Can you diagnose my gas stove burner that won't light?
April 14, 2014 12:03 PM   Subscribe

One of the burners of my gas stove does not go "click click click" when I turn it to "light". It does light if I turn it on and then light any of the three other burners. Can anyone diagnose the problem? Any DIY fixes?
posted by xo to Home & Garden (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
pop off the lid and see if there's any black soot build-up anywhere (usually in a pile near the pilot light, though yours has electrical ignition) get rid of it and try again
posted by sexyrobot at 12:26 PM on April 14, 2014

What model of stovetop is it? Can you link us to the manufacturer's website or something?

Anyway, sounds like you have a piezoelectric starter so it is not a problem with any pilot light. I would guess that you have something blocking the gas to the area with the starter - did you spill anything on it recently? Have any pots boiled over?

In any event, wait until everything cools off, remove the metal grate, and then take that burner apart (often you can just lift the top off). Clean it out with a pipe cleaner, maybe wash it down with soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and let it dry completely before you re-assemble it and try again.

If you can point us to some pictures, perhaps we can make more specific suggestions about what to take apart, etc.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 12:27 PM on April 14, 2014

Since the igniter works, it must be a problem with the switch.

Here's someone's idea of how to fix it, though I imagine how to actually get at everything must vary from stove to stove.
posted by aubilenon at 12:27 PM on April 14, 2014

Ocasionally we have a cleaning lady that scrubs down our house and she invariably puts the wrong pans and "diffusers" (no idea what the right term is but it is the lid to the burner that makes the flame spread out) on the wrong burners. All four of our burners are different sizes and variations on the pan and diffuser equasion will produce the symptoms you describe. I don't know exactly what the pan underneath has to do with it but I assume it has something to do with air flow and oxygen to gas ratio.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:30 PM on April 14, 2014

Getting the igniter wet when cleaning will kill those off (usually after repeatedly getting cleaner on them). I asked a repairman about mine that does it and he said sometimes they start working again, but without changing cleaning habits they will need get to the point where they will just need to be replaced.
posted by cecic at 12:32 PM on April 14, 2014

Sounds like the electric switch in the valve assembly that triggers the sparker/electric-ignitor thing is broken. The ignitors on all the burners are probably wired together, and turning any one valve to the "light" position triggers them, but on the one burner's control the switch isn't closing properly.

Depending on the stove you might need to replace the valve assembly, I'd guess, unless the switch is somehow separate or can be repaired (like it's just bent out of place or something). No way to tell without looking at the stove and the valve. At least on some stoves you can replace the switches separately from the valves.

If it's just you alone in your house, you could limp along for a while the way you're currently doing (I've used a stove with no working electric ignition system for a while, it was fine). But if you have other people in the house I'd get it fixed promptly, because you don't want a situation where someone turns that burner on and inadvertently just leaves it unlit but with gas flowing.

And the igniters on most modern gas stoves aren't piezoelectric, they use electricity from the mains, run through a transformer to get the correct voltage. (Piezoelectric ignition systems are more like your gas grill where you push a button to produce a single spark.) There's a whole bunch of circuitry in the stove which is ultimately connected to the wall outlet, so be careful to unplug the stove from the wall or turn off the breaker (and turn off the gas too) before working on it.

On preview, aubilenon beat me to the same link that I found about repairing ignitor circuits. I can't vouch for its accuracy or anything though.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:33 PM on April 14, 2014

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