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Gas Fire Pit Not Lighting: Easy Fix

There's no better way to spend a chilly evening than gathering around a warm, inviting fire pit. The dancing flames not only provide a cozy ambiance but offer a beautiful and timeless way to break the chill of the night. However, when your gas fire pit refuses to light, it can quickly put a damper on your plans. Things can get even more frustrating if...

gas fire pit not lighting

There's no better way to spend a chilly evening than gathering around a warm, inviting fire pit. The dancing flames not only provide a cozy ambiance but offer a beautiful and timeless way to break the chill of the night. However, when your gas fire pit refuses to light, it can quickly put a damper on your plans. Things can get even more frustrating if you can’t figure out what’s wrong and are stuck with a non-functional fire pit.

In this post, we’ll take a look at the most common reasons why a gas fire pit may not light and look at some simple solutions to get the flames burning once again. So, the next time your fire pit doesn’t light, you'll be well-armed with the knowledge needed to troubleshoot and fix the problem, so that your cozy evening isn’t put on hold by a malfunctioning fire pit.

The Anatomy of Your Gas Fire Pit

Gas fire pits are a favorite for their ease of use and reliable performance, making them one of the most popular choices for homeowners with outdoor living spaces or hardscaped entertainment areas. To have the best chance at troubleshooting a gas fire pit that’s not lighting, you’ll need to have at least a basic, working knowledge of how they work and what systems or components are likely going to be to blame.

First, at the heart of any gas fire pit is its ignition system, which can be broadly categorized into three types: manual, semi-automatic, and automatic ignitions:

  • Manual Ignition: This is the simplest type of ignition, where you'll use a match or lighter to ignite the gas manually after it's been turned on.
  • Semi-Automatic Ignition: In this system, a switch or button is pressed to create a spark for ignition while the gas flow is controlled manually.
  • Automatic Ignition: This is the most advanced system, where both the gas flow and ignition are controlled electronically, often with the convenience of remote control operation.

The gas supply is another critical component. The gas for a gas fire pit is controlled by a valve, which may be manually or automatically operated depending on the model. The gas valve ensures the right volume of gas flows through to the burners, and that it’s at the correct pressure.

Gas fire pits are also typically equipped with various safety features to help prevent accidents or limit potentially hazardous situations. For instance, many units have thermocouples and thermopiles, which are devices that shut off the gas supply if no flame is detected, preventing gas leaks and potential explosions.

Now that you’ve gained an understanding of the basic operation of a fire pit and the assorted ignition systems, you’ll be in a far better position to identify and address the issues that are keeping your gas fire pit from lighting.

Common Reasons Why Your Gas Fire Pit May Not Be Lighting

If you suddenly find yourself wanting to have a fire but your gas fire pit isn’t lighting, the first step is going to be finding the cause. Below are the three most common reasons your fire pit is not lighting.

Ignition Problems

Arguably one of the most common problems experienced with a gas fire pit is a failed ignitor. Check the ignitor for any obvious damages or carbon build-up. For manual and semi-automatic systems, make sure you see that a spark is being produced when attempting ignition. For automatic systems, ensure that the batteries are fresh and that the electronic components are functioning properly.

Gas Supply

Another incredibly common reason that a gas fire pit is not lighting is that there is an issue with the gas supply. Ensure that your gas supply is turned on and that there's sufficient gas in the tank if you're using a propane model. It's also a good idea to check the gas valve to ensure it's in the open position and functioning correctly, though in many fire pits partial disassembly is needed to see the gas valve, and its operation may not be readily apparent.

Blockages & Debris

For those who have had their fire pits for a long time, over time debris can find its way into the burners or gas jets. This obstructs the gas flow and makes consistent, reliable ignition challenging. However, if you find blockages, ensure the gas is turned off before attempting to clear any debris. Use a soft brush or canned air to gently remove obstructions, and consider covering your fire pit when it's not in use to reduce the chance of blockages in the future.

Troubleshooting A Gas Fire Pit That’s Not Lighting

As a homeowner or DIY enthusiast, there are a few things you can do to try and troubleshoot your gas fire pit not lighting, before resorting to reaching out to a professional. Here are the basic steps you can follow to try and identify the issue:

  1. Check Gas Supply: Make sure the gas is turned on and that there’s enough gas in the tank if you’re using propane. Check for any damage or kinks in the supply line, and make sure the gas valve can open and shut.
  2. Inspect the Ignition System: For systems that have a manual or semi-automatic ignition, make sure you can see the spark being generated. Replace the batteries in an automatic system, and ensure all connections are secure.
  3. Clear Any Blockages: Turn off the gas supply and try clearing the gas jets or burner of any debris that could be interfering with the gas flow. A nylon brush or a can of pressurized air are great tools to have here.
  4. Reset the System: Sometimes resetting the system by turning off the gas (and disconnecting the regulator from a propane tank) and waiting for a few minutes can allow the gas valve to reset, or can allow a vapor lock to resolve.
  5. Check Safety Features: Check the thermocouple or thermopile. If it has built up carbon or soot on the tip, it could cause the gas valve to close. Carefully clean the tip of the thermocouple with a wire brush, or replace it.

When It’s Time To Call A Professional

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you just won’t be able to determine the cause of the failure to light. In cases like these, it’s typically advisable to contact a professional to get your fire pit up and running. If you've gone through the troubleshooting steps without success, or if you notice anything unusual such as a gas smell or damaged components, call a professional.

Not only does this take the stress of repair off of your shoulders, but it ensures that the fix will be done properly, keeping you and your home safe. A professional will also have a better chance of finding underlying issues, so that you can keep your fire pit burning better, longer.

Maintenance Tips To Prevent Future Issues

The best way to keep your fire pit operating its best throughout the years is to keep up with routine maintenance. Resolving small issues before they can get worse will go a long way to preventing future lighting issues with your gas fire pit. Here are a few tips:

  • Keep your fire pit clean and free of debris. This means covering it once it’s cooled down and taking the time to clean the burners periodically.
  • Before the cold season sets in, it’s always a good idea to do an intense seasonal inspection and winterization.
  • Leverage a professional for your inspections to make sure it goes quickly, and easily, and that nothing is missed.

Let There Be Light!

Having a gas fire pit that won’t light can be a significant setback, especially when looking forward to a serene evening outdoors. However, by getting a better understanding of the common causes of gas fire pit lighting issues, and knowing the best way to go about troubleshooting them, you stand the best chance of being able to fix them without too much hassle.

That being said, don’t hesitate to rely on professional help when needed to ensure safe and reliable results. 

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