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Gas Fireplace Keeps Turning Itself On? Top 5 Causes + Fixes

Gas fireplaces are more efficient than traditional wood-burning fireplaces, but some mechanical concerns can hinder their performance. If your fireplace turns on and off by itself, it can be quite frustrating. The good news is that there are several causes and solutions to repair your gas fireplace.

A gas fireplace keeps turning itself on for the following reasons:

  • Remote problems
  • Thermostat issues
  • Broken thermopile firing
  • Bad timer wiring
  • Damaged wall switch

In this post, we’ll talk about the five primary causes of a gas fireplace that activates on its own and what you can do about it.

Faulty Remote Issues

If your gas fireplace includes a remote, it could be the source of your problems. These remotes are made for convenience, but bad batteries, faulty wiring, and sticky buttons can quickly turn them into a nuisance. Before you can find out why the remote causes the fireplace to turn on by itself, you’ll have to know which part is causing the problem.

So, how can a remote turn on a gas fireplace by itself?

  • Bad wiring can trigger the fireplace when the remote is moved.
  • Sticky buttons sometimes stay pushed in, turning on the fireplace.
  • If the batteries are running low, they’ll have random power surges.

We’ll discuss a few solutions below.

How to Fix

To fix your gas fireplace’s remote, try these tips:

  • If the remote has faulty wiring, replace the remote. Fireplace remotes are relatively inexpensive. Rewiring the remote means you have to send it back to the company and wait for them to repair it. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and frustration by contacting the manufacturer and getting the correct remote for your fireplace.
  • If the buttons are sticky, you can clean around them with a toothpick or paperclip. Move the button to one side and slowly remove excess gunk between the buttons. Drink spills, dust, crumbs, and other debris can jam the buttons and turn on the fireplace.
  • Use a multimeter to test the batteries and replace them if they don’t have enough power in them. Ensure you install high-quality batteries to prevent electrical shorts and constant replacements.

Malfunctioning Thermostat

If you have an automatic fireplace that adjusts with the room’s temperature, it has a built-in thermostat. The thermostat’s job is to trigger the fireplace whenever the temperature gets too low. It maintains the room at a comfortable setting, but the thermostat can experience a handful of issues that could malfunction.

Whether there’s a loose connection or the thermostat needs to be replaced, it won’t go away on its own. Thermostats are crucial components for gas and electric fireplaces. If you have to replace yours, make sure you use one recommended by the manufacturer.

How to Fix

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Turn off the fireplace and flip the circuit breaker to prevent it from sparking.
  2. Close the gas valve leading to the fireplace.
  3. Remove the front panel and locate the thermostat.
  4. Remove the screws and wires from the thermostat, labeling them by their location as you go.
  5. Contact the company for a new thermostat based on the make and model.
  6. Mount the thermostat with the previously removed wires and screws, then close the front panel.
  7. Turn on the gas and breaker, then turn on the fireplace to ensure it works.

Bad Thermopile Firing

The thermopile’s job is to allow gas through the system. When it triggers, the gas goes through and lights with a spark. Kozy Heat explains the thermopile pairs with a thermocouple to decide when the fireplace should be on or off. As you could imagine, either component malfunctioning could turn the fireplace on without warning.

Fortunately, you can test and replace the thermopile and thermocouple on your gas fireplace. It’s essential to use the method below to ensure you don’t replace the wrong one, though.

How to Fix

The thermopile is a thick metal rod with two wires coming off of it. They can be tested for power with a multimeter. If they read 0 volts, the thermopile needs to be replaced.

The thermocouple is a thin rod with a copper tube leading to the gas line. If it’s clogged or the gas isn’t going through it, it’s time to replace it.

Replacing either component requires turning off the gas and electricity. Place the new part as recommended by the manufacturer in the corresponding slot, then tighten the loose hardware.

Here’s a helpful tutorial to identify and test your fireplace’s thermopile and thermocouple:

Wall Timers Trigger the Fireplace

If your gas fireplace is attached to a wall timer (through an outlet or internal wiring), the timer might be at fault. A broken wall timer randomly triggers the gas fireplace to turn on. The timer thinks it’s at the correct setting, temperature, or time, but it’s not. This common issue can make your fireplace turn on in the morning instead of the night or at incorrect temperatures.

How to Fix

Test your fireplace’s timer by plugging the appliance directly into the wall without a timer. If it doesn’t turn on randomly, replace the timer. Fireplace timers are typically replaced by getting a new clock to go between the plug and the outlet. However, we suggest reviewing the user’s manual for your fireplace’s specific instructions.

Broken Wall Switch

Much like a wall timer, a wall switch can become problematic. Home Arise shows how a damaged switch can turn on the fireplace without your input. It can get stuck in place, have loose wiring, and so on. You’ll have to determine if the issue lies in the switch or the wiring between the switch and the gas fireplace.

How to Fix

If your gas fireplace is wired to a faulty wall switch, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off the circuit breaker.
  2. Remove the mounting screws from the switch.
  3. Disconnect the two to four wires on the back of the switch, labeling them for correct placement.
  4. Purchase and install a similar wall switch, wiring the two to four wires to the corresponding locations.
  5. Drill the mounting screws, turn on the circuit breaker, and test the switch by turning it on.

Author

  • Steve Rajeckas

    Steve Rajeckas is an HVAC hobbyist with an avid interest in learning innovative ways to keep rooms, buildings, and everything else at the optimal temperature. When he's not working on new posts for Temperature Master, he can be found reading books or exploring the outdoors.

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