Gas Valve Leaking?
Do you smell gas coming from your fireplace but don’t know where it’s coming from? Nothing is more frustrating and puzzling than a gas smell coming from your fireplace when it’s off. If you’re unsure whether your gas valve is leaking, then there are ways to test it and tell. Since we understand your frustration and concern, we’re going over fireplace gas valves and how to tell if your fireplace valve is leaking.
What Is a Fireplace Gas Valve and Where Is it Located?
A fireplace gas valve is located near your firebox and it controls the flow of gas to your feature. Whether you have a fireplace, a fire pit or just a log lighter for conveniently starting fires in your wood-burning fire pit, chances are you have a straight or angled quarter-turn ball valve.
If your fireplace has a gas line or another gas fireplace accessory installed, then the gas valve can be found either on the wall or the floor next to your fireplace. Normally, your gas valve is covered by a gas valve plate, also called an escutcheon, that has a key for turning the supply of gas on and off. Sometimes, your fireplace gas valve will come equipped with a simple handle or knob that you turn a quarter of the way to control the flow of gas.
A quarter-turn ball valve means you turn the handle a quarter of a full rotation to open or close the valve and control the flow of gas. These valves are generally made of brass with a hollowed-out ball that sits in the middle of a chamber. The ball mechanism is attached to an outer handle that when turned, either opens or closes the flow of gas to your fireplace.
Is Your Fireplace Gas Valve On or Off?
The basic operation of a fireplace gas valve coupled with a brass design makes for a durable, long-lasting valve component, but it’s still subject to normal wear and tear. It might sound like common sense, but one of the ways to check a leaky gas valve is to ensure the ball valve is fully closed. If your valve is fully closed and you still smell gas coming from your fireplace when it’s off, then you likely need a ball valve replacement. If you’re unsure, here’s how to tell if your fireplace gas valve is on or off:
Fireplace gas valve on: the handle is parallel to the valve, which turns the hollowed-out area of the ball in your ball valve parallel to the gas pipe and opens the flow of gas to your fireplace. If you have an escutcheon installed, then insert the key and turn it pointing to on.
Fireplace gas valve off: the handle is perpendicular to the valve, which turns the ball with the solid area parallel to the pipe to block the flow of gas to your fireplace. If you have an escutcheon instead of a gas valve handle, then insert the key and turn it pointing to off.
Again, this may sound like common sense, but many times the handle isn’t fully closed and this allows just a small amount of gas to continue flowing through the ball valve and into your fireplace. When this happens, you’ll smell gas coming from your fireplace. If you turn your gas valve key or handle closed tight and still your gas valve smells like gas, then chances are you need a fireplace gas valve replacement.
What Causes a Gas Valve Leak?
Ball valves tend to wear out over time and not seal off the flow of gas to and from your fireplace, causing a leak even when your gas fireplace or log starter pipe is turned off. When your fireplace is turned off but your gas valve smells like gas, then you leak and probably need a replacement valve. Here are some of the common causes or issues behind a gas fireplace valve leak:
Damage: if your quarter-turn ball valve is physically damaged from the outside, this can cause misalignment and be the reason for a leak. Look for any signs of damage such as bends, cracks or dents.
Stripped or worn: sometimes a fireplace gas valve becomes worn or stripped and won’t fully close off the flow of gas. This is harder to identify, but you’ll know if your fireplace is turned off and there’s a smell of gas still coming from the valve.
Wrong size: if you recently installed your gas fireplace or had a gas line connected to your fireplace and you smell gas when your feature is turned off, then you may have the wrong size gas valve installed.
Installing a gas valve that is too big is one of the top causes of gas fireplace leaks, which is also why you should always consult a certified gas professional before connecting fireplace gas lines.
How To Test Your Fireplace Gas Valve for Leaks?
To test your fireplace gas valve for leaks, follow these steps:
Fill a spray bottle, jar, bowl or glass with water and a few tablespoons of dishwashing soap.
Mix the solution to create a soapy mixture.
Turn your spray bottle to the “stream” setting or take a paintbrush and apply the soapy mixture on your fireplace gas valve.
Turn on the gas and check for any bubbles to appear. If you see bubbles start to appear, then you have a gas leak.
This is an easy DIY fireplace gas valve troubleshooting technique. Small bubbles resembling foam indicate a small gas leak whereas larger bubbles mean your fireplace valve has a major leak.
How To Repair a Gas Fireplace Valve Leak?
If you’ve performed the fireplace gas valve troubleshooting technique above and discovered a leak, then you have a couple of options. From here, you can attempt to fix a small gas valve leak yourself by tightening the connection. Wipe off your gas valve, tighten the connection using a basic pipe wrench or adjustable wrench and retest the valve using the technique above. Just be careful not to damage or strip your connection or fireplace gas pipe in the process of trying to tighten it. If you still have a gas smell coming from your gas valve or fireplace, then you probably need to call a certified gas professional to come out and run more tests.
For major fireplace valve leaks, we recommend turning off the gas supply to your home or your fireplace, if that’s possible. Next, open up some windows and call a professional to come out and further diagnose your leaky gas valve problem. Although you can try to tighten the connection yourself, major gas leaks are cause for concern and typically aren’t fixed by simply tightening the valve and gas line.
How To Prevent Leaking Gas Valves
Preventing gas fireplace valve leaks is the best way to avoid costly repairs and replacements. The last thing you want is to neglect your fireplace gas valve and get stuck with a large repair bill. Run the above DIY troubleshooting test using soapy water a couple of times per year to detect any issues early.
Basic gas valve care and maintenance are also great ways to prevent gas leaks. Don’t overtighten your gas fireplace valve as this will cause it to wear out quicker than normal. Use caution whenever you’re moving or lifting heavy items near or around your floor and wall-mounted gas valves or escutcheons. Hitting, banging and jostling your gas valve can loosen or damage your connections and cause leaks. Bending or denting your connections and valves can also cause gas to back up into the lines, which is an explosion hazard.
It’s also a good idea to have carbon monoxide detectors installed in your home for safety purposes. Whenever you use gas-burning fireplaces or other features, it’s smart to protect your loved ones with a carbon monoxide detector. Although carbon monoxide detectors won’t prevent a leaky gas valve, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing you and your loved ones are safe.
Fireplace Doors Online Carries Replacement Fireplace Gas Valves and Valve Kits
Hopefully, this article has helped you figure out whether or not your fireplace gas valve is leaking. Don’t be afraid to troubleshoot the problem moving forward, but when in doubt always contact a certified professional to come out and diagnose the issue.
In the meantime, explore our replacement valves and gas valve kits. We carry a range of kits that have everything you need to replace your leaky fireplace gas valve including an escutcheon and a new valve key!