Should I Turn off My Gas Fireplace’s Pilot Light During the Summer?

great looking gas fireplace in stratford CTOne of the questions that we often hear from new homeowners that we work with in Westchester County and Southeastern Connecticut is “Should we turn off the pilot light on our gas fireplace during the summer?” Whether they are concerned about the cost or safety of leaving the pilot light burning when they aren’t using their fireplace, it is a smart question to ask. There is no simple answer.

There are pros and cons to leaving your pilot light burning throughout the summer. We recommend weighing the risks and benefits before making a decision.

Benefits of Turning Off the Pilot Light

–       Reduced energy costs

The pilot light burns significantly less fuel than a fire but it can cost $8 to $10 a month if your fireplace is fueled by natural gas. If your fireplace is fueled by propane, it could cost up to $20 a month. Turning off the pilot would reduce your energy costs during the summer.

–       No extra heat

Though the pilot light does not produce a large amount of heat, it does produce some. During the sweltering summer months, you may want to eliminate any extra heat in your home. Turning off the pilot light would solve this problem.

–       No need to clean the fireplace glass doors

A sulfur-based film will build up on the glass doors of the fireplace when the pilot light burns for long periods of the time in between lighting the main burners for a larger fire. If you do not wash the inside of the glass doors regularly during the summer months when the burners are rarely used, this film can permanently damage the glass. Turning off the pilot light would reduce the risk of damaging the glass and eliminate the need to clean it during the summer. 

Risks of Turning Off the Pilot Light

–       Moisture damage

Like all fireplaces, moisture damage poses a serious risk to the operation of your gas fireplace. If it gets into the system, it can cause corrosion that can make your gas fireplace malfunction and lead to costly repairs. If your gas fireplace is in a basement with a high humidity level, this risk increases. When the pilot light is on, you do not have to worry that moisture might get into the pilot system since the heat will evaporate it.

–       Insect infestation and expensive repairs

Spiders aren’t just creepy-crawlies, they are also the enemy of gas fireplaces. For some reason, spiders are attracted by the smell of mercaptan, a compound that energy companies add to gas. When the pilot light is turned off, spiders often spin webs inside the gas lines because they are attracted to the smell.  

Spiders’ webs are the second-strongest material on earth. If a spider builds a web inside a fuel line, it can clog the pilot system. The cost of removing the webs and repairing the fuel lines will be significantly more expensive than the cost of burning the pilot light all summer.

–       Keep away the chill on cold nights

Mllford CT interior gas fireplace insert While you might not appreciate the extra heat from the pilot light on a hot day, it can keep away the chill on a cold summer evening.

Turning off your pilot light during the summer can be a smart economical choice if the likelihood of damage from moisture or spiders is low. You can use your own discretion.

If you’d like to find out how common these issues are in your area before making a decision, feel free to reach out to our chimney and fireplace experts at Yankee Doodle, Inc. We have been working with fireplaces since 1976 and we are happy to share our knowledge with you.