Do you light gas fireplaces?

I see a lot of gas/propane fireplace and ventless wall heaters in my area. I usually don’t light them if there is not pilot already lit, but I was just wondering how many of you will light them. I’m very comfortable lighting them but usually avoid it due to increased liability.

And what liability would that be, perhaps your own safety. I don’t understand this crutch called liability as a reason to not do something. Yes I am aware that most SOP do not require you to light a pilot but I feel kind of silly saying Oh you did not have the pilot lite so I did not inspect???

Don’t put your face inside the fireplace when you light it.

I will light them if they cooperate using normal controls. If I have to go beyond what would normally be expected of a homeowner, then no.


#1 What does your Insurance Provider say about the possibility of you blowing something up? Inspection standards say you do not light fires. Is inspecting the operation worth you paying for it? Your likely not covered if it is not in the Standards as part of your job.

Yes, they do blow up!
Many years ago I had a client that was making a stink about the fireplace in a new construction inspection. The REA was going to light it, so I thought it would be better if I did it. After all it’s new construction right?

I lit it and as everyone stood around looking at it, a flash shot into the gas pipe hole in the side of the firebox. Like a big potato gun it went off! Took the chimney cap off and most of the flue pipe and sent it to the next house lot.

There was a fitting inside the chimney chase that was leaking (a lot). As you know, you can’t have fittings inside a wall. Well how do you see that?
Because it was a code violation, I slid out of that one without a remark from anyone.

So do what you want, but be aware crap happens.

Well see ya might have saved a life by exceeding your SOP;-) keep up the good work:p

That depends on the length of his arm. His face could still be blown off.

Maybe in Canada, not in the U.S.

Some inspectors exhibit far greater expertise at knowing and explaining what they are required to do than what it takes to perform a thorough inspection.

If something bad is going to happen during the process of lighting a gas fireplace appliance, I would prefer that it happen while I’m inspecting the house and it still belongs to the seller rather than Christmas morning with my client and their family, after they entrusted me to inspect their house.

Again; test everything you can, but be sure your insured for what you do…

Do not test a device that does not pass a visual inspection first…

You don’t have to be a test dummy.

If the gas fireplace is shut down and the gas valve is off then report it as such.

AND recommend the sellers have it operational for the final walkthrough.

I second that.


That is what separates the wanta be from some one who cares about their client

Was it off because there was a faulty unit? Was it off because the pilot control was defective? Do you turn on water shut off valves that are turned off when you get there? I am not sure being cautious and wise are equal to doing a shoddy inspection.

Well for one if its faulty that is what I am being paid to find out. If one can not tell the difference between a gas valve and a water valve one should most likely find another profession. Don’t compare apples to oranges;-)

I have to question this statement. I have a lot of respect for your contributions to this MB, have learned a lot of good info from many of your posts and I’m not looking to start a war of words by any means, but…

As a husband and the father of 4 young children providing myself with protection from physical harm is an important factor for me when making decisions such as this.

Many things we do during an inspection have a high level of potential for injury. Climbing ladders, walking roofs, removing dead front panels, etc. These things I do while trying to take the needed precautions to avoid injury.

Turning on a gas valve, lighting pilot and taking an appliance to full flame does not conform to my taking all the precautions possible while inspecting. I do not know the reasons that the valve was turned off, pilot is not lit. I could be subjecting myself and others at the inspection to a very potentially dangerous situation.

Having said this, inferring that because of my position that I’m “a wanna be inspector that doesn’t care about my clients”, is at the least insulting. When i come across a senerio such as this I explain the potential safety hazards with opening valves, lighting pilots, etc. and recommend they have a specialist further evaluate and operate the system.

Is this somethig that I could do myself? Absolutely, but what happens when I blow myself up or worse yet, someone else? I’ve only encountered a hand full of times and haven’t had anyone argue or complain that I didn’t open/light to date.

Well said!:stuck_out_tongue:

I guess I get a little rough around the edges. My intent as its always been is to encourage HI’s to learn to recognize a potential problem before it becomes a full blown problem. Nine out of ten gas logs in my area have two shut off valves and in the cooling season both are always turned off I test them anyway. If I smell gas that is the extent of the test I don’t strike an arc.

Charlie, no harm done.

I also wanted to voice my view on why I don’t open valves/light pilots.

Additionally, I’ve had homeowners open valves/light pilots and then I’ve returned to complete inspection of the appliance. Which is always an option that doesn’t require bring in a vendor, usually recommend this as the first option.