Why Does My Electric Fireplace Turn On by Itself?


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Electric fireplaces are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners. They are safe, energy-efficient, and produce no fumes. However, they are not immune to problems. Like all electrical devices, they can have some faulty components. 

Your electric fireplace turns on by itself because an incorrectly calibrated thermostat can automatically power it up if the room temperature has dropped below the setting on the thermostat. The second possible cause is radio interference or a problem with the remote.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), electrical malfunctions are the second leading cause of home fires. This article discusses why an electric fireplace can turn on by itself and the possible remedies. Continue reading to find out more about this problem and how to fix the issue.

Why an Electric Fireplace Lights Itself

For an electric fireplace to work, you must plug-in power and turn on the socket. Next, you must switch on the fireplace and turn on the flame dial. Only then can the electric fireplace turn by itself. Here are four possible reasons for this problem.

Factor #1: Incorrect Thermostat Setting

Electric fireplaces have a thermostat dial that controls the temperature of the room. It essentially works like the AC. Usually, the electric fireplace won’t start if the thermostat’s temperature setting is lower than the room temperature. Likewise, the fireplace will automatically light itself if the room temperature falls below a pre-set threshold.

For instance, if you set the thermostat dial at 29°C (84°F) in winter, the fireplace will keep warming the room until that temperature is attained. Once the room temperature is reached, the heater goes off. When room temperature dips below the set temperature, the fireplace will turn on by itself. 

Factor #2: Remote Control Interference

A malfunctioning remote control is another reason why your electric fireplace can spontaneously turn on by itself. Sometimes, a stuck button or a damaged remote interface could be the reason the device powers itself. Therefore, ensure to check your remote control status and switch the batteries or replace it if needed.

Factor #3: Wall Switch Issues

If you don’t use a remote for your fireplace, then chances are your wall switch is the reason your fireplace turns on by itself. Loose connections or power surges could affect the switch’s circuit board, thus making your electric fireplace light up by itself.

Factor #4: Faulty Wiring

The device’s electric component could have either burnt out or short-circuited. This causes miscommunicating between the remote interface and the fireplace receiver. Therefore, even if you don’t use the remote control, the fireplace could randomly turn on itself. 

What To Do After an Electric Fireplace Turns On by Itself?

Witnessing your electric fireplace spontaneously light up can be a spooky experience. However, like most faulty household devices, an electric fireplace might light up by itself. 

If you notice your electric fireplace turn on by itself, here’s how you can fix the issue:

  • First, check your thermostat settings occasionally. Ensure that the thermostat settings are coherent with your room temperature. An incorrectly calibrated thermostat can automatically power up your electric fireplace if the room temperature has dropped below the setting on the thermostat.
  • You can turn the thermostat dial to as low as possible when you are done. That way, the room temperature can never drop low enough to trigger it. 
  • You could also troubleshoot the problem by removing your remote batteries and see if it still turns on itself. Check your remote-control status and switch the batteries or replace them if needed.
  • Try reconfiguring the remote to limit radio interference and check if there is a fault with the receiver in the fireplace itself. 
  • A better solution is to unplug the fireplace when it’s not in use.

Also, if you want to fix an electric fireplace that won’t stay on, I recommend following this eight-minute video by Mike Klimek:

Electric Fireplace Safety Tips

More than 45,000 electric fires occur each year in most American households. Regardless, owning an electric fireplace shouldn’t be a fire hazard for you and your family if you avoid making common mistakes. 

Therefore, to help keep you safe, here are a few safety tips you should incorporate. 

1. Check Your Thermostat Settings Frequently

Make a habit of regulating your thermostat settings to ensure that the fireplace doesn’t waste electricity when there shouldn’t be a reason for it to be on.

2. Ensure the Plug Is Firmly Secured

A loosely plugged-in cord can spark, causing a risk of fire or electrocution. If you hear any rattling noises, push the cord into the wall firmly.

3. Check the Air Intake Opening To Ensure It’s Not Blocked

The air take opening is an integral part of the device, which needs to be unrestricted at all times. Sometimes, something might fall into the duct, causing it to clog up.

4. Ensure That Your Electric Fireplace Is Left Unplugged When Not in Use

Unplugging the fireplace is the right way of ensuring that the device is off. Leaving it on for a prolonged time makes it susceptible to circuiting during bursts of high voltage.

5. Keep Cords Away From Furniture or Commonly Walked Areas

Having cords lying under chairs, rugs, and carpets is dangerous. Bystanders could trip or tear cables, leaving volatile electricals exposed.

6. Never Use the Fireplace in an Outdoor Area

Outdoor conditions such as snow, rain, and mist can create moisture buildup with the electrical fireplaces causing them to short-circuit or wear out.

7. Ensure Flammable Material Is Away From the Heater

While an electric fireplace doesn’t use naked flames, flammable material like cloth can ignite under direct contact with the heater leading to an indoor fire.

8. Never Plug the Electric Fireplace Into an Overloaded Extension Cord

An overloaded extension is a dangerous place to plug in your electric fireplace. It is prone to short-circuiting causing detrimental damage to your in-house electricals, and it could start a fire.

9. Keep Flammable Liquids Such As Gasoline, Alcohol, or Spirits Far From the Fireplace

Keep volatile substances far away from your electric fireplace. Direct contact with heat or electricals could ignite the liquids.

10. Keep Children or Pets Away From the Remote Control and Place It Away From the Fireplace When Not in Use

Children and pets may accidentally fiddle with remote settings causing the electric fireplace to run for longer than needed leaving it susceptible to overuse.

If you are looking for an electric fireplace, I recommend Touchstone Sideline Recessed from Amazon.com. The fireplace mimics the colors of crackling flames and has settings to adjust both the heat and flames from high to low levels. Besides, it’s designed to fit perfectly on your wall to achieve a contemporary feel.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully, you have the answers you need. An electric fireplace is a cost-effective way to heat your home without having to worry about fumes. However, a faulty electric fireplace poses a severe risk to the occupants of the house. 

Turning on by itself means it could potentially start a fire when you are away or asleep. Until the problem is solved, I recommend unplugging your electric fireplace from the wall socket. It is the safest way to deal with a fireplace that keeps lighting itself.

Remember, each electric furnace model has a different build. As such, all repairs and maintenance should be handled by someone who knows their way around a furnace. When in doubt, call in a qualified professional.

Jake Alexander

Jake is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania who enjoys writing about science and sports. When he's not writing for Temperature Master, he can be found watching the NFL or playing basketball with his friends.

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