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The Most Common Issues Owners Face

Getting ready for the colder months only to discover your fireplace won’t ignite? A wood-burning fireplace is the epitome of winter charm and cheer. Finding your wood stove broken is a quick way to put a damper on the festivities on the way.

Fortunately, there are many simple solutions when your fireplace is not working. In this guide, you’ll learn all of the ways to troubleshoot ignition problems for wood and gas fireplaces as well as pellet stoves.

Fireplace Safety Essentials

The basics of fireplace safety include installing a smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector in the same room as the fireplace. It’s also important to open the flue before starting a fire.

Proper fireplace maintenance is essential for fireplace safety. Here are our top fireplace maintenance tips to keep you safe and cosy warm this winter:

  • Always clean out the ashes from the previous fire
  • Regularly check the chimney for blockage
  • Get a professional chimney inspection every year

You should never leave a fireplace unattended when there is a fire going. Always put the fire out before going to bed or leaving the house.

Wood Fireplace Issues

If you’re having trouble with your wood fireplace, it could be happening for several reasons. Chances are a bit of troubleshooting will lead to the source of the problem.

Blocked Chimney

A blocked chimney can cause soot and creosote residue to build up in your fireplace. If ignored, this blockage can start a fire – but not the kind you want.

The best way to deal with a blocked chimney is to call in a professional. If you prefer to clean it yourself, you will need to get on your roof and clear out the blockage using a wire chimney brush.

Insufficient Draft

Insufficient draft in your fireplace means there isn’t enough oxygen to make a fire. If you think the problem is an insufficient draft, it could be your chimney is clogged or your damper is not completely open.

Another option is to try leaving the door of your woodstove open while you ignite the fire.

Cold Chimney Flue

A cold chimney flue can also create an insufficient draft. Try warming your flue with a heat source before you start a fire.

Oversized or Damp Logs

Large and damp logs do not burn well. Green and wet wood contribute to soot build-up. It also causes far more smoke.

Always burn dry, well-aged wood. Smaller pieces of wood burn faster, better, and create less smoke.

The Chimney Is Too Short

In order for a fire to burn properly, the chimney must be long enough to create a safe, sufficient draft. If your chimney is too short, it won’t be able to vent the fireplace properly. A short chimney is also a fire hazard.

Gas Fireplace Issues

Gas fireplaces are the epitome of convenience during the cold winter months. If you have a gas or electric fireplace, the ignition issues you might be having are most likely going to be mechanical in nature.


The gas fireplace switch won’t work? One of the most common issues is the pilot light. Check the main gas valve on your electric fireplace to make sure the gas is on.


The thermopile is the mechanism that opens the gas valve when you turn on the fireplace. Test your thermopile output using a multimeter to make sure it is producing enough electricity.

If your thermopile is putting out less than 300 millivolts, it won’t be enough to light your fireplace.

Gas Supply

Insufficient gas supply is another possible reason your fireplace won’t light. To make sure the gas is flowing, turn the key valve as far as you can in order to open up the gas line. Then start your fireplace.

You should be able to use the gas control knob to increase or decrease the flame level.

Gas Pressure

A faulty gas valve will create problems with your fireplace’s gas pressure. It’s not easy to determine if there is a gas pressure problem. The best way to tell is by checking the height of the flames.

If your gas fireplace flames are low, it is a sign the incoming or outgoing pressure is insufficient.

Thermostat Setting

The problem might be that your thermostat is set too low. Adjusting the thermostat might be the solution to your ignition issue.


Dead batteries in your fireplace remote or receiver will prevent your fireplace from igniting. Test your batteries or try a fresh set.

Burner Orifice

A clogged burner causes the build-up of soot. Clean your burner orifice and try igniting the fireplace again.


Notice condensation on the glass door of your fireplace? If this doesn’t burn off as the fire heats up, try wiping it away.


Inadequate wiring can cause problems with your fireplace’s thermopile or thermocouple. If you’ve tried everything else, call a professional to inspect for faulty wiring.

Pellet Stove Issues

Pellet stoves are some of the cleanest and most efficient heat sources. Because a pellet stove is a mechanical device that runs on electricity, they sometimes have problems, too.

Power Supply

Start by checking the source of your electricity. You need to make sure power is getting to the pellet stove motor. You can do this by testing the outlet with a voltage tester.

Pellet Supply

It’s easy to get used to the self-feeding pellet mechanism and forget to add more pellets. Check your hopper to make sure there are enough pellets to fuel the stove.

Dirty Burn Pot

Pellet stoves are very sensitive to dirty burn pots. Leftover ash might be the reason your stove won’t ignite. Clean the burn pot and try lighting the stove again.

Ignition Issues

The problem could be that you don’t have the right air-to-pellet ratio. Try increasing the airflow. If that doesn’t work, it may be time to replace your control panel.

Pressure Sensor

When negative pressure is sufficient, your pellet stove’s pressure sensor stays open. If negative pressure drops below the safe range, the sensor opens and the stove shuts down.

Jammed Auger

When debris gets into the hopper it can cause an auger jam. Clean the hopper, remove and replace the auger, or install a new motor.

Back Draft

Backdraft should not be an issue with pellet stoves. The stove’s combustion blower creates an induced draft to counter potential backdraft problems.

If you are experiencing backdraft, chances are it’s a problem with your electric supply.

When You Need to See A Professional Fireplace Technician

If you have tried all of the trouble-shooting options in this guide and nothing works, it is probably time to call a professional fireplace technician.

You should also call a professional to handle any cleaning and maintenance you don’t feel comfortable doing yourself.

What to Do When Your Fireplace Won’t Ignite

When it comes to winter cosiness and festivity, you can’t beat the ambience of a fireplace. Reasons why a fireplace won’t ignite range from insufficient electricity to insufficient oxygen flow to clogged chimneys and much more.

Regular fireplace maintenance and care is the best way to make sure your fireplace remains in working condition all winter long.

Looking to install or replace your fireplace? Contact Ottawa’s premier gas and wood fireplace manufacturers.