In many homes, there is a shift towards gas fireplaces since they do not require as much maintenance as wood-burning fireplaces. That said, some knowledge of their operation and maintenance is necessary. One of the most important features is the ignition system for the gas fireplace.
Many older gas fireplaces have what is called a standing pilot, which is basically a small flame that keeps burning. This allows for a quick start so you can get the fire going right away. This is part of the reason for the appeal of this type of heating system. This ignition system usually does not give any type of problems, but there is one drawback. As long as the pilot light is on, it is using up fuel. It only uses a small amount, but many people still consider this a waste. In fact, in some states, this type of ignition system is no longer allowed.
The amount of gas a standing pilot uses really comes down to the type of burner, as they all have different designs. New requirements by various states have some manufacturers making the switch to electronic gas fireplace ignition systems.
It might not be necessary to change out the entire system to make the switch to an electronic ignition system. Some gas fireplaces can be upgraded with electronic ignition systems to boost fuel conservation and efficiency. The savings you realize from the use of an electronic system will far outweigh the small cost of the change. This applies whether you retrofit your old fireplace or completely change the system.
One question asked by people who still use standing pilot systems is whether they should turn them off during summer. Some suggest leaving the light on to discourage spiders and other pests from nesting inside. They may also like the idea of a quick flame on a chilly night. Aside from the obvious waste of fuel, a constantly burning pilot can leave a film on a fireplace glass door. This discoloration can be difficult to remove if it is left for too long.
A standing pilot can consume between 10 to 12 gallons of fuel per month, so it is easy to see why this is considered a waste. If you have a gas fireplace you should change your ignition system as soon as you can. Even though a gas fireplace requires less maintenance, you should still keep it cleaned and get it inspected once per year.
Call us at 610-626-2439 to schedule an appointment if you’re in the Springfield area and need a certified chimney sweep. We service the entire Main Line region and would be happy to get you on the books.