How to Turn on a Gas Fireplace With a Wall Key

Turning on a gas fireplace with a wall key is a straightforward process for most models. With a few simple steps, you can safely ignite your gas fireplace and enjoy the ambiance and warmth it provides.

Locate the Wall Key

The first step is locating the wall key that controls your gas fireplace. This is usually mounted on the wall nearby the fireplace unit, either directly next to it or across the room.

The wall key will look like a light switch plate but is sometimes labeled with “On/Off” or an image of a flame. If you cannot find the wall key, refer to your fireplace manual to identify where it is located.

Turn Gas Supply On

Before igniting the fireplace, check that the main gas supply leading to the unit is turned on. There is usually a manual shut-off valve located near the fireplace.

Make sure the valve is parallel with the gas pipe to indicate the gas supply is open. Turn the valve counterclockwise to open it.

Switch Wall Key to On

With the main gas supply open, you can now use the wall key to ignite the fireplace.

Flip the wall switch to the ON position. This may be up or down depending on the switch style. Listen for a clicking sound indicating the fireplace ignition sequence has begun.

Wait for Ignition

After flipping the wall switch, wait 30-60 seconds for the fireplace to ignite.

You will likely hear a ticking or clicking noise as the ignition device produces sparks to light the gas. This is normal.

Do not immediately flip the switch off if you do not see flames right away. Give the ignition sequence time to complete.

Check for Successful Ignition

After waiting the appropriate time, check that the fireplace is lit by looking for flames. You should see bright yellow-orange flames if ignition was successful.

If you do not see fire, flip the wall switch to OFF. Wait 60 seconds before trying ON again. This allows any built-up gas to dissipate.

Repeat the ignition process a second time if needed. Call for service if the fireplace fails to light after multiple attempts.

Adjust Flame Height

Most gas fireplaces have adjustable flame height controlled by the wall key or a secondary knob.

Higher flame settings produce taller, more vibrant flames while lower settings have smaller, dimmer flames. Adjust this based on your desired ambiance and heating needs.

Just be careful not to turn the flames too low or extinguish the fire completely. Keep visible, steady flames.

Turn Off Gas Fireplace

When you are ready to extinguish your gas fireplace, flip the wall switch back to the OFF position. Listen for the flames to make a light popping or hissing sound as they go out.

Visually confirm the fire is completely out. It is normal to see some residual steaming or smoking from the extinguished flames.

Annual Inspection

It is recommended to have your gas fireplace inspected annually by a professional to ensure proper functioning and prevent any gas leaks or ignition issues.

They will check all components and clean out debris from the firebox that can build up over time. This maintenance helps keep your fireplace performing its best season after season.

Troubleshooting Gas Fireplace Problems

If your gas fireplace fails to operate properly, there are a few common issues to check before calling for service.

Fireplace Will Not Ignite

If the fireplace will not light after flipping the wall switch on, first confirm the main gas supply is open. Then check the following:

  • Battery – The wall switch may run on a battery that needs replacement. Check the manual for battery type and location.
  • Dirty Components – Built up dust, lint or spider webs can interfere with the ignition system. Have a professional clean the igniter and burner.
  • Igniter Failure – The igniter that creates the sparks can wear out over time. A technician can assess if replacement is needed.

Flame Height Adjustment Not Working

If the high/low flame settings seem to have no effect on the fire, it could be a problem with the pilot light or gas valve. A qualified professional should diagnose and repair these types of internal issues.

Strange Smells

Unusual odors like rotten eggs or sulfur coming from the fireplace may signal a gas leak. Turn the fireplace off immediately and contact the gas company to inspect for leaks. DO NOT ignite the fireplace again until the leak is repaired.

Lack of Heat Output

A weak flame that does not seem to provide much heat can be caused by clogged burner ports or openings where the flame emanates. Have a technician clean and inspect the burner component.

FAQs About Gas Fireplace Wall Keys

How do I know if I have a wall key for my gas fireplace?

Look on the wall near the fireplace unit. You should see either a switch labeled On/Off or a rocker switch mounted in a small box. This is the wall key. If you don’t see an obvious switch, check your fireplace manual.

What if my wall key stopped working?

Check that the battery is still good if it uses one. Try pressing the switch several times firmly. If still not functioning, the switch contacts may be dirty or corroded. Use electrical contact cleaner spray or have a professional replace the switch.

Do both wall keys need to be on for dual fireplaces?

Yes, both wall keys will need to be turned on to ignite each side of a dual or see-through gas fireplace. The flames can be controlled independently at each key.

Should I turn the wall key off at night?

There is no need to turn it off unless you want to completely extinguish the flames. Adjusting to a lower flame setting is fine for overnight use. Just ensure the fire does not go completely out unless you intend to relight it later.

What happens if I rapidly flip the wall switch on and off?

It’s best to avoid rapidly cycling the fireplace to prevent gas buildup. Turn it on and wait for full ignition before adjusting the setting or turning off. Flip it on and off deliberately with even pauses in between.

Why does my gas fireplace have two wall switches?

Dual switches often control the burner and fan separately. This allows you to have the flame on with or without the fan running to circulate heated air into the room.

Should my gas fireplace wall switch feel warm to the touch?

It is normal for the switch to feel slightly warm, but not hot. If it feels hot, is discolored or deformed, this could signal an internal electrical issue that should be evaluated.


Operating a gas fireplace with a wall key is very simple once you know the basic steps. By locating the wall switch, opening the gas supply, igniting the fireplace correctly, and adjusting the settings, you can enjoy on-demand ambiance and warmth.

Be sure to have your gas fireplace serviced annually and address any issues promptly that affect performance. With proper care and maintenance, a gas fireplace can provide cozy heat and beautiful flames for many years to come.