How To Repair Your Gas Logs


This is a short article on how to repair your gas logs when they don’t work properly, without having to hire an expensive professional repairperson, thus saving yourself an expensive repair visit.

This problem developed with my gas logs purchased from Lowe’s Home Improvement store in 2004.  What happened was that the fire would burn for about 15 minutes and then cut itself off.  It could then be relit after cooling for about 15 minutes or so.

The first step was to return to Lowe’s and purchase a thermocouple.  This is a flexible wire about 30” or so in length with a sensor on one end and a screw-on fitting on the other.  The thermocouple is designed to protrude into the pilot flame on a unit that uses a pilot to ignite the burner.  Not all units use a pilot.  Some use a spark igniter (electronic).  When the thermocouple has aged, it will show signs of burning out and appear shorter and may stop functioning in the way it was designed.  When this happens, the pilot will typically not light or will not stay lit.  We presumed this to be the problem and thus began the effort of disassembly of the logs to replace the thermocouple.  All of the artificial logs were laid out on a paper so as to keep the floor clean.  Then the thermocouple was examined to see out to remove it. 

As I was attempting  (unsuccessfully) to remove the old thermocouple, my partner read the original instructions that came with the logs and discovered a paragraph in the trouble shooting section that mentioned that a partially clogged gas valve as being one reason that the unit might shut itself off.  When that was brought to my attention, a quick look with a flashlight revealed dust in the valve opening.  Since this is a natural gas valve, the orifice was quite large and therefore capable of collecting dust.  I simply blew out the dust with my own lungs (no mechanical equipment necessary); lightly sanded one of the electrodes used to cause the spark  (mechanical spark), and turned on the pilot flame.  Bingo!  We had solved the problem by simply blowing out the dust.

A quick reassembly of the logs into position and a return of the spark grid and the unit was once again working.  We saved a repair call charge of at least $75 to $100, depending on what the charges might have been, and we have a thermocouple which can either be returned to Lowe’s for a full refund or kept with the logs for future use when it may really go bad.