The Washington Post

Pilot-light switch for a gas fireplace?

Question: I am the original owner of a 15-year-old townhouse. As an option from the builder, I selected a gas fireplace.

However, it’s tedious and awkward to have to lie on the floor to turn the pilot light on or off each winter and spring. Is there a way to retrofit the fireplace so it turns the pilot light on with a remote control?
I know this technology exists with new fireplaces, but can it be applied to my situation? —Gaithersburg

Answer: John Crouch, director of public affairs for the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association, says there are retrofit kits for gas log sets, but he knows of none for actual gas fireplaces. Chris Cavanaugh, owner of the Fire Place, a store in Gaithersburg, says they don’t exist. “The liability of a jury-rigged fireplace — most people do not want that,” he says.

A new fireplace with electronic ignition will cost about $1,500, Cavanaugh says. If you were to use it for as long as you’ve had the existing one, the annual cost of the switch would be $100 a year, or $50 for each time you were able to avoid the hassle of turning the pilot on or off. Thinking of the cost that way may help you decide what to do.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com. Please put “How To” in the subject line and tell us where you live.

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