How To Light a Gas Fireplace

Ready for a cozy evening by the fire, but not sure how to light your gas fireplace? This project shows you how.

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Less than 10 minutes






Roaring wood fires certainly deliver in ambiance. But for some, gathering kindling, wadding up newspapers, carefully arranging logs and everything else required to start a wood fire aren't worth the trouble, because there's an easier option — a gas-powered fireplace.

"We love gas fireplaces because the aesthetic and warmth are immediate," Keith Richardson, president of Arizona Fireplaces says. "(Gas) lends itself well to today's modern lifestyle."

If you're thinking about investing in a gas fireplace, or you have one but aren't sure how to light it, this project will give you more confidence. We address key valve and pilot ignition systems.

Safety should be top of mind when lighting natural gas or propane-fueled fireplaces. If you smell gas before lighting your fireplace, contact a plumber or the gas company right away. "The average consumer will not have the proper tools to check for a gas leak," Richardson says. "A gas company or certified technician will."

And if these steps don't match your particular setup, ask for help. "With gas fireplaces, one size does not fit all — when in doubt, contact a professional," Richardson says.


Tools Required

  • Fireplace lighter or long matches

Project step-by-step (7)

Step 1

Find the valve and key

  • Look for a valve near the fireplace.
    • Mine is covered by a round plate with a square hole.
  • Find the key to turn the gas valve.
    • Keys are long metal devices with a square hole on the end, similar to a socket extension.
  • Fit the key into the valve, but don’t turn the gas on yet.

Fireplace Key And ValveAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 2

Open the damper

  • Look up into the chimney to see if the damper is open.
    • You’ll have to lean way in, so you may need your phone or a mirror.
    • If it’s open, you’ll see the sky. (Do this during the day if it’s your first time.)
  • If the damper is closed, pull the chain or lever, usually at the top of the firebox.
  • Make note of the lever’s position for next time.

Fireplace Open Damper Ally Childress for Family Handyman

Step 3

Look for the burner

  • Follow the gas pipe coming into the fireplace from the wall valve to the burner.
    • The burner is a pipe with holes running under your logs, often with a pan underneath.
    • The burner and pan may be covered with sand and fireplace rocks.

Fireplace BurnerAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 4

Light the fireplace (key valve system)

  • Light the lighter or match and hold under the logs near the burner.
  • Turn the key slowly counterclockwise to start the flow of gas.
    • The fire should immediately catch. If it doesn’t, turn off the gas before trying to troubleshoot.
    • Call a professional if you suspect a gas line problem.
  • Use the key to control the flame height. Remove key.
  • Shut off by inserting key and turning clockwise until gas valve is closed.
    • Fire will extinguish when gas flow stops.

Fireplace Light With LighterAlly Childress for Family Handyman

Step 5

Find the controls (pilot ignition system)

  • Locate the gas valve.
    • The valve might be inside the fireplace instead of on the wall.
  • Locate the pilot light and burner control knobs.
    • These could be under the fireplace logs or to the side.
    • You may need to open a panel cover.

Senior man adjusting heat on gas fire at homecoldsnowstorm/Getty Images

Step 6

Prepare to light the fireplace (pilot ignition system)

  • Check that the pilot control knob is set to “off.”
    • If it’s on, turn it to off and allow five to 10 minutes for any residual gas to disperse.
  • Turn on the gas valve to start the flow of gas to your pilot assembly.
  • Turn the control knob to “pilot.”

fireplace LightersEmBaSy/Getty Images

Step 7

Light the fireplace (pilot ignition system)

  • Push in and hold the pilot control knob.
  • Click the igniter button to light the pilot.
    • This may take a few clicks if your fireplace hasn’t been used in a while.
    • If your fireplace lacks an igniter button, light the pilot manually with a fireplace lighter.
  • After the pilot lights, continue to hold in the pilot button for 20 to 30 seconds.
  • Release the button. If the flame holds, turn the control knob to “on.”
  • Control the flame level with the control knob or wall switch.
  • Shut off by turning control valve to “off” or turning off at wall switch.
  • Turn off gas at the valve. Make sure you’re aware of these tips for indoor gas fireplace safety.

Closeup of Logs Burning in a Gas Fireplaceryasick/Getty Images