Pilot Light Won't Stay Lit in Gas Fireplace
My gas fireplace had been working fine until today...when I went to turn the knob to light the pilot light, it lit; however, after I turned to knob counterclockwise like I always do to actually turn the fireplace on, it will not light. The pilot light immediately goes out as soon as I begin to turn the knob.
This "knob" I'm referring to has to be pressed in and turned to light the pilot light (I do not keep it lit because I do not use the gas fireplace all of the time), then, once the pilot light is lit, I have to "de-press" it and turn it to get the fireplace lit. I
I'd like to try some things on my own to fix it before calling someone out to look at it. Thanks!
Sounds like you did all you can do. You should call a pro before you loose your eyebrows.
“Now the freaks are on television, the freaks are in the movies. And it’s no longer the sideshow, it’s the whole show. The colorful circus and the clowns and the elephants, for all intents and purposes, are gone, and we’re dealing only with the freaks.” - Jonathan Winters
First of all, the fireplace was designed with a standing pilot so that when you turn it on it's warm and ready to go. The cost of the pilot could be $3-$5 per month (give or take) and is not necessary to leave it on in the summer. But the fact that you leave it off over the winter tells me that your cheapness has clouded your judgement. You thought processes puts you in the 2% bracket of radical fireplace owners that only lite the pilot when they want heat. The fact that we know you don't want to use things the way they are designed is disturbing and can be very dangerous. For this reason I decline any advice except for you to ask your family and friends if there are other examples of how you step of dollars to pick up pennies. Maybe evaulate other aspects of your life to see if other dangers exist with your vehicle, work habits, or household repairs (plumbing, electrical, gas, etc).
Ps. Call a qualified fireplace tech for repairs.
My family and I aren't down in the lower floor of our house much, so this is why I don't keep the pilot light lit (our fireplace is on the lower level and we do not have central heat down there...only the fireplace). I did not know that I SHOULD keep the pilot light on all winter (I didn't have this house built...I moved into it). Also, I'm a single mother with 2 young children, so I pinch pennies A LOT. I am really good at fixing things myself around the house, INCLUDING plumbing. I will call a tech to come out and look at it.
Originally Posted by natgastech
I know of no reason why people ought to leave a pilot light lit if they are willing to light it when they want to use the fireplace. As far as I'm concerned, such people ARE using the equipment the way it's designed.
Have you ever seen an owner's manual that recommended that the pilot be left lit all the time? I have not.
Originally Posted by natgastech
the cost to run a pilot is more like $10-$15 per month and a standing pilot uses 9.3 million BTU's a year.
The purpose of a pilot is to keep the venting warmed and primed. On an insert a thermal blockage can occur if the pilot is being lit for the first time. On a direct vent the pilot keeps the vent warm enough to balance the flue gases and as well so the snow doesn't build up. People can do what they want and I make the most money because they decide to turn it off. I also can't believe it costs $10-15/ mth unless Hearthman agrees.
Just my .02$, I am sure that anyone here that has worked on gas fireplaces has seen where spiders have built nests in the pilot assembly or the pilot orfice has become clogged with rust and a homeowner has damaged a regulator or control valve by trying to fix that blockage themselves.
I am not sure what others charge for that kind of service call, but my charge is MUCH more than the cost of gas to run the pilot for 4 months a year.
If a pilot uses 1500 BTU / hr, according to my last gas bill it would cost me $11.34 to run a pilot on a 30 day month.
Personally I recommend people leave the pilot on all the time. Keeps some of the crud and corrosion out of the pilot assembly. Also it seems to help keep some moisture out thus preventing the whole firebox from rusting up.
kwoo: Sounds like you are familiar with lighting your pilot. If it wont stay lit then you most likely need parts. You should get a full checkup done on the fireplace and they should replace that part in the process. If you look under the fireplace you should be able to find a brand, find that brands webpage and use their dealer locator to find the one nearest you.
Originally Posted by natgastech
I guess if snow has built up over the vent pipe you'd need to clear it off before using the equipment. The rest of your arguments in favor of leaving the pilot lit I consider conjecture.
The bottom line is that no fireplace manufacturer I know of recommends keeping the pilot lit all the time.
A lot of people around here turn pilots off during the summer out of a desire to save gas consumption and avoid nuisance heating of living space during the summer.
Personally, I make no effort todiscourage that. Some people can't get the pilot lit for various reasons and need my services, but usually the fireplace is overdue for service anyway.
Regarding insects ---
Yes, spiders nesting in main burner orifices are occasionally a problem around here ---I usually find that 3-4 times per year. Perhaps keeping the pilot lit would avoid that problem. But it's rare enough that I don't discourage people who want to turn the pilot off.
standing verus intermittent pilot costs
A simple thermocouple standing pilot usually consumes about 600-800 BTU/Hr.
A thermopile pilot about 800-1200
a quick dropout TC & TP pilot consumes about 1,400
an Intellifire IPI consumes about 1400-1600 while burning
an ODS pilot consumes about 1600 BTU/hr.
Take these BTU/hr figures to your utility and have them help calculate the actual cost based on current prices. Then, run a high and low so you can give a realistic range to your customers. Do it for NG and LP.
If you want to measure the pilot output, go to Bacharach's Training Room for a simple tutorial on clocking a meter. Just make sure you have everything else in the house off and you've done a leakdown test before hand. Otherwise, if there is a leak, you'll get a false high reading. Understand meters are only just so accurate. Also, see if it is temperature compensating. If not, you would need to correct it.
Thermocouples last longer if kept on much like a diesel engine. HHT recommends it. It's the on and off that work hardens the metal causing eventual failure. Also, during the summer with direct vents, you will get a lot of moisture condensation in the unit and thus corrosion. The unit won't last as long. Of course, the biggy is spiders. Not a warrantied repair.
I would think Blueflame's figures are pretty close depending upon what you pay for fuel.
Keep in mind, the first job of any pilot is flame proving. If you don't have a reliable source of ignition going inside the combustion chamber but you do have fuel entering it with air, that's a recipe for a bomb. Next, is piloted ignition of the main burner flame so you don't have to reach in with long matches. On direct vents, you get the added bonus of vent priming as NGtech mentioned. On some units, this can be substantial. Some people actually want that little bit of heat behind the glass because without it, they feel cold. Therefore, HHT incorporated an override feature so you can make an IPI into a standing pilot, which they call their Cold Climate option.
So, you must have an electronic ignition in Calif. to conserve energy. At least until you fire up that flame thrower vented logset in the open fireplace that sucks all the heated air out of the home! Kinda' reminds me of the low gallonage per flush toilets. While they are less than one gallon per flush, it takes several flushes to do the job.
Keep the fire inside the fireplace.
One other thing that may be helpful is remembering to hold the control knob in for a long enough duration once the pilot light is ignited as you will need to bleed any air from the line. This can be a substantial time depending upon the setup and length of the line to the pilot (flex hose etc). I was advised by my installer that for me that time is at least 60 seconds (of press and hold once the pilot is lit) until I can release it and have the pilot remain lit. 60 seconds can be a long time while you're holding in that control valve, especially if its a bit out of the way, as mine is.
Just thought I would throw that out there in case your issue is simply that your pilot isn't catching and staying because the line isn't primed.
Kwoo, I applaud your search for a fix for your pilot ignition failure as well as your effort to save money and conserve energy. $15.00 a month
for pilot gas along with associated greenhouse emmissions are significant and you should be congratulated for expending elbow grease to conserve.
We are all grateful for the excellent experienced advice from the pros in this thread. You already handled the nasty reply. The gas control that
regulates the pilot and main gas is a very cool device (you can google White Rogers or http://home.howstuffworks.com/pilot-light.htm to see how it
works) but because of explosive dangers, it is best to follow the advice here to call in a contractor. Though there is a decent chance that the
thermocouple is bad and it is an inexpensive part (you could trace down through web or local appliance outlets) that you could replace yourself
without having to tamper with any of the gas circuits if you have reliable documentation on the unit. In interest of safety, I wouldn't try anything
beyond that. Keep searching and saving. Good Luck