has a blower, you may notice a soft humming or whirring. You might notice a rare crackle when a bit of dust or ash hits the burner. If you hear low rumbling sounds, the flame may be too high. Dirty burners may create rumbling sounds. A failing blower may cause grinding or screeching noises. Routine fireplace maintenance prevents these unusual sounds. A blower repair or replacement may be needed if the belts fail.

6. Soot Buildup

Too much gas flow or too little oxygen may cause soot to build up in the bottom of your gas fireplace. Debris in the chimney or flue vent could also create soot. Birds, bees, wasps or rodents may have built a nest in the chimney, and the heat in the waste gasses ignites the debris, creating soot. An annual chimney inspection and cleaning can prevent this. You can also check the chimney yourself by using a flashlight. During your annual gas fireplace tune-up, our technicians check the gas and oxygen flow and can recalibrate the valves to ensure proper ratios of gas and air for the combustion process.

7. Fireplace Won’t Respond

Many homeowners with gas fireplaces don’t realize that the fireplace’s gas log and remote control use batteries. If the batteries go bad, the receiver behind the gas log will not get a signal or respond to the signal from the remote. The batteries have a typical lifespan of about two years, but frequent use of the fireplace may deplete their charge in less time. You can replace the batteries in the remote control, but it’s best to leave the gas log battery replacement to a trained professional.

8. White or Cloudy Glass

Fireplace doors are made of special glass that’s designed to withstand heat. Over time, minerals from the gas and moisture in your home’s air settle on the glass. This causes the glass to appear white or cloudy. Keeping up with annual professional tune-ups of your gas fireplace includes cleaning of the glass. You should not use household glass cleaners on your fireplace doors, as they can damage the finish and release toxic fumes if heated.

9. Smell of Natural Gas

A gas leak can occur in any appliance in your home that burns gas. If you notice the smell of natural gas, exit your home. Call the gas company to turn off the gas supply to your house. We offer emergency gas line repairs for fireplaces. The gas may be leaking inside or outside your home. If the problem is with the gas log or fireplace, we can fix the problem. If we don’t find any issues with your gas fireplace, it’s possible that your gas furnace, water heater, oven, clothes dryer or other gas-powered system in your home is malfunctioning and in need of professional repairs.

10. Carbon Monoxide Alarm Sounds

Every home with natural gas service needs to have a carbon monoxide detector installed on each level and outside each bedroom. Carbon monoxide is a toxic byproduct of the combustion process. Your fireplace’s ventilation system should allow the carbon monoxide to safely exit your home. However, a problem with the ventilation equipment or flue could allow the toxic gas to seep into your living space. Exposure to low levels of carbon monoxide may cause you to feel tired, achy or sick, as if you had the flu. Higher levels of carbon monoxide exposure may cause headaches, shortness of breath and mental confusion. If the level of carbon monoxide continues to build, it may cause loss of consciousness or death. If your carbon monoxide alarm goes off, open the windows. Exit your home. Take your pets with you. Call for emergency gas fireplace repairs.

Not in need of gas fireplace repairs? We also offer heating and air conditioning installation, replacement, repair and maintenance. Our duct cleaning, indoor air quality, electrical and water heater services keep your home comfortable, healthy and efficient all year long. To learn more about common gas fireplace problems or to schedule an appointment, contact us at Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning today.