How to Light a Fireplace (AVOID Doing This!)

Fireplaces are one of the most essential structures in any home. Whether you want to warm up from the winter cold or you just want to enjoy a cozy evening, lighting your fireplace will surely put you in a better mood.

Lighting a fireplace can seem like an intimidating task, especially since most people don’t know how to light a fireplace or how to properly maintain one. Let’s show you how this is done so that you can enjoy the soothing sound of your fireplace.

If you’re a beginner who wants to enjoy a warm evening, keep reading to learn everything there’s to know about lighting a fireplace.

How to Light a Fireplace

You don’t need any special equipment to light your fireplace. All you need is a few logs of good quality wood and a match!

As for gas fireplaces, you’re pretty much set without any external resources. However, you’ll need to follow stringent safety measures. Wear protective gloves, goggles, and fireproof clothing.

How to Light a Wood Fireplace

Wood fireplaces are timeless. Aside from heating your home, you get to enjoy the warm smell of the burning wood and the relaxing crackling firewood sounds.

You don’t need to be a lumberjack to enjoy a wood fire, though. Simply follow the steps below:

Step 1: Stack the Wood Logs

The first thing you need to do is build an even wood stack. To achieve this, you’ll need to place the largest logs of wood at the bottom and work your way up to the smallest twigs. There are several ways to stack the logs. The way that you stack them affects how the fire will burn.

Then, tear up some old newspaper and place it on top of the wood stack. This ensures a clean, even burn.

Step 2: Light the Fireplace

Unlike gas fireplaces, a match or a lighter is all you need to light a wood fireplace. You’ll only need to light the newspaper, and the fire will automatically spread evenly to the larger wood logs.

Step 3: Tend to the Fire

You’ll need to tend to the fire according to your preferences. Keep adding logs for a longer fire, and adjust the damper and vents to control the size of the flame.

How to Start a Gas Fireplace

Unlike wood fireplaces, gas fireplaces are easy to start. They require minimal setup, so you can easily enjoy their warmth.

Some gas fireplaces come with a wall-mounted electronic ignition switch. That means all you have to do is turn on the fireplace and relax.

Most gas fireplaces, however, require manual access to the control panel. This isn’t as hard as it sounds; you’ll simply need to follow the steps below:

Step 1: Read the Owner’s Manual

Before attempting to light your fireplace, you should always read the manual. Even though most fireplaces are similar, some have distinct features. If mishandled, it can result in a gravely dangerous situation.

Reading the owner’s manual ensures that you understand your fireplace model, where all of the controls are located, and what specific precautions to take.

Step 2: Check the Gas Valve

Make sure that the fireplace is clean before you start it.

Your fireplace must be properly connected to the gas pipe. After all, that’s what lights it up.

Make sure the gas valve knob is open. For this, you may need a special gas valve key.

Make sure that you use materials that are approved for gas. Some rubbers will melt when you use them with gas.

You can also use a gas detector to detect gas leaks. If you don’t have one, you can use water and soap to detect gas leaks, just look for bubbles.

Gas tanks can explode if they are not properly handled. They also have an expiration date.

Step 3: Access the Control Panel

Gas fireplaces operate via a control panel, which you can access by removing the fireplace screen. The control panel is usually located at the bottom of the fireplace unit.

Step 4: Turn the Control Knob to ‘Off’

Once you open the control panel, you’ll find a round knob that has three modes, ‘On’, ‘Pilot’, and ‘Off’.

If it’s not already off, make sure to turn the fireplace off and wait for at least five minutes before attempting to light the fireplace.

Keep in mind that this step is crucial. If the fireplace turned on, it was probably leaking gas. Any fire ignition at this point is extremely dangerous, so you must wait for the gas to dissipate.

Step 5: Turn On the Pilot Light

After allowing enough time for the gas to dissipate, you’ll need to turn on the pilot light. To do this, turn the control knob to ‘Pilot’ while pressing down on it. Depending on your fireplace, this may be enough to light the pilot light.

That said, your fireplace may have a manual ignition switch. In this case, you’ll need to simultaneously press the ignition switch while holding down the control knob.

Then, you’ll release the ignition switch, and continue holding down the knob for a few seconds to ensure the pilot light stays lit.

Step 6: Turn On the Fireplace

After you’re sure that the pilot light is lit, release the control knob and turn it to ‘On’.

If for any reason the pilot light isn’t turned on, you’ll need to turn the control knob to ‘Off’ again, and repeat steps 4 to 6.

Step 7: Reattach the Fire Screen

Once you’ve lit your fireplace, reattach your fire screen. This is incredibly important as fire screens provide a barrier against an open fire.

Now, you’re ready to enjoy the warm fire.

Fireplace Maintenance

Even if you follow all of the above steps perfectly, if your fireplace isn’t properly maintained, lighting it can be difficult, if not dangerous.

Wood Fireplace

You can successfully light your wood fireplace no matter the circumstances, but you’ll likely run into some issues if you fail to maintain it properly. Cleaning the glass of the fireplace is important.

Check your chimney regularly. You need to make sure nothing is stuck in your chimney that could burn or obstruct the smoke’s path. Your chimney should also be regularly cleaned, and the grates and damper should be regularly replaced.

You should also be aware of creosote buildup as it can clog your chimney and damage your walls. You can either schedule a professional cleaning or use a sweeping log.

While wood fireplaces don’t need a lot of safety precautions, you’ll still need to install a carbon monoxide alarm even if you only light your wood fireplace once a year.

Gas Fireplace

There are different bits and pieces essential for your gas fireplace. Making sure they work properly is a crucial first step.

Burner Plates

The first step in gas fireplace maintenance is to clean the burner plates. Not only will having a clogged burner plate prevent your fireplace from working properly, but it’s also a great hazard. So, always make sure you have a clean burner plate.

Pilot Light

The pilot light is what lights up the whole fireplace. If one part of it malfunctions, the fireplace simply won’t light, no matter how hard you try.

The thermocouple on the pilot light is what keeps it lit. If the pilot light goes out the moment you let go of the control valve, the thermocouple might be burnt off.

The thermopile, on the other hand, is what lights up the fireplace’s logs after the pilot light is turned on. If you’ve successfully lit the pilot light, then switched the control valve to ‘On’, but the fireplace still won’t light, this might mean your thermopile needs to be replaced.


Lighting a fireplace can seem like a scary idea since people usually like to stay away from any open flames and gas. However, once you know all of the required steps and the safety measures, you’ll realize it’s an easy yet rewarding task.

Most gas fireplaces come with a control panel that allows you to light the fireplace in seconds. Wood fireplaces, on the other hand, need a little more manual labor.

We have discussed how to build a fireplace here.

Now that you know how to light a fireplace, whether it’s gas or wood, you can turn any cold winter evening into a warm cozy night.