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Troubleshooting Your Gas Lamps


Gas Mantle v. Open Flame Burner

Helpful gas lamp maintenance & troubleshooting tips to keep your gas lamps bright, beautiful, and operating safely.

Elegant and easy to maintain, gas lamps offer a unique design element to home exteriors. On rare occasions, you may find yourself needing to troubleshoot your gas lanterns to identify whether professional maintenance or repair is needed. While we recommend reaching out to a local plumber or gas specialist, we’ve outlined a few easy tips to keep your gas lamps bright and beautiful. 

Basic Gas Light Troubleshooting: Where to Start

Side-by-side image of a gas mantle lamp and an open flame gas lamp made by American Gas Lamp Works
Gas Mantle Lamp v. Open Flame Gas Lamp

There are two basic types of gas lamps and lights: gas mantle lamps, which use a specialized wick to create light when supplied with gas and ignited, and open flame gas lamps that work without a wick and burn gas directly. Fuel and flame are two things both types of gas lamps need to run properly, and though your gas lamps shouldn’t require much maintenance, small issues that arise may be solved by looking at those sources first. 

Fuel

Gas lanterns run on two types of fuel — either natural gas or liquid propane, depending on the style. Parts of the gas lamp can become obstructed and cause your lamp to burn improperly. Here’s what you can do if this is happening: 

  • Clean the burner tip: If using a gas mantle burner, turn the gas off and remove the gas light mantle. Gently slide a felt pipe cleaner through each mantle burner tip and the air shutter ring holes in the burner base at the bottom of the tube to clear out any soot or debris. Be sure to use a new gas light mantle after removing the old one. If using an open flame burner, run a piece of dental floss through the cooled slot in the tip of the brass stem and rub it with a soft cloth to loosen any soot or debris that may have settled or be stuck in this pathway. 
  • Check the bug screen: Bug screens exist to block insects from getting into your gas lantern. If the screen becomes obstructed, there won’t be enough oxygen in your gas lamp and the flame will be smothered. Check your bug screen for obstructions and use air to clean it. If it won’t come clean, replace the bug screen. 

If you’ve tried these tricks and your gas lamp is still not burning properly, it’s time to call a professional. Here’s what they should check: 

  • Look for gas line issues: Gas lights will only work properly if the gas line supplying the fuel is at least 3/8 inch in diameter. If for some reason a smaller gas line must be used, its length can be no more than eight feet. A licensed plumber can check and fix incorrect gas line measurements. 
  • Check the gas light regulator: Your gas light should have a regulator in the gas line — if one is already installed, have it inspected by a professional using standardized testing equipment. If using Natural Gas, a 7” water column of gas pressure should be used. If using Liquid Propane, an 11” water column of gas pressure should be used. If your light does not have a regulator, one should be installed by a professional. Without a regulator, too much fuel can flow through to the gas light, making the air/fuel mixture too rich. 

Fire

An outdoor extinguished flame can be hazardous, in addition to the costs of wasted fuel. 

  • Manual & electrical ignition: With manual ignition, your gas lamp is lit with a flathead tool and a long lighter. With electronic ignition, your gas lamp is lit with a light switch or timer, remotely creating a spark over the gas and igniting the flame. You cannot use a lighter to ignite the gas lamp’s flame if the manual burner or valve is broken and will need to have them replaced. If your gas lamp has an electronic ignition module that has stopped working, it’s best to have a certified electrician inspect and replace it.

With our American Gas Lamp Works Limited Warranty, the aluminum housing and posts of your lamp have lifetime coverage. The natural gas burner assembly and electric socket assembly are covered for five years, GasGlow® LED for two years, the powder-coated finish is covered for one year against peeling and cracking, and the copper/brass housing is covered for 90 days. Glass and mantles are not covered under the warranty.

Common Questions Around Gas Lamp Maintenance 

Q: My open flame keeps blowing out, what do I do?

  • To reduce the risk of blowouts in your open flame natural gas lamp, consider working with a local certified gas specialist to making the following adjustments:
    • Confirm that the gas valve is set between 50-75% open. Often times, customers/installers will open the valve 100% to achieve the greatest flame, but this can create an air pocket between the burner tip and the bottom of the flame, which can cause frequent blowouts. Most often, simply turning the valve back until the bottom of the flame is touching the tip of the burner resolves this issue.
    • Clean the burner tip regularly by running a piece of floss through the cooled slot in the brass stem. If any debris has settled or is stuck in this pathway, the gas may not be flowing properly, which can cause more frequent blowouts.
    • Consider purchasing a Wind Guard. This physical accessory slides over the burner to add an extra layer of protection from extreme wind. It does not hinder the look of the flame and can easily be added to the burner by you or your installer.

Q: How do I clean a gas lantern tip?

  • If using a gas mantle burner, gently slide a felt pipe cleaner through each mantle burner tip, and the air shutter ring holes in the burner base at the bottom of the tube to clear out any soot or debris. If using an open flame burner, run a piece of dental floss through the cooled slot in the tip of the brass stem and rub it with a soft cloth to loosen any soot or debris that may have settled or be stuck in this pathway.

Q: How do you turn off or disconnect a gas lamp to troubleshoot?

  • All of our gas lamps include a manual ignition valve in the collar of the fixture. The gas flow can be manually controlled at this point with a flathead tool (like a screwdriver). To turn the gas off, simply close the valve with a quarter-turn of your tool, turning the valve into the 3 o’clock position. To disconnect your gas lamp from your main gas line, work with your gas professional to turn off the main supply so that the valve in the lamp can be disconnected from the mainline inside the post, pillar, or wall.

Q: Do I need to change my mantle? If so, how frequently?

  • A damaged mantle should be replaced as soon as possible. Beyond replacing damaged mantles, we recommend that you replace your mantles at least once per year, ensuring that your lamp remains bright and fuel-efficient. For more information, check out our page on gas lamp mantle maintenance

Q: How do I clean my open flame gas lamp?

  • You should clean your open flame gas lamp burner tip at least twice a year. To do this, run a piece of dental floss or use a wire brush through the cooled slot in the tip to remove any debris or soot that’s settled in the burner tip, and follow that by rubbing it with a soft cloth. 

Q: Who can I reach out to if my gas lamp issue persists?

  • If you have tried troubleshooting and are still having issues with your gas lamp, call a local plumber, professional gas lighting specialist, or HVAC provider. If you purchased American Gas Lamp Works lights, reach out to us directly for warranty information.

These tips and tricks should help you care for and troubleshoot issues with your gas lamp. For other issues and questions, check out our Frequently Asked Questions. For the quickest resolution, calling a local plumber/gas specialist for an appointment is the best thing to do. If you purchased an American Gas Lamp Works product or are interested in purchasing, please reach out to us directly!



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