The gas fireplace in my living room has been acting up lately… when it gets hot it has developed the habit of turning off the gas for a few minutes before it turns back on as it was before.

A few more data points: the pilot light was always on, and the fan (which is controlled by the temperature) stayed on as well.

The thing that almost everyone around me would do is call up the service folks for fireplaces. And with that would come a couple of hundred dollars fee.

That’s not what I do.

Let’s debug this problem.

The symptom is as if I had turned off the fireplace with the switch.

There is obviously problem going to the system since the fan is on. Likewise, we had just replaced the thermocouple a couple of years ago… and if that had failed then the pilot light would also go out.

The cause is the circuit with the switch.

The easy first path is just to apply some contact cleaner to the switch and the connectors around it. Heating causes things to expand, and if there’s some bit of oxidation nearby… where the switch contacts… then that’s the cause. I also cleaned off the connector jacks as well in case that’s the problem.

It’s amazing that just a generation ago someone would be doing this themselves. And now we’re just stuck with us not knowing how to do anything. It’s sad really.