The idea of installing a gas log lighter in your wood burning fireplace can be quite daunting for some. Fireplace Doors Online is here to help you take some of the pressure away by showing you some basic plumbing instructions for fireplace gas starter pipe installation. While this task is something that a DIY homeowner could do, we always caution our customers to consult with a certified gas technician when working with gas lines. It is always safer to leave it to the professionals, ladies and gentlemen!
First, let's address the question "How do I know which size log lighter to get?"
Usually, the gas log lighter should be the same length as the width of your fireplace log grate. However, even a small starter pipe will do the trick since it's sole purpose is to light your fire wood. Remember: once the logs are burning, the gas flow should be shut off.
Depending on the type of fireplace you have, clearance from the log grate and starter pipe to the firebox walls also plays a role in determining the correct gas log lighter size. Masonry fireplaces do not require a minimum clearance. This means that the width of the log grate is up to the homeowner's personal preference. If their masonry fireplace opening is 37 inches wide, the homeowner may choose a log grate that is 36 inches wide. Therefore, the gas log lighter can be 36 inches long. (However, we normally recommend a 3 inch clearance on all side of the fireplace log grate.) For wood burning zero clearance fireplaces, the distance between the grate and the walls of the firebox is important! For example, if the back width of the fireplace is 37 inches wide, the fireplace grate can only measure a maximum width of 31 inches. The gas log lighter must be no longer than 31 inches as well.
Now that you know what size you need, get ready to install your gas log lighter!
We've compiled instructions for both a wall mount and a floor mount for your log lighter installation. Whichever installation method you choose for your log lighter is up to your preferences, and perhaps the layout of your fireplace. Some homeowners prefer to do all of the plumbing in the floor.
We get a lot of questions from our valued customers about installing log lighters - from contractors to the regular homeowner, so we made this infographic to help with gas starter pipe installation in a wood burning fireplace.
- We recommend a certified gas technician install all gas components.
- Make sure to use a natural gas log lighter if you'll be using natural gas, and propane log lighter if you will be using propane. It is imperative that you DO NOT interchange these two.
- A log lighter should only be used in a wood burning fireplace.
- A log lighter is not meant to be used as a gas burner, running continuously as a fire for your fireplace. It is only to light the logs on fire, then to be turned off.
- Fireplace code states that all shut off valves must be within 6 feet of the opening of the fireplace. The reason for this is if there is a gas issue within the fireplace, you can quickly reach the gas shut off valve. Have your certified contractor evaluate your home to determine pipe lengths.
- Gas controls should never be installed inside the firebox.
- All piping MUST be hard black pipe - NOT flex line.
- Always use a log grate over your log lighter, keeping the logs and main fire off of your gas starter pipe. We recommend installing the log lighter within 1 inch below the log grate. Floor clearance should be similar to minimize the change of ash accumulation that could lead to blocked burner ports.
- The log lighter should be installed on the front of the grate to minimize flame impingement, meaning the logs resting on the grate should not be resting directly over the flames. The burner ports should be directed inward at a 30° to 45° angle with the air shutter on the mixing chamber facing outwards. (The shutter is the little silver "flap" on most models that indicates the fuel type - NG for natural gas; LP for propane.)
- Wood stoves and wood inserts (a prefab unit that slides into a pre-existing fireplace) cannot have log lighters installed. Log lighters can only be installed in zero clearance or masonry wood burning fireplaces.
- Universal Log Lighter - Has a hole on the end and on the side, so if your gas line comes up from the bottom or from the side of the fireplace, this log lighter will be able to attach to it easily.
- 1/2" Straight Gas Ball Valve (Angled Valve Could Work Too)
- Escutcheon (Flange) & Key
- 2 1/2" Male Threaded Gas Nipples
- 2 1/2" Male Threaded Gas Pipes
- 2 1/2" Female Threaded Gas Elbows
- Pipe Tape
You'll also need some basic home diy tools like a drill, pencil, notepad, and measuring tape. The lengths of pipe and nipples needed will need to be determined by you or your contractor. This all depends on how far from the wall your fireplace sits, how far from the fireplace your valve will be, etc. You will need a long pipe going from the valve to your main gas line in the house.
You'll need to map out where you will be putting your gas lines. You'll need to drill a hole big enough to fit a 1/2" pipe through the interior side of your fireplace.
From this point, we will assume you know the basics of running line through the floor or wall and won't go through a step by step of how to get to these areas and how to drill holes through studs, etc, to hold your pipe. As we said, this is a basic instruction.
- Start by turning off the gas to your home. Make sure your firebox is completely free of any debris.
- Connect the log lighter starter pipe to the 1/2" male nipple and slide the nipple from the inside of the fireplace through the hole you drilled. (All other work will be done outside the fireplace). Remember to make sure the burner ports are facing inward at a 30° to 45° angle, and that the air shutter on the mixing chamber is facing outward.
- Connect the male nipple to the female elbow. For the floor mount, here is where you will turn the elbow to face downward. For the wall mount, turn the elbow facing toward the wall.
- Connect the female elbow to the male threaded gas pipe. This pipe should be long enough to take you down through the floor or all the way into the wall, depending on application.
- Connect the male threaded pipe to the female elbow. This will now turn your gas pipe so it is headed in the direction of your main line.
- Connect the female elbow to the male nipple.
- Connect the male nipple to the straight ball valve.
- Connect the other side of the straight ball valve to the gas pipe going to your main line.
- Add your valve flange to your straight ball valve.
Now have a certified gas technician look it over! Once you have the okay, turn on the gas and enjoy your new gas starter for your wood burning fireplace!