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Fireplaces that use gas instead of wood to make fire.

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Why won't my gas fireplace light when I turn on the switch? Pilot on.

My gas fireplace has a wall switch to turn it on but it doesn’t work. I see the pilot light burning and the gas valve to the fireplace is on.

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my fireplace does the same thing and my husband's answer is to bang on the front of it with his fist

honestly that scares the crap out of me !! I am going to try the answers shown here, if the don't work I will call a professional !!

Thanks for help that doesnt need to involve a fist !!


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Best left to a professional but you might be able to fix simple things. The pilot light should have a small metal rod or two beside it with the flame heating them up. This is a safety system designed to keep the fireplace from lighting if the pilot light is extinguished. If the rod is too cold the fireplace won’t turn on the gas valve to light. To test where the problem might lie, use a long-nosed butane grill lighter to add additional heat to those metal rods to see if the fireplace will light. Be ready to step back if it lights the fireplace to avoid hairless arms. You may need to hold the flame of the grill lighter on the metal rod for 30-45 seconds (with the switch turned on) to heat it up.

If the fireplace starts then it’s likely 1. the pilot light needs to be turned up a little. check the gas valve on the internet to see how and/or 2. the thin tube feeding gas to the pilot may need cleaning . they commonly get spider webs inside them (if you remove it turn OFF THE GAS and don’t kink the tube reinstalling it.

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As said before, this is something you should leave to a professional, but here is my read on it...

There are actually two systems that generate electrical energy from the pilot light. Both are usually located right next to the pilot burner, on opposite sides of it:

  1. The THERMOCOUPLE is right next to the pilot, and is usually quite skinny. This generates a small current to tell your gas valve that the pilot is on, and ensures that the gas is turned off if it goes out. The fact that your pilot does stay on means that this is working.
  2. The THERMOPILE is also right next to the pilot, and is usually the larger of the two. This generates a much larger electrical current from the heat of the pilot flame, and is used to open and close the main gas valve. Usually when you have a pilot, but no main burners, it's either the THERMOPILE or the entire gas valve itself that is defective. If the pilot has deposited a lot of soot on the THERMOPILE, it may also be insulated from the heat and not generate enough current. Check it out and clean it with some emery cloth, and see if this helps. A service person can easily check this.

One other thing that many people forget is to also check the actual On-Off switch, as these can go bad. Check it out for continuity, as this may also cause the same symptoms.

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On the Heat & Glo all you need to do is tap on the gas valve gently with a hammer or rubber mallet. Turn it on so the pilot is lit. Tap on the round flat part of the valve that is facing you, and voila, the burner will light. Not sure why that works. If anyone knows why, please let me know.

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