How do I start a (gas) fire?
January 10, 2004 7:11 PM   Subscribe

Dang, it's cold! I sure would like to sit around a toasty fire. And hey, look over there! It's a perfectly good fireplace... but we just bought this house in July and have never used it. We know it uses natural gas, as evidenced by the key-knob that releases the fumes. But we don't see any pilot light. It might be electric starting, but no switch is evident, and being in a circa 1985 house, I doubt it. So... anybody ever used one of these things?
posted by grabbingsand to Technology (8 answers total)
Can you push in on the key-knob thing as you turn it from off to pilot?

Mine works like this: In the "off" position, press in the knob, and hold it in while turning to "pilot" position. Hold it for about 10 seconds or so to ensure pilot light stays on, then let go, and you should be able to turn it up.

You may have to manually light the pilot light if this doesn't work. Turn it to pilot, while holding the knob in and get some flame in there. It's important you only light the pilot while in pilot mode ;-)

See if you can find a model number or something on it, and google for instructions.
posted by MiG at 7:36 PM on January 10, 2004

You may want to contact your gas utility for information, as they'd have knowledge of the maintenance history of the fireplace/valve setup.

If it's hard to tell when the fireplace was used, it'll be safer still to have it inspected, in addition to cleaning the flue/chimney section.
posted by Smart Dalek at 7:47 PM on January 10, 2004

*nod* You might want to have it inspected, especially if you didn't have a home inspection before you moved in.

We always lit our gas fireplace with a long match. We never burninated ourselves doing it and we've been doing it for years, so I'm assuming that it's a relatively safe way to do it. Just light a match, set it near the jets (or in our case, on top of the bed of fake coals that the gas seeps out of) and then turn on the gas. Fwoom. If it doesn't go Fwoom after a few seconds, turn the gas off and wait for it to clear before you put the match in a different place and try again.
posted by SpecialK at 8:18 PM on January 10, 2004

I'll mimic SpecialK's advice. My 'rents have two gas-based fireplaces and we light them with one of those long grill lighters. Just pop it under the "wood" and slowly turn the gas on. The *fwoom* should come.

But, just in case, let me clarify: do so at your own risk.
posted by Ufez Jones at 9:38 PM on January 10, 2004

Same here with SpecialK's advice. Ours had no pilot light, no accidents in over 20 years.
posted by planetkyoto at 2:24 AM on January 11, 2004

my folks have had no trouble using a long grill ighter as well.
posted by juv3nal at 3:48 PM on January 11, 2004

My parents have a house that was built in the late 30s with four gas fireplaces, all of them have to be lit with a match/lighter. I'd certainly echo Ufez about getting a long grill lighter because the, uh, "fwoom" can be rather scarifying when you're holding the match in your fingers.

And I know this because I did it (again) just yesterday.

And if you have a cat (or children) make sure you have a grate /screen/something in front of the fireplace. My kitty loves to curl up next to the fire and can be rather stupid about where she swings her little long-haired tail.

But do enjoy your fireplace. They're oh-so nice.
posted by katieinshoes at 10:09 PM on January 11, 2004

Response by poster: You'll be pleased to know that we applied a lit long grill lighter to the area 'neath the faux wood, turned the little key and got a very nice "fwoom" in no time.

And now we are toasty.
posted by grabbingsand at 6:29 PM on January 12, 2004

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