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Gas Fireplace Takes a Long Time To Ignite? Here’s Why

You turn on your gas fireplace and wait but don’t see a flame until suddenly it ignites a few seconds (or maybe minutes) later. This is a problem because as long as the fireplace is turned on but not burning, gas is filling up your room, which can potentially lead to an accident. So why is your gas fireplace taking so long to ignite?

Your gas fireplace takes a long time to ignite because of one or more of the following reasons:

  • The pilot light is too short or too long
  • The burner holes are clogged up with dirt or soot
  • Improper media placement blocking the holes on the burner
  • Strong flames blocking the gas flow through the burner
  • Problems with the gas flow
  • Draft prevents the ignition

In this article, I’ll discuss all these points so you can get a clear idea of why your gas fireplace is taking a long time to ignite. Additionally, along with each potential cause, I’ve shared how to fix them.

The Pilot Light Is Too Short or Too Long

If the flame on the pilot light is too short or too long, it might not reach the sensors or the burner, which can cause a delay in the ignition. 

Depending on how hot the pilot light is burning, it might not provide the right temperature for the thermocouple to work. As a result, you’ll likely face issues with the ignition.

How To Fix

Most gas fireplaces will have a knob, screw, or switch that’ll let you control the strength of the pilot light. Adjust it so that it’s just the right length to cover the top of the thermocouple. 

While you’re at it, I’d also recommend using a steel wire brush to clean out dust and debris stuck inside the pilot light orifice. 

The Burner Holes Are Clogged Up With Dirt or Soot

If you don’t routinely clean your gas fireplace, soot can start to build up on the burner assembly. Additionally, with vented gas fireplaces, sometimes dust and debris can come through the vents and settle on the burners. 

As you can imagine, soot or dirt build-up on the burner holes can make it difficult for the gas to come out properly, leading to delayed ignition.

How To Fix

If you notice soot or dirt build-up on your burner assembly, simply take a steel wire brush or a regular sanding paper, and give the thing a thorough scrubbing. That said, don’t wait until the fireplace is dirty before you clean it. 

Remember, prevention is better than cure. As such, give your gas fireplace a good cleaning and service it at least once a year, preferably pre-winter.

Improper Media Placement Blocking the Holes on the Burner

Does your gas fireplace have media elements like fake logs or coals on top of it? It’s a cool way to make your gas fireplace look more authentic and aesthetically pleasing. 

That said, the media elements are big, heavy, and made using ceramic or other non-combustible materials. If any media elements fall onto the burner assembly or are directly placed over the burner, it can block the holes and cause problems with the ignition.

How To Fix

If you think that your gas fireplace media is blocking the burner holes and causing the delayed ignition, just rearrange the media elements such that it’s not touching the burner assembly. 

I suggest getting a dedicated tray for holding the media elements above the burner, leaving enough room for the gas and flames to come out.

Strong Flames Blocking the Gas Flow Through the Burner

When you say your gas fireplace ignition is delayed, do you mean that the front of the burner starts a flame quickly, but it takes a long time for the flame to engulf the entire assembly? 

This happens when not enough gas flows through the burner. 

The low amount of incoming gas is used up at the start of the burner to create a strong flame. A small amount of gas does pass through the assembly, which ultimately ignites the rest of the fireplace (eventually all of it), but it takes a lot of time.

How To Fix

  1. Uninstall the burner assembly and take it out of the fireplace. Give it a thorough cleaning. 
  2. Scrub the burner holes, and make sure there’s nothing inside the piping. You can use an air compressor to blow air inside the piping to dislodge any obstructions.

If there was an issue in the burners that affected the gas flow, this should solve it.

Problems With the Gas Flow

A delayed ignition in a gas fireplace can suggest problems with the gas flow. 

For example, if your gas tank is running low, it’ll decrease the pressure, thereby reducing the gas flow.

Alternatively, there’s also the possibility that your gas supply pipe is damaged. If that’s the case, gas will leak through the pipe and reduce the amount that actually reaches the burner.

How To Fix

If your gas fireplace is hooked up with a propane tank, make sure it has enough gas. If not, fill it up.

Here’s a short YouTube video on how to check the propane level in your tank:

Next, check the gas supply pipe. If you notice a dent or smell gas, it’s probably damaged. In this case, you should call in a technician to replace the piping. 

Draft Prevents the Ignition

Do you have a vented gas fireplace? If so, then a draft from the chimney or vent can cause problems with the ignition.

First of all, a strong draft can blow out the pilot light, in which case your gas fireplace won’t ignite.

Secondly, a steady draft can also displace the gas and blow out a fire that’s just forming. Only when the draft stops can the fire start, giving the impression of a delayed ignition.

How To Fix

If an incoming draft through the chimney is making it difficult for you to start your gas fireplace, I suggest closing the damper when starting the fireplace and then opening it when the fire is lit.

You can also try installing fireplace draft stoppers, specifically designed to prevent chimneys from sucking in cold outside air.

Important: Don’t keep the damper closed when the fireplace is on, or the harmful by-products will fill your room.

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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