How To Light Pilot On Gas Fireplace: Manually, With A Key, Or Control Panel

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When the weather outside chills down, few things can bring as much comfort as sitting by a warm fireplace.

Wood-burning stoves and fireplaces have been a primary heat source inside houses for many years. Gas fireplaces are also a great way to bring heat and atmosphere to a household. 

Gas fireplaces have many benefits over traditional wood-burning fireplaces. These include their relative ease of use and lack of necessary cleanup.

Gas fireplaces are an efficient way to produce heat and a low-cost option, and there are a few different types, each with its own needs and maintenance.

Every fireplace owner should understand their model and the process of how to light a pilot on a gas fireplace.

Please always refer to your gas fireplace instruction manual for complete guidance. This post is a general guide on how to light a gas fireplace, but there are so many variations that you must consider your particular model.

Types Of Gas Fireplace Ignition Systems

starting gas fireplace with key

Gas fireplaces come with three main varieties of ignition systems: match light, standing pilot, and electronic.

It’s also the same with outdoor propane gas fire pits.

Each type requires different actions to use and maintain. Figure out which type you have before learning how to start a gas fireplace.

Match Light Ignition

The simplest of the three models of fireplaces is the match light ignition gas fireplace.

This fireplace is lit by turning on the gas and holding a long match or lighter to the burner area to get a fire started. It is also the cheapest option to install and maintain.

Standing Pilot Ignition

A standing pilot is a fireplace that uses a control panel to control the pilot.

The control panel is often behind the decorative screen. A standing pilot system keeps the pilot light constantly running, but you can shut it down during the warmer months to reduce gas usage.

Electronic Ignition

Electronic ignition systems are as simple as pushing a button to light the fireplace.

These fireplaces often come with a wall-mounted switch or remote control to control the fire. Like a standing pilot, the pilot is always on but can be turned off and relit as necessary.

Many modern fireplaces and gas fire pits have electric ignition.

How To Light Pilot On Gas Fireplace

These fireplaces won’t do an owner any good if they don’t know how to turn a gas fireplace valve on or off or how to manually light a gas fireplace.

The various types of fireplaces all have a unique way to start them.

Thankfully, these methods are simple for the average owner to do, making gas fireplaces an easy way to add the comfort of a fireplace to a household.

How To Turn On A Gas Fireplace With A Wall Key

Some fireplaces come with a unique slot called a gas valve for controlling the size of the fire.

The slot will be located near the fireplace and should have a hexagonal shape. A fireplace or wall key controls the flow of gas into the fireplace.

Lighting a gas fireplace pilot light with this method requires a long lighter or match.

Place the ignited lighter or lit match next to the pilot light gas logs. Place the wall key into the gas valve and turn it toward the “on” position. It is not necessary to turn the gas fully on at this stage.

After turning it to the on position, the pilot light should quickly light. Remove the lighter or match from the fireplace, and use the gas valve to control the intensity of the fire.

How To Light A Pilot With A Control Panel

Many gas fireplaces come with a control panel that lights a pilot and fireplace without the need to have a match or lighter handy.

The control panel is typically underneath the fireplace or behind the screen. While it is still a simple process, it won’t work without following the correct procedure. 

Begin the process by locating the control panel and becoming familiar with the two knobs present.

There will be an igniter pilot knob, typically red, and a control knob used to adjust the height of the flames. Both knobs will need to be used to light the pilot on this type of fireplace.

Twist the control knob to the pilot position. Push in the gas fireplace igniter pilot knob every second to send gas into the system and light the pilot. It should take a few attempts to light the pilot.

A fireplace that has not been in use for a long period will take longer to light than one in regular use. 

Once the pilot is on, continue holding down the pilot button for 20 seconds to a minute. Different models will suggest different amounts of time for holding down the button.

Release the button after this period. If the pilot remains lit, you have successfully relit the pilot. If not, you will have to attempt to light it again.

Finish the process by turning the pilot knob to the “on” position. Use the control knob to adjust the height of the flames as desired. Then reattach the cover and enjoy the fire in the fireplace.

How To Light Gas Logs

Gas logs typically use a system with a control panel or are manually lit.

If the gas logs use a control panel, use the method above to light them. If the gas logs do not come with a control panel system, you will need to use a long lighter or match to light them.

Before beginning, it is best to remove the gas logs to reach the pilot:

  1. To begin, switch the gas valve to the pilot position – that should allow the valve to push in, releasing gas to the pilot
  2. Use a long lighter or match and light it next to the pilot, then push the gas valve in – the pilot should light instantly
  3. Remove the lighter from the gas fireplace, and hold the gas valve for approximately 20 seconds
  4. Release the valve and ensure the pilot is still burning

The gas logs can be reinserted and the gas valve can be switched to the “on” position to light the logs once the pilot has been lit.

How To Relight An Electronic Ignition System

It’s likely the pilot light has gone out if an electronic ignition system fireplace won’t start when switched on.

If the pilot of an electronic ignition system goes out, it will need to be relit using one of the previously discussed methods. It is best to consult with the owner’s manual to determine how to relight one of these fireplaces.

Turning Off A Gas Fireplace

Knowing how to operate a gas fireplace is just as crucial as knowing how to turn it off.

It can be a good idea to turn off the pilot to save on gas costs if a fireplace won’t be used for a long period. It can be beneficial in the summer when the fireplace isn’t needed.

Turning off a gas fireplace is as simple as reversing the process of turning it on. Turn the knobs to the “off” position to shut down the pilot light for fireplaces with a control panel.

For a fireplace using a fireplace key system, knowing how to turn off a gas fireplace key is all that is needed. Turn the key to the “off” position to extinguish the pilot light.

If in doubt, call for help, and don’t take any chances whether you’re talking about an indoor or outdoor fireplace.

Conclusion: How To Light Pilot On Gas Fireplace

how to turn off gas fireplace key

Using a gas fireplace is easier than most people realize, however, because of the potential danger it needs to be done correctly.

Whether you’re starting a gas fireplace with a key or lighting the gas manually, the whole process only takes a few minutes.

Many people can be afraid to install a gas fireplace because of the associated risks, but as long as it’s all done properly, and you follow the instructions, these units can be excellent for creating warmth and atmosphere.

Gas fireplace explosions are rear, but they do happen. I don’t want to put you off, but this recent explosion in New York was likely caused by a gas leak.

If you are still unsure as to whether or not a gas fireplace is right for you, electric might be better. Check out this selection of the best electric fireplaces (inserts, freestanding, wall-mounted, or for corners) to see your options.


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