What's wrong with this burner on my stove?
March 31, 2015 6:55 PM   Subscribe

One of the burners on my stove has started burning very differently from the others. Here's a pic for comparison: http://i.imgur.com/fWFpEOy.jpg. The low, all-blue flame in the background is set to the same point on the knob as the wild, yellow flame in the foreground. Why is it doing that?

My first guess would be low gas pressure for just that bad burner in the foreground. The others all burn at the same level, even with all four going at once, and the one bad one burns the same way even if none of the others are going, so I don't think it's a matter of overall gas pressure. The burner doesn't look different from the others, so I don't think it's obstructed gas vents. The stove is used every day, and this burner was almost certainly used in the last week, without seeing this problem. What could be going on?
posted by paul_smatatoes to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are the caps on the burners removable? I get something similar when one of them is knocked off of its position and the gas burns unevenly.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:58 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

Is the metal "cap" in the center of the flame removable (e.g. for cleaning)? Mine are, and I get similar effects if one of the caps is knocked out of place slightly.
posted by mbrubeck at 6:58 PM on March 31, 2015

I would presume that the top of the burner which is removable for cleaning has been slightly knocked and is not sitting correctly. This would produce an uneven burn. When it has cooled down check to make sure everything is in the proper place.
posted by camerasforeyes at 6:59 PM on March 31, 2015

Possible reasons:
1) The cap is uneven. Remove cap, inspect for defects, and replace. Make sure it is stable when replaced.
2) Some sort of dirt or residue on the cap
posted by troytroy at 6:59 PM on March 31, 2015

Caps are not removable, none of them budge, neither the normal-functioning nor dysfunctional ones. The dysfunctional one is about as clean as the rest- some little bits of mineral residue, but not much.
posted by paul_smatatoes at 7:04 PM on March 31, 2015

I think that's what happens when there's not enough air in the air/fuel mixture that reaches the burners. Have you recently lifted the top of the stove to clean underneath, around the burner tubes? There should be a shutter on the tube going from the valve to the burner, that controls the amount of air that's admitted. It could easily be knocked out of position.
posted by jon1270 at 7:44 PM on March 31, 2015

Yellow flames indicate incomplete combustion which can have two causes: Too much fuel for the oxygen present, and not enough oxygen for the fuel.

it really could be either, but from my experience dinking around with propane grills and cookers, the air inlet for that burner is probably clogged. usually on those, it's from mud daubers making a nest in there; hopefully not an issue in your house.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 7:44 PM on March 31, 2015

Looks like too much air mixed in with the gas. There will be adjustable shutters under the burner. The gas needs to be mixed with air at the right ratio or it wont burn efficiently.

Depending on the model the burners either pull out - you lift the burner and pull forward, or your whole range top may lift up. If you've never lifted it, you might have to give it a good yank to get it to move. It will be hinged at the back.

Google your stove make and model and then "adjust air shutters".

Or on preview, what ArgentCorivd said.
posted by Zedcaster at 7:46 PM on March 31, 2015

If you don't know how to fix it yourself, I think this is the kind of thing your gas company will check out (and probably fix) for free.
posted by three_red_balloons at 8:16 PM on March 31, 2015 [2 favorites]

What can also happen is that there's ash build-up around those adjustable air shutters (which makes more ash, which makes more ash...) usually right by the pilot light or thereabouts. Pop the lid up, follow the line back, look for a little pile of black ash, brush it away. Easy.
posted by sexyrobot at 8:46 PM on March 31, 2015

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