Typical Problems when Running a Gas Fireplace
Before going into details, it is good to know that gas fireplaces are generally very low maintenance and fail only rarely. However, as with any appliance which is in constant use, sometimes problems do occur. Whenever serious repairs are required or safety relevant features of your gas fireplace are affected, the work should be left to a licensed professional. Still, most problems concerning gas fireplaces are solved rather easily. Therefore, it is good to know some simple gas fireplace repair tips which will help you to solve these issues by yourself. What, then, are the main troubles with gas fireplaces?
First, the pilot light may refuse to start or go out again quickly after the ignition has been turned off. This could be due to an inverse draft (down draft) in the chimney caused by obstructions in the air flow, either at the top of the vent or at the exit from the firebox. Or, it could be due to a problem related to the thermocouple which works as a safety shut-off for the gas valve. Any kind of electric problem (loose wiring, shorts in the system) or mechanical difficulties (broken screws or excessive dirt on the thermocouple) could be the cause.
If the main burner does not work, it is most likely due to a valve malfunction caused by a defective thermopile. The thermopile is a collection of thermocouples which generates a higher voltage in the millivolt range to power the main gas valve. The situation here is identical to the problems described above concerning the smaller thermocouple – any kind of electric or mechanical failure could trigger this behavior.
Finally, soot and dirt can collect in the gas fireplace insert itself or in the chimney. This problem is usually only noticed upon close visual inspection or because of the presence of an unpleasant odor when the gas fire is burning. It is almost always due to a flame burning far too rich, meaning that not enough air is being supplied to the burner leading to an incomplete combustion.
All of these problems can usually be solved without professional help. However, in case of doubt, it is always recommended to involve a specialist with the appropriate experience.