I want to sell a freestanding propane fireplace that came with the house I bought. I'll be replacing it with a wood-burning insert, and the house uses electric heat otherwise, no other propane used. I also hope to sell the propane tank, but for now I only have an interested buyer for the propane fireplace.

There's a 200lbs propane tank hooked up to the fireplace and it supposedly all works but it was not tested during inspection. The propane tank has a gage reading just over 20% full. I understand this is the minimum to safely leave a propane tank. Still I wanted to test the propane fireplace, but I'm finding it doesn't light. All seems good otherwise, visually inspecting and in terms of knobs and hookups. The propane tank gave a spurt of pressure relief (psst sound) when first opened - has been closed for months, through hot summer and cold winter. Smelled some gas after that spurt, closed the tank. Few minutes later, opened tank back up and no smell, kept the tank opened. Tried propane fireplace but despite following instructions and getting ignitor sparking, pilot does not light. So I closed the tank back up.

What are the best next steps to test these things before replacing the propane fireplace with an insert? A few follow-up questions come to mind:

Could it matter that the propane tank is only 20% full? Is it worth getting it filled and testing again before calling a technician for the propane fireplace?

Can propane tanks be sold partially-full, like if we filled it to 50% to test the fireplace? It's already >0% full for storage.

I'll call a propane company and/or local fireplace dealer to learn more and move forward on this too. Wanted to get some other opinions on here as I proceed. Thanks.

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    What aspect are you trying to test exactly? Moving the fireplace to another location would require that it be re-plumbed and tested for leaks afterward anyhow.
    – gnicko
    Jan 21, 2023 at 1:41
  • Think most places that like safety, propane tanks(large) cannot be moved with propane in them, need to be empty. There usually is a shut off valve near the device also, besides the tank valve.
    – crip659
    Jan 21, 2023 at 1:42
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    The propane company will send two trucks, one tanker to empty and one to transport, not necessary at same time. If fireplace is not lighting with both valves open and following the instructions for lighting, then might want to have it serviced/cleaned. Probably just some dirt or something. Might take five minutes for the propane to go though/fill the pipe.
    – crip659
    Jan 21, 2023 at 2:00
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    @cr0 It's pipes and valves. There isn't a lot to go wrong...assuming it isn't leaking now. If it is leaky now you could be asking for trouble. Uninstalling it and moving it would require that the plumbing be rebuilt and re-tested for leaks in its new installation...making your test irrelevant. If you have propane in the tank you should be able to get the fireplace to light. If it doesn't that suggests the gauge is faulty (the indicator is stuck) or, more likely, there's crud in the line between the tank and the fireplace. Adding more propane is just a waste of time and money.
    – gnicko
    Jan 21, 2023 at 2:10
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    Beware before you go selling that tank: 200 lb tanks are usually the property of the propane supplier, since they are small enough for truck transport and are generally "swapped" rather than "filled-in-place" - that also means that transporting them completely full is perfectly normal.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jan 21, 2023 at 2:32

1 Answer 1


Since it's been shut off for a long time, there may be essentially no propane in the lines, so it might take a while for enough propane to actually light to make it from the tank to the stove (depending on the length of the line.)

If I read correctly, you smelled propane near the tank. You don't mention smelling it while attempting to light the pilot.

  • Correct about the smells. You'd expect faint propane smell at the fireplace while trying to light the pilot, before/until it's lit, if propane is reaching the fireplace?
    – cr0
    Jan 21, 2023 at 13:50
  • Not using propane much I was definitely on the conservative side of leaving it open / waiting for a smell. Will try again later today
    – cr0
    Jan 21, 2023 at 13:51

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