How to Fix a Gas Fire That Keeps Going Out

Updated on April 8, 2019
jim.sheng profile image

Through personal research and a DIY ethic, I managed to fix the fault in my gas fire. I now want to share my solution with others.

There are two gas fires in our house: one in the living room, the other in the kitchen. The latter kept going out after about half an hour, even when the dial showed it as on. Though I don't worry too much about carbon monoxide poisoning, I figured there must be some safety device to shut off the gas valve.

After doing some research, however, I now have basic knowledge about gas fires and have successfully fixed my gas fire. All it took was for me to blow through a drinking straw over the pilot/thermocouple area to clean them out. (This saved us at least £30.)

Different makes and models have different safety devices, however. Some have only a thermocouple, and some have an oxypilot (an atmospheric vitiation sensing device). So it's best to do some research on your particular make and model before attempting any repairs.

You can learn more about these devices below, including how they work and how you might be able to fix yours so that your gas fire won't keep going out.

Your pilot light should be sky blue in the middle and dark blue in the outer flame.
Your pilot light should be sky blue in the middle and dark blue in the outer flame. | Source

How the Pilot Works in Your Fire

  • When you first start the fire, keep it on the pilot light for a couple of seconds, and the fire should "kick on" when you turn the dial from the pilot light to the on position. (Sometimes you need to hold the pilot light on for longer to ignite the main fire.)
  • When the pilot is lit, there should be two flames: one over the burner and the other (smaller one) touching the thermocouple.
  • If you get dust in the pilot assembly and the pilot needs to be cleaned out, it produces a "lazy" flame, which will be disturbed by the draught of the main burners. The flame lifts away from the thermocouple and causes the temperature on the tip of the thermocouple to drop. This, in turn, makes the gas valve shut off.
  • The fire produced by the pilot should be sky blue in the middle and dark blue in the outer flame, rather than a flame tinged with yellow. It should be directed at heating the tip of the thermocouple.

This is what a thermocouple looks like (though exact shapes and sizes may vary).
This is what a thermocouple looks like (though exact shapes and sizes may vary). | Source

How the Thermocouple Works

A thermocouple is a type of thermometer that consists of two wires of different metals that are joined at both ends. One junction is at the temperature to be measured, while the other is held at a fixed lower temperature.

The current generated in the circuit is proportional to the temperature difference. The thermocouple works by this difference. Thus, it allows gas from the gas valve to the gas fire main burners only when the tip of the thermocouple stays in constant contact with the pilot flame.

This is a close-up photo of an oxypilot.
This is a close-up photo of an oxypilot.

How the Oxypilot Works

An oxypilot is an atmospheric sensing device in place to put out the gas fire if there is insufficient oxygen in the room. It is designed as a safety device to protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning if the air in a room becomes vitiated.

Basically, if the oxygen percentage in a room drops, the flame shape is altered by its incomplete combustion. The heat is then removed from the thermocouple, shutting off the gas valve. If the oxypilot becomes blocked with dust or soot, the flame lifts away from the thermocouple or flame sensing electrode. This will make the fire cut out, or pilot not light.

How to Fix a Faulty Gas Fire

  1. Between the pilot supply pipe and the pilot burner, there's a brass tail or connector. There'll be a small hole on one side. Make sure there's no dust blocking this, and clean if needed.
  2. Then, place a bit of tubing or a drinking straw over each pilot hole. Blow down through the straw to clean it out.

Get Your Gas Appliances Serviced Every Year

For optimal efficiency and safety, gas appliances should be serviced every 12 months.

Hire a CORGI-Registered Gas Installer

Even if you have solid knowledge of gas fires, you still need a CORGI-registered gas installer to work on gas appliances when you have to break or disconnect any gas supplies or fittings or try to change parts.

Hiring a CORGI engineer to service the fire involves removing the gas fire and checking the chimney with a smoke pellet. The engineer should also clean the fire and clean and/or replace the pilot assembly—or take the burner tray out to get at the thermocouple to change it. This may cost you around £30–£50 or more.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2009 Dalriada Books Ltd

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    • profile image

      Steve Richards 

      2 months ago

      I have a Rinnai gas heater its starts but only last for for 3-5 mins then it goes out

      What do i need to do ?

    • profile image

      Carl Hobbs 

      2 months ago

      Thank you so much for this, quick blow through a straw and my long stored Valor gas heater is now working perfectly again after I couldn't get it lit via the pilot, or to stay alight if I lit it with an external source

    • profile image

      Mary 

      3 months ago

      Thanks so much for the great advice. Worked perfectly after using the straw. Many many thanks!

    • profile image

      Caspersen 

      3 months ago

      This arcticle is a life saver. I used a straw and blew through the 3 gas outlet holes in my Faber gas fireplace. The pilot flame were yellow before and the fireplace couldn't stay lit. Now the pilot flame is bright blue and everything is working again. It turns on easier and stays lit. It was the part of the pilot flame normally pointing backwards to the thermocouple tip (and normally hitting it directly) that caused the fireplace to automatically "de-couple" since the thermocouple never got hot – a cold thermocouple means that the fireplace thinks the fire is blown out and it stops the gas inlet for for safety reasons. Debris in or around the gas holes made my pilot flame burn sluggish (and yellow).

      Thanks again.

    • profile image

      mike 

      3 months ago

      Fire would start then suddenly stop the pilot light also went out. Blew out pilot hole for air made the flame blue like the article says and hey presto big problem fixed......thanks

    • profile image

      Sharlene Rauschl 

      4 months ago

      I have a Heat & Glo gas fireplace, I can get a pilot lit but release knob to start and no fire. try to turn back knob but it locks have to turn back and forth to unlock knob by a click then start all over. Takes about 6 try's what part do i need? also will not turn off and on, when the wind blows fire goes out and releases gas

    • profile image

      Amanda 

      4 months ago

      I can’t believe my eyes, but this fixed my fireplace too! It has been shutting itself off after a minute then turning itself back on repeatedly for over a year. Pilot light stayed on the whole time though.

      I called a service person and he couldn’t fix it without recommending we spend $500 to replace a part. So we chose to leave it. After I saw your post I figured I’d give it a try and it worked!!! It’s been on for over 30 min straight. No issues...so far. :) thank you!!

    • profile image

      Dennis 

      5 months ago

      I have 3 propane fire places, they have never worked correctly, since I have had the house jilt. I hired 4 different Companies to fix them. They work for maybe 30 seconds, then go off. I am tired of hired people that, fix it long enough to get paid, then they stop working. I am at the end of my rope, I live in a medium side time and have called everyone of them with the Sam results. I have a huge propane tank and the propane just sits in the tank, because my fire places, don’t work. Any advice?

    • profile image

      Terry 

      5 months ago

      Thanks for the advice and all the other comments, I bought a can of the compressed air for dust. Can get at Home Depot of Office Depot. Sprayed everything mentioned above. Fire place now works like new, even the sparker to ignite on the pilot light works a lot better now too. this is also very easy to do. I have a wall mounted insert, there are 2 screws at the top (just above the glass). Remove them and then the front face tips out and lifts out of the unit.

    • profile image

      Angelo Unson 

      7 months ago

      Thank you for the advice. The corgi technician recommended replacing the pilot burner, ignition unit and thermocouple. But unfortunately, the parts are no longer available. I did what you suggested. It has been working normally for the past couple of days. Fantastic! Thanks again!

    • profile image

      Tony F 

      7 months ago

      Tried doing this and will continue to try. I can light the pilot but when I turn it to the on position to light the burner, it only lights for about 15 seconds, sputters and then goes out.

    • profile image

      Stuart UK 

      7 months ago

      My elderly parents gas fire kept cutting out. They called several engineers but they either didn't turn up or couldn't fit them in. As its December I decided to try your trick with a straw. Absolutely perfect, it's working like a dream.

    • profile image

      Joe 

      7 months ago

      Great advice. Worked like a charm

    • profile image

      Steve K 

      7 months ago

      I finally replaced the light switch that controls the fireplace and that solved the problem. Well worth the $1.98 investment to give it a try!

    • profile image

      Stephanie L Fosburgh 

      8 months ago

      Amazing! My husband has been fooling with our fire place for weeks trying to figure out what's wrong with it. I told him about your straw trick and what do you know... my fireplace is now working!! Thank you!

    • profile image

      Sharon 

      8 months ago

      It really works! Thanks for sharing the information.

    • profile image

      Jim Prahme 

      8 months ago

      Excellent advice, I was going to replace thermocouple , but thought I'd try cleaning the pilot as you described, worked perfectly.

      Thanx!

      Jim

    • profile image

      Paul Wiese 

      8 months ago

      Sone how it worked. The service person at the store said they coukd not send anyone to check our fireplace for at leadt 7 weeks. Wintery weather just started. He told me to clean the sensors on the oxypilot with a dollar bill. The pilot worked better but no sustaining flame. Did the atraw trick today. Boila, flame. Thanks

    • profile image

      Stephanie Sharpe 

      8 months ago

      Brilliant!!!! Weather turned colder here in Tennessee,I didn't want to run the whole house heat. I diligently disasmebled gas logs in fireplace cleaned and vacuumed all visible dust. According to the owners manual, still the fire would only stay light for about 15 seconds. Looked up the closest technician...is of course in Alabama!!! That be one heck of a service call. Took logs back out ,tried the straw trick and voila it's working great ! Doing the happy dance !!! Many many thanks!!!!

      Stephanie

    • profile image

      Scott Reddin 

      9 months ago

      Worked like a champ! Amazing. Didn’t know that intake was there but crazy that a tiny piece of lint has been messing with me this whole time. Used a paper clip and a can of compressed air. Took 2 seconds and fire is working great!

    • profile image

      Sarah 

      9 months ago

      Great tip. Thanks so much saved me a lot of money. My gas log stove would light then run only about 15 second and shut off. I didn’t have a straw but had a can of compressed gas. It worked perfectly as you described. There is absolutely no danger in this diy fix.

    • profile image

      Wayne 

      14 months ago

      I decided to get the certified technician in to do a full service on my gas fire. I told him I was having issues with the fire going out after approx 1 hour. $250 later he said everything was checked, cleaned and all good! First time I used the fire it went out after an hour! Decided to do the straw trick myself and the fire has been working perfectly ever since!

    • profile image

      John 

      17 months ago

      Hi my portable gas fire gos out after a hour can you help

    • profile image

      Donna 

      19 months ago

      I followed your directions & the diagram along with the straws. It worked!! I now have fire in my fireplace again. Thank you !!

    • profile image

      leon 

      20 months ago

      used a straw as above. Worked first time. Also the diagram of how it produces the flame and how it is supposed to work is excellent. Saved me a lot of money. Thank you best wishes

    • profile image

      WinterIsComing 

      3 years ago

      I don't normally post comments. However... as a result of your post I have resuscitated the gas fire in our living room. I've now secured super hero status at home.

      Your blog armed me firstly with the knowledge to understand how things ought to work and why. Troubleshooting then becomes easy. I also know where i would draw the line and call in a pro.

      Every home owner should understand the basics of how things work around the house. This removes FUD (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt). Thanks

    • profile image

      Steve 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the advice with the straw. The pilot was quite reaching the thermo couple thermo pile. Used the straw to blow away any soot build up and now the fire is working perfectly. Took me a little while to find the small hole at the base of the pilot supply pipe but blew that out with the straw and now have a very healthy pilot light reaching both the thermo couple and the thermo pile. Thanks for the help.

    • profile image

      Alex 

      4 years ago

      Thanks for the information. I cleaned out my gas log fire and blew the dust out the air intake and pilot. Now my fire is working perfectly again. Those posters who think that blowing out some dust is going to some how kill people are actually idiots! You're more likely going to cause a house fire if you don't clean the dust out.

    • profile image

      cc 

      5 years ago

      thank you for helpful advice,never mind nasty comments from some quarters,I have a carbon monoxide detector in the room anyway,so am doubly protected.

    • profile image

      richard 

      7 years ago

      Thanks took a little while to find the hole o the oxypilot value all sorted now

    • profile image

      Flowtech 

      8 years ago

      "it is designed as a safety device to protect you from carbon monoxide poisoning if the air in a room becomes vitiated".

      This is the most dangerous advice I have heard in a long time. Technically wrong on so many levels. Oxy Pilots don't detect CO they detect the absence of Oxygen. Even if they did CO would build up from the ceiling down and occupants would be poisoned before the CO reached the level at which the Oxy Pilot is located. Total nonsense and dangerous.

    • profile image

      steve 

      8 years ago

      I know someone who tried fixing own fire, they are dead now. Says it all! Gas regs there for a reason

    • profile image

      Gas Safe Engineer 

      8 years ago

      Mark is 100% bang on with what he is saying. Do you know how to test safety devices? Can you check that a flue is pulling correctly? Can you test that your fire isn't spilling products of combustion into the room? Thought not. Fires are the biggest killer of all appliances. There is a reason why the gas industry is so heavily regulated, because fatalities can easily occur when people play with things they don't understand. Call in a gas engineer. It's your life on the line for the sake of a few quid!

    • profile image

      Sue 

      8 years ago

      Thank you for the advice re the straw. I will try this when I go home as my fire has been playing up for ages which isn't good this weather. Sometimes it will light, others it won't. Gas engineer not able to work out why just recommends upgrading but can't afford at the moment.

    • profile image

      Samantha Walker 

      8 years ago

      Thankyou, Thankyou, Thankyou !!!

      Our fire has been going out all the time for the last few months, to the point of it going out after a few seconds

      Followed your easy instructions and now it stays on from morning till night

      xxxx

    • jim.sheng profile imageAUTHOR

      Dalriada Books Ltd 

      9 years ago from UK

      I think it's quite rude to call other people IDIOT. Knowledge is money, I am sorry if my post have affected your income.

    • profile image

      mark 

      9 years ago

      THINK ABOUT IT. IF YOU KEEP ON DOING THIS ONE DAY YOU WILL FALL ASLEEP AND NEVER WAKE UP. IDIOT. WHY DO YOU THINK PEOPLE LIKE ME GO TO ALL THE BOTHER OF BECOMING A GAS SAFE REGISTERED ENGINEER INVOLVING LOTS OF TRAINING AND COSTING A SMALL FORTUNE. EASY TO STOP PEOPLE LIKE YOU KILLING OTHERS.

    • profile image

      Elaine  

      9 years ago

      Looking for straws!! thank you, hope this saves me money I cant afford

    • profile image

      Newman Hard 

      10 years ago

      Very helpful. Just what I needed to know .... my fire is doing the same thing. Thanks for the detailed advice!

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