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Ten Top Reasons a Fire Won’t Ignite in a Fireplace – Pt 1

Fireplace ProblemsIt’s still snowy in Connecticut, offering more opportunities to enjoy your fireplace before warm weather sets in.  But if you try to light your fireplace and it won’t start, there could be many possible causes.  The following are five of the top ten reasons a fire won’t start:

1– The Wood isn’t Seasoned

There are different things which need to happen for a fireplace to work properly and one of them is that the air in the chimney needs to be warmed up.  If the air stays cold, it pushes down in the chimney column and can make it difficult for smoke from the fire to rise up and out of the house.  So if your wood isn’t producing much heat, it can affect the operation of the chimney.  Green wood or wood that isn’t seasoned uses the fire’s heat to burn out the moisture, which doesn’t produce much heat.  In addition, it can be difficult for the wood to catch fire because of the moisture inside.  The type of wood you use can be the cause of a fire that won’t start as well as smoke pouring into your home instead of up the chimney.

2– The Damper Doesn’t Fully Close

Sometimes people forget to open the damper before trying to start a fire; but sometimes even when the damper is open, there is something preventing it from fully opening.  There are many possible reasons for this problem, from water damage to a buildup of soot behind the dampers.  A professional chimney sweep addresses this issue and many more when doing a fireplace and chimney inspection.

3 –In a Gas Fireplace, the Gas Supply is Cut Off

Of course, a gas fireplace requires gas to operate.  There could be a number of reasons why no gas is getting to the fireplace.  It could be that the valve or wall switch which transfers the gas from the main line or source to the fireplace has been turned off and simply needs to be turned back on.  The gas supply could be depleted.  Or, if you get the gas from a utility company, a utility payment could have been lost in the mail.

4 –In a Gas Fireplace, the Pilot Light is Out

The pilot light for a gas fireplace can be blown out by a sudden downdraft or by wind.  If this is what happened, turn the pilot light back on.  For most appliances, the way a pilot light is lit is that you turn the control knob in a counter-clockwise movement to the Pilot position.  Click on the red button, and that should light the pilot.  Hold the button in for about a minute and then turn the knob to the “on” position.

5–  In a Gas Fireplace, the Gas Valve is Blocked

The thermo coupling produces an electric spark from the pilot light which opens the gas valve.  This is a tiny spark, and even a tiny amount of dust can block the valve.

Be sure to see Part 2 of this series to learn the other top five reasons a fireplace doesn’t start, which involve more complex issues.  In the meantime, contact our chimney professionals for all of your fireplace, chimney, and venting needs.

Northeastern Chimney, Inc
37 Cody Street, West Hartford, CT 06110
Phone: 860-233-5770

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