How do I light my gas fireplace?
September 21, 2011 2:56 PM   Subscribe

With fall approaching, I would like to light a fire in my gas fireplace, but I cannot figure out how.

I've read previous questions, but here I am with no fire. I have inspected the whole insert and I don't see a switch or igniter button, so I've concluded that I need to start the fire with a lighter. The main problem I have is that I cannot see a pilot light anywhere and I can't figure out how to start the gas. There is a gas line that comes in through a hole in the left side of the fireplace (Majestic MBUC36, probably less than 20 years old). The gas line goes behind/under the metal grate and curves around to the right side of the grate. On that side at the end of the gas line there is what looks like a giant allen wrench. I assumed that this wrench is the "key" to turn on the gas. But it won't budge and it's definitely not something I'd like to force. Aside from that, there is also a thing on the left side that looks like a pinball ball shooter thingie. When I pull on that, it opens a little trap door on the side. Also, there are ceramic logs on the grate and sand/fake ash-looking stuff underneath the grate. There is a vent/flue thingie at the top that I've figured out how to open and close.

I've never had a gas fireplace before, so this is all very new to me. Also, if I did actually get a fired started, how would I put turn it off/put it out?

I'm planning to have someone come out and inspect the gas line since I've lived in the house 2 years and I've never figured this out. But I don't want to look like a total idiot if they tell me to turn it on and I don't know how.
posted by lbo to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
I don't want to look like a total idiot if they tell me to turn it on and I don't know how.

Get over it. There's a reason gas explosions are the cliche excuse for inconvenient explosions in genre fiction. It's because they happen, and they suck.

You want to get this whole thing inspected before you do anything. You want to make sure the whole thing is clean and in working order before you even try to light it. My roommate once caught his hair on fire trying to light one of these things he wasn't familiar with.
posted by valkyryn at 3:03 PM on September 21, 2011

Beyond the general " how do i make fire " questions you want to also get the chimney and liner inspected as well.

Especially if you can't date the install/vintage/etc accurately and have never seen it operate.
posted by iamabot at 3:08 PM on September 21, 2011

Who cares what the gas guy thinks? You'll never see him (or her) again.

You will look like a much bigger idiot if you light it incorrectly and burn your house down.
posted by rtha at 3:19 PM on September 21, 2011 [2 favorites]

I have lit gas fireplaces before, and the first time I lit the one in my new place, I was sick, shivering, and not really paying attention. I turned the gas on, tried to light it, and nothing happened. So, I looked closely and realized I was trying to light way below where I the gas actually came out. "Silly me!" I thought. So I raised the lighter up a few inches and proceeded to burn my eyelashes, eyebrows, and the front part of my hair off.

My roommate says he'll never forget the image of my head completely engulfed in a big flame.
So yeah, call an inspector. You'll look more like a total idiot without eyebrows and hair.
posted by thewumpusisdead at 3:22 PM on September 21, 2011

OK, inspector called. Thanks, folks.
posted by lbo at 3:32 PM on September 21, 2011

But I don't want to look like a total idiot if they tell me to turn it on and I don't know how.

I get the fire place in my rental inspected annually and my experience is the gas guy is going to go right into a spiel about how to light your fireplace and how to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning while doing it without you even having to ask whether you want him to or not.
posted by Mitheral at 4:15 PM on September 21, 2011

But I don't want to look like a total idiot if they tell me to turn it on and I don't know how.

yea, just tell them right away - "I was never showed how to light this, so I don't know how, can you teach me?"
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 4:24 PM on September 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

Just a FYI if you are in Canada-ALL natural gas/propane/oil appliances require an annual inspection and maintenance via TSSA regulations.As a homeowner you should have been instructed on the proper operation of the unit/been given a manual (you should be able to find one online if yours is missing) but given the annual requirement-usually best to have the tech do it. A combustion report should be performed at this time.

A LOT of people do not know this is a requirement and the TSSA is not overly pushing it ( although they are a LOT more stringent and forceful than Union gas etc was when they were the governing org) non inspection could become an issue with an insurance claim due to natural gas appliance malfunction/carbon monoxide poisoning etc.As well -if you rent a natural gas/propane/oil hot water tank etc make sure you contact the renting company and remind them of the inspection being due (paper trail helps too) Thousands of rental units out there that have never been inspected.
posted by plumberonkarst at 10:22 PM on September 21, 2011

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