How To Light A Gas Fireplace Without An Ignitor

Ossiana Tepfenhart
by Ossiana Tepfenhart

When you first got your fireplace, you probably were wondering how to use it. This is particularly true with ignition. You might have had an ignitor in your design, or you might not have. Either way, when you want to use a fireplace and don’t seem to have a proper way to light it, it can be frustrating. So, what can you do?

Most modern gas fireplaces will have an ignitor, and you should use it if you have one. If your ignitor is broken, make sure to get your fireplace serviced prior to your next session. With that said, you can always light a gas fireplace by holding the pilot light down and lighting a match. Once it’s been lit, you can turn your fireplace to its “ON” setting.

Like with any other issue regarding fire, there’s a right way to do this and a wrong way to do this. If you do it the wrong way, you will get explosive results. This guide will help walk you through the steps and help you avoid being blown to smithereens.

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Before You Begin: Understanding Safety Rules

When you’re tinkering around with your fireplace, it’s easy to think that you’re safe due to all of the features geared towards fire safety you have built into your system. However, you should not let that fool you into a sense of false security. Fireplaces are still dangerous. When you’re following this guide, keep these rules in mind:

  • Always check your owner’s manual to see if they have instructions on how to light your fireplace without an ignitor. If you can’t find an owners manual, check the data plate on the bottom of your fireplace to find the model and look it up online. This is the easiest and safest way to make sure that you do things properly.
  • If you smell gas before you even remove the faceplate, don’t light anything. You may have a gas leak and that needs to be addressed immediately. If you suspect a gas leak, you should call the police and leave the home.
  • Never try to light a fireplace that you believe is broken. A broken fireplace is a dangerous fireplace, even if it has failsafes built into it.
  • Check local building codes first. Some areas will not allow you to light a fireplace with a broken ignitor. Doing so will make your building go against code and could impact insurance payouts if you try to file a claim due to a fire accident.
  • Remember that using your gas fireplace improperly will always run the risk of having a fire accident. This is why we don’t suggest that you use a fireplace with a busted ignition switch. It’s just bad form and could potentially lead to problems with your fireplace.

Should You Repair Your Ignitor First?

Ignitors fail once in a while, especially during cold weather. However, I’m of the school of thought that believes in being safe rather than sorry. Ideally, you’ll fix your ignitor before you light your fire. It’s just the safe thing to do, even if there is a workaround. If you can delay lighting a fire for even one day, repair the ignitor.

How To Use The Instructions In This Article

The best way to use them is to use them as a backup for the instructions followed up in your owner’s manual, and as a backup for fixing your ignitor. Any instructions or warnings that you read in your owner’s manual should supersede whatever I’m saying here, simply because doing the wrong thing with your fireplace can have explosive results—literally.

Lighting Your Fireplace Without An Ignitor

Now that you’ve read all my caveats and warnings, let’s start talking about lighting a fireplace without an ignitor. Here’s what you’re going to need to do:

  • Remove the fireplace’s faceplate so that you can get clear access to the pilot light and ignition switches below. Each fireplace model will have its own steps to this, so just do what works for your model.
  • Check the breaker. If your fireplace has a circuit breaker, check for any tripped circuits that may have caused your fireplace to stop working. Put any tripped breakers back to their standard position.
  • Test the piezo. The piezo is the ignitor switch per the instructions in your owner’s manual. See if it clicks or makes any sound that is indicative of working. If it can be used manually, use the piezo to light your fire. If it’s not working, continue on to the next steps.
  • Remove the glass in your fireplace. You will need to access the gas area. This would be a good time to clean the glass of any soot that you might have.
  • Turn the gas on at the lowest setting and press your pilot button down. Press the pilot button down, you’ll start to hear the gas running. It’s a mild hiss.
  • Light a match near the fire’s piping, while holding down the pilot lighter. You will need to hold your pilot button for the allotted time that your owner’s manual suggests.
  • Switch the pilot switch to the “on” setting. The fire should be lit. You can turn up the gas at this point, since the pilot is now good to go.
  • Replace the faceplate and glass shield on your fireplace. Do this gently and carefully, as it’s possible to get burned.

What Kind Of Matches Should You Use To Light Your Fireplace?

You don’t necessarily want to go for short matches (like the ones that you use to light a cigarette) because it’s easy to drop them in your fireplace. This, in turn, can damage your fireplace and increase your risk of a fire accident. If you choose to use matches, go for long matches that are made for turning on fireplaces or gas stoves.

If you want to be a little more safety-conscious, I’d suggest a lighter gun. This will give you extra distance away from the fireplace and also help you maintain a grip on your fire source. If you have one leftover from your outdoor grilling days, then that would be a perfect accompaniment for your lighting kit.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Your Ignitor?

This can vary depending on the company, but the majority of companies have an hourly rate they charge. A typical fireplace repair crew will charge between $100 to $165 per hour. Fixing an ignitor or switching it out is a relatively quick process, which means you should expect to pay for a single hour (or less) plus the parts.

An ignitor replacement will usually cost around $150 to $250, depending on the model. To get a better idea of how much an ignitor will cost for your model, search for replacement parts online. Then, add $100 to $150 for labor to ballpark your fireplace’s repair costs more accurately.

Related Questions

Why is my gas fireplace not igniting properly?

If your fireplace lights up but doesn’t stay lit, chances are that you have a thermocouple that has gone bad. Cleaning it off may be able to fix the sensor’s ability to regulate temperature and fix it. If it’s not igniting at all, you might have a bad ignitor. This is best addressed by a professional fireplace repairman.

How do you test your piezo lighter?

The easiest way to test your piezo is to try to press it down and watch for a spark. If you see a spark light up every time that you press it down, your piezo is not the problem. If you don’t see a spark or hear a click, then you probably have a problem with your piezo. The best way to test it is to follow instructions for your specific model.

I see soot in my gas fireplace. What’s going on?

If you see soot piles at the bottom of your gas fireplace, then you probably have a blocked chimney. To fix this, call your local chimney sweep and ask for a thorough cleaning. Additionally, you should open up the flue, clean the inside of your gas fireplace, and encourage airflow to prevent additional soot from forming.

Ossiana Tepfenhart
Ossiana Tepfenhart

Ossiana Tepfenhart is an expert writer, focusing on interior design and general home tips. Writing is her life, and it's what she does best. Her interests include art and real estate investments.

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