A gas fireplace emulates a real fireplace while burning either propane or natural gas instead of wood. There are two types of gas fireplaces. Some are vented and some are ventless. Vented gas fireplaces are very realistic looking; however there is as much as 90% heat loss since much of it goes up your chimney. The ventless type is designed to operate without a chimney and is very efficient; however it isn't quite as realistic looking as the vented type. So if you just want the look without worrying about wood or heat a vented model will do, but if you want to supplement your current heating system with an appliance which will not require electricity to work once lit and can be manually lit if necessary then the ventless model is the better choice.
Common Problems with Gas Fireplaces
Pilot Light Won't Light: There are a bunch of issues that might keep the pilot from lighting. First check to see if the fuel valve supply to the appliance is in the open position. If it isn't then open it and try to light the pilot. Next, check to see if the emergency shutoff valve is "on" and if it isn't turn it on and try to light the pilot. If you use propane check to see if your propane tank is empty, ensure the appliance setting is on pilot. If it isn't, then set it to pilot and try to light the pilot. Check your instruction manual to ensure you are holding the match in the right place. Hold the reset button down when lighting and ensure you are holding it down long enough to activate the electromagnet in the safety shutoff system, which is 30-60 seconds. If you still can't light the pilot, call a professional.
Pilot Light Lit but Gas Jet Won't Light: Sometimes this happens because the control is not on the "On" setting, or because the thermostat is not set for heat. The solution is to check to see if the valve and remote control are on and check the thermostat to ensure its set to the on position. Also check that the temperature is set to a degree that is above the current temperature in the room. If neither of these solutions fixes the problem it may be caused by a blockage in the orifice or burner. A service call is needed to have a professional fix the problem.
Soot in your room: This is somewhat common on vented gas fireplaces and may indicate an inadequate vent or chimney. The solution is to ensure the damper is open enough. If it is then you should clean the vent or chimney. If you get soot in your room with a ventless gas fireplace it is installed improperly. The solution is to have a professional fix the problem.
Prevention of Gas Fireplace Problems
This troubleshooting article was submitted with permission by Highs Chimney Sweep