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How to Fix a Gas Fire that Keeps Going Out

Updated on December 18, 2015

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

After doing some research, I now have basic knowledge about gas fires and fixed my gas fire fault. Here's an easy way to do it:

  • Blow through a drinking straw over pilot/thermocouple area to clean them out. (This saved us at least £30.)

Different makes and models have different safety devices. Some have only a thermocouple and some have an oxypilot that is an atmospheric vitiation sensing device. Learn more about these below and how to fix yours so that your gas fire won't keep going out.

Pilot

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 produce a "lazy" flame, and that will be disturbed by the draught of the main burners. The flame lifts away from the thermocouple and cause the temperature on the tip of the thermocouple drops, this, in turn, makes the gas valve shut off.
  • The fire produced on 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.

Thermocouple
Thermocouple

Thermocouple

  • 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.

Oxypilot
Oxypilot

Oxypilot

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 and the heat is 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.

  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, and blow down it to clean it out.

CORGI Registered Gas Installer

Even if you have knowledge of gas fire, 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.

  • Gas appliances should be serviced every 12 months.
  • Hiring a CORGI engineer to service the fire involves removing the gas fire and checking the chimney with a smoke pellet. He 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.

Comments

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    • profile image

      WinterIsComing 

      2 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 

      2 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 

      2 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 

      4 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 

      6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Flowtech 

      6 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 

      6 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 

      6 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 

      6 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 

      7 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 

      7 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 

      7 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  

      8 years ago

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

    • profile image

      Newman Hard 

      8 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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