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Is my oven going to explode?
September 12, 2010 12:44 PM   Subscribe

What's going on with my gas stove? Is it dangerous? What type of repair person do I need to come fix it?

My husband and I bought a house back in February that came with a four or five year old Frigidaire gas stove. It had been working fine until recently, and now I'm almost scared to use it. Whenever you have one of the burners on and you try to turn the oven on as well, the oven doesn't ignite properly; instead, it seems to fill up with too much gas and then ignite in a big scary "poof" of a fireball. If you turn the oven on without having one of the burners on as well, it doesn't seem to do this.

I have been trying to remember to make sure the burners are off before turning the oven on, but this is often inconvenient, and, really, not the way I want to cook. And I'm now asking here because I was making granola this afternoon and had a burner on and forgot to turn it off and then the big scary poof fireball happened when I turned the oven on and I freaked out. I'm feeling particularly jumpy about this since reading about the gas line explosion in California.

So, what could be causing this? Is there anything I can try to do to fix it? Since I'm scared to mess around with it too much, I can also call a repair person. But I'm not sure who to call: is this more likely to be something an appliance repair person could fix? Or something I would need to call an expert about gas lines to fix? And would that gas lines person be a plumber or someone else?
posted by luazinha to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
 
Why don't you call the gas company? They send out repair people very quickly.

If something is wrong with the gas line, they'll fix it. If it's a problem with the stove, they usually diagnose it and then you can have them fix it or call a repair person.
posted by Ideefixe at 12:48 PM on September 12, 2010 [1 favorite]


It doesn't sound like it's a gas problem -- there's plenty of gas and it's flowing, as you found out. It seems like it's a problem with the igniter of the oven, which means you should try an appliance repair person.

It sounds like it's working fine once this ignition fireball happens, so maybe you could temporarily put something on the oven knob to remind you to keep those stove burners off when you're ready to light the oven. Maybe a tiny little note?
posted by BlahLaLa at 12:51 PM on September 12, 2010


What do you mean by "fireball?" Is that the sound of the gas igniting that you hear going "pfffPOOFfftt" or are actually witnessing a ball of fire?

I think you should call an appliance repair person to assess it. I would not even try to diagnose whether or not there is a safety issue with a gas stove over the internets, of course, but it could be a fault with the ignition system, which would absolutely require an appliance repair person, or something as simple as clogged gas ports, which you could clean yourself.

If the issue was whether you were getting gas to your house, your gas utility company would be the ones to call. They may or may not be willing to assess anything past the exterior wall/meter of your house. If there is an issue with the gas line as it runs through your house, this would likely be handled by a general contractor. Plumbers really only handle pipes for water supply and drainage, including sewage.

Is this your experience owning a gas stove? I only ask because they do make some noises and have some variables can seem alarming but fall within the range of "normal if you know what to expect." You may find it helpful to know a little bit more about how your oven works, this HowStuffWorks is more info than you need, but quite straightforwardly explained. (My first gas stove, it took me a while to figure out that the breeze from my open window was blowing out the pilot lights and dispersing the flames on one side of the burners.)
posted by desuetude at 1:20 PM on September 12, 2010


My stove does this, but the opposite: when the oven is on, the burners get stupid. I haven't tried to fix it yet, but I'm almost sure it is a faulty regulator somewhere in there.

Almost surely, the gas/air ratio is getting thrown off, and the oven doesn't ignite until enough gas has flowed to create a mixture that will ignite, but now there is a lot of gas, so you get the FWOMP noise.

(in my experience, you shouldn't really hear anything from an oven. Maybe a very quiet hissing and a little bit of a lighting noise. But the stovetop burners are usually louder. Any kind of noises indicate an appliance that is out of adjustment.)
posted by gjc at 2:51 PM on September 12, 2010


Forgot to mention: the fact that it acts normally in one state and not in another almost surely points to a problem with the gas regulators (or carburetors or jets) inside the appliance, and not an ignitor or gas pressure outside the appliance problem.
posted by gjc at 2:55 PM on September 12, 2010


When I had trouble with my (brand-new, sears) gas stove, I called the natural gas company. They sent out an inspector, who formally recommended sears replace the burners, which they did. If it had been unsafe, they would have tagged it and turned off the gas service to it.
posted by theora55 at 3:21 PM on September 12, 2010


Call your gas company and ask them this question. Even if they don't send someone out (which they very well might) they will point you in the right direction. My gas company at least will pretty much send someone out for anything vaguely gas related (although it might be a day or two if its not a critical call) and at will at least point you in the right direction if its not their problem.
posted by An algorithmic dog at 3:22 PM on September 12, 2010


Check to make sure a French fry or something hasn't fallen on your burner/igniter. If not then there is a problem with your oven igniter; you need to call an appliance repair person. And you probably shouldn't be using your oven until you have had it serviced.
posted by Mitheral at 3:45 PM on September 12, 2010


We had a repair guy come out this morning and he replaced the ignitor. Thanks for all the help!
posted by luazinha at 8:28 AM on September 15, 2010


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