Is It Okay to Leave a Pilot Light on for a Gas Fireplace?

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Fireplace, Gas Fireplaces

Gas fireplaces are a wonderful feature that have the possibility to transform a room for the better. They add all of the comfy charm of a fireplace while being more energy efficient than wood alternatives. 

However, the owner of a gas fireplace will have to know how to manage it. This means knowing what to do with the pilot light. 

This leads many to wonder if pilot lights are safe and if it is okay to leave them on. Keep reading to find out the answers to these questions and more!

Why Does a Gas Fireplace Need a Pilot Light? 

Before diving into the safety of a pilot light, it is important to understand what a pilot light is and what it does. This will allow the homeowner to make informed decisions regarding it. 

A pilot light is basically a small flame that is produced by a continuous stream of gas. When a gas fireplace is turned on, the gas going into the fireplace hits this flame. In doing so, the pilot light serves as an ignition point for the entire fireplace. 

The pilot light needs to run continuously because, without it, the gas going into the fireplace would not have an ignition point. This would lead to fireplaces or entire gas fireplace inserts filling up with gas when they are turned on. 

Is a Pilot Light Safe? 

The fact that a pilot light is a continuously running flame is a cause of concern for many. So, is something like this safe?
The answer is yes in almost all cases. A gas fireplace pilot light produces a flame from a small trickle of gas and does almost nothing else. This small flame is not enough to pose a threat, and the trickle of gas is immediately burned up, so it doesn’t hurt anything either. 

Almost all pilot lights also come with safety features. They are removed from anything flammable so they don’t accidentally start a fire. Many also come with prevention features that will shut off the gas if the flame goes out. 

Even if the pilot light goes out and the gas is left running, it is usually not enough to cause danger. In this situation, the gas should be shut off and the area, whether it is an open room or a gas fireplace insert, should be allowed to air out. After making sure the area has had a chance to fully air out, the gas can be turned back on, and the pilot light can be relit. 

Besides being safe, leaving a pilot light on has some safety benefits. The continuous flow of gas and continuous flame prevent insects from making a home in the gas pipes. In a similar way, they prevent spiders from forming webs. 

Can You Turn a Pilot Light Off? 

Despite the fact that pilot lights are safe, there are reasons to shut them off. Most of these are monetary. 

The gas used to keep a pilot light on ends up costing $20 or more per month. This is true even if the fireplace is never turned on. For some, this is not an expense they want to deal with. 

However, when turning off a pilot light, safety becomes a concern. You can’t just blow the light out and call it a day, you need to shut off the gas that was powering the light. Otherwise, you are still wasting gas and money. 

When it comes time to reignite the pilot light, you will need to turn on the gas again and reignite the light. This is a bit of a process, but it does manage to cut down on the gas bill. 

Should You Leave Your Pilot Light On or Off? 

Ultimately, this decision of whether to keep your pilot light on or off is one that will have different answers depending on the situation. 

Many choose to keep their pilot lights on constantly. This allows them to easily turn on their fireplace whenever they need it. This will be particularly beneficial in situations where the fireplace is being used on a regular basis, as it will save a lot of hassle. 

Other people, especially those with residential fireplaces, choose to turn their pilot lights off on a seasonal basis. People who don’t use their fireplace at all during the summer may turn off their gas in the summer and turn it back on when they are ready to use the fireplace again. This saves money and reduces the hassle of switching the system on and off to only twice a year. 

Others simply choose to turn off their pilot lights and gas when they don’t think they will be using the fireplace for a while. They may be going on an extended vacation or leaving the area for a while. The benefits here are similar to switching the system on and off seasonally. 

In the end, the answer comes down to how much money you want to save versus the hassle you want to spend. For some, paying a little more is worth saving time and energy. For others, the opposite is true. 

Is It Okay to Leave a Pilot Light On?

Anyone with a gas fireplace can rest easy knowing that it is okay to leave the pilot light on. In fact, there are even advantages that make leaving it on worthwhile. However, what the homeowner does with the fireplace is ultimately up to them. 

If you are interested in buying a new fireplace, upgrading your current one, or need gas fireplace service, make sure to contact Dreifuss Fireplaces to see what is available.

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