Solving Gas Fireplace Issues

Of all the different types of fuel people use to power their fireplaces, gas is one of the most popular. A quality gas fireplace offers accurate temperature control, clean combustion, low maintenance and, with the advances in ceramic log designs, a fire that is amazingly similar in visual appeal to a traditional wood fire.

This doesn’t mean that gas fireplaces never have issues, so let’s look at a few common ones and how homeowners can resolve them. We’ll talk about soot and pilot light issues, fireplace burner issues, odours, noises and glass fireplace doors. So let’s dive into solving gas fireplace issues.

Enviro Q3 Gas Fireplace | Friendlyfires.ca
Enviro Q3 Gas Fireplace

Excess soot buildup

While top rated gas fireplaces and fireplace inserts burn much more cleanly than wood fires, over time a buildup of soot is inevitable. It’s not always easy to see soot with the naked eye, so take a white cloth and rub it on some of the ceramic logs in the firebox. (Do this when no fire is burning!) If the cloth comes up with thick black marks across it, you know you have the beginning of a soot issue.

Excess soot happens for two primary reasons:

Badly positioned logs – if logs aren’t positioned properly, an even burn is impossible and some amount of fuel will go unburned.


Clogged burner ports – this will cause the same effect as badly positioned logs. Have a professional perform a thorough cleaning of the logs and burner ports.


Aside from the suggestions above, there are a few other things you can do to prevent a buildup of soot.

Regularly inspect the combustion screen. If you find a moderate or major amount of soot, clean it according to instructions provided by the manufacturer.


Check your chimney for any debris that might be creating an obstruction. This can include leaves, twigs, bird nests and anything else than can reduce air flow.


Make sure your damper is completely open and in good repair.

Pilot light problems

Problems with pilot lights are among the most common issues with gas fireplaces. This light is kept lit by a small source of gas and is how combustion is initiated within the fireplace. If your pilot light goes off, you won’t be able to start a fire. It could also be dangerous.

If you notice that your pilot light is out, first check to determine if the gas supply is still on. If it is, it’s likely that a sudden draft blew the light out. If there is no gas supply, then you have to find out why that is.

There may be a problem with the line that brings gas into the house from an outdoor tank or underground pipes. If you suspect this is the case, don’t try to diagnose and fix the problem yourself. Contact a fireplace service technician. Another reason for no gas is that your tank (assuming you use one) is empty. If you receive gas through a utility company, it’s possible there is a temporary outage somewhere along the utility’s lines.

A component known as a thermopile may be the reason gas is not flowing to the fireplace. These devices need to be replaced every few years. An indication of a problem with the thermopile is if the pilot light “almost” lights but quickly goes out again.

A final cause of pilot light problems could be faulty wiring. Inspect for wires that are lose, damaged, melted or in any other way abnormal. As with many aspects of gas fireplace maintenance and repair, you’re advised to seek professional help for wiring issues.

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Strange odours

Under proper operating conditions, your gas fireplace should never create a smell in the room or the home. The most important odor to be alert to is that of the gas itself.

If you smell gas coming from even the best gas fireplace or fireplace inserts, that means gas is escaping somewhere and not being turned into fire. This can be a dangerous situation. Don’t try to troubleshoot and fix this problem yourself – rather, call the fire department immediately and evacuate the house.

Another reason for fireplace odors is dust and pet dander that gets into the firebox and onto the fireplace’s internal components. This problem usually appears only with non-vented fireplaces that have glass doors that don’t seal properly.

Hazy glass

Over time, glass fireplace doors can become hazy and dirty. This greatly reduces the aesthetic appeal of a roaring fire. Pay a visit to your local hearth store and ask about special fireplace door cleaning solutions. Never use an ammonia-based window cleaner on fireplace doors.

Weird noises

A gas fireplace should make little if any noise. If you hear new sounds – and especially if they’re happening in conjunction with operating problems – you need to look into it.

Here are a few common noise problems:

Dirty burners will often cause a sound similar to rumbling. If this is happening, contact a professional to perform a through cleaning of your burners.


If your fireplace has a fan or blower, a grinding noise or a high-pitched whistling sound usually indicates a problem with these components. Determine if the problem can be repaired or if the component needs replacing.


A subtle roaring sound probably means the flame on your pilot light needs adjusting.
Fireplace burners

Often when a fireplace burner isn’t working, it’s because of an issue with the thermostat. Before contacting a service technician, make sure that your thermostat is set higher than the temperature in the room.

It’s important when you have burner issues that you turn to a professional with experience in this area. There are a variety of reasons for a burner to stop performing properly, and this isn’t an area most homeowners are qualified to troubleshoot.

Common fireplace burner problems include unattached, damaged or otherwise faulty wiring; a dirty pilot light orifice that no longer works efficiently; and a thermocoupler that is worn and needs replacing.

The bottom line

The bottom line in addressing gas fireplace problems is to not attempt to do something you’re not capable of doing. Most repair jobs require the skills of a trained fireplace technician.

If you’re ready to move up to a beautiful gas fireplace, Friendly Fires has a wide selection and experienced representatives who can point you in the right direction. We have five locations throughout southern Ontario, please get in touch or drop in for a consultation.

Looking for replacement parts for your gas fireplace, stove, or insert?
We have thousands of parts in stock!

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