How to fix stove igniter that won't stop sparking?
August 14, 2017 10:54 AM   Subscribe

I have a four burner gas cooktop with electronic ignition. The igniters won't stop sparking unless the top left burner is burning. What part should I replace?

It's a GE Monogram 30" gas cooktop, Model # ZGU384NSMSS. Here's the Parts Schematic and Listing.

Symptoms:
- when the stove is disconnected from AC power, the constant sparking stops
- when the top left burner is lit, the sparking stops
- at all other times, sparking won't stop

Troubleshooting steps taken:
- I've cleaned the igniter, no dice
- I've disassembled the burner, disconnected, moved entire burner (with igniter) to a different corner, reconnected -- still the top left burner that needs to be lit to stop the sparking
- I've replaced the wire that connects igniter to the ignition controller module (part #318 in the schematic), but it's still the top left burner that needs to be lit to stop the sparking
- I've switched the connections for igniter-to-controller wires, i.e. top right burner was connected to controller port #1 and top left burner to port #2, I flipped the connections ... when I do that it's a different burner that has to stay lit in order to stop the sparking
- I separated the wiring harness (part #323) from the gas valve knobs (part #314), and turned the wiring harness switches independently from the gas valves. I presume these switches tell the controller when the valve is open and the igniters should spark if there's no flame. The sparking speeds up (let's say ~10 Hz) when I activate the switch, but slows down (let's say 3Hz) when I deactivate the switch.

The above tells me that it's the controller (part #318) that must be replaced, but that costs $150. The wiring harness (part #323) costs only $50. Obviously I'd prefer to spend less money if it makes sense...what do you all think?

BONUS QUESTION: Generally speaking, how does the controller know that there's a flame, so that the igniter should stop sparking??? This is both to help troubleshoot and for my own scientific curiosity.

Thanks.
posted by wutangclan to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
If the stove is plugged in a no knobs are turned does it continue to spark and only by unplugging does it stop?
posted by tman99 at 12:16 PM on August 14, 2017


I've heard two conflicting stories on how the igniter knows to stop sparking. Either it's basic heat activation. Or else it's some sort of electrical connection made through the ionized gas of the flame. I don't know which is true, or maybe it's both depending on the stove.
posted by Nelson at 12:19 PM on August 14, 2017


I've heard two conflicting stories on how the igniter knows to stop sparking. Either it's basic heat activation. Or else it's some sort of electrical connection made through the ionized gas of the flame. I don't know which is true, or maybe it's both depending on the stove.

That's for the broiler or oven, not the cooktop. For the OP's situation, the problem will be either a failed switch under one of the burner knobs (most likely) or a short elsewhere in the ignition circuit.
posted by jon1270 at 12:25 PM on August 14, 2017


On more careful reading, the OP's system might be more complicated than the ones I'm familiar with.
posted by jon1270 at 12:27 PM on August 14, 2017


Part #318 has to be replaced. You can get it for $132 at appliance parts places, but I'd try to dealer or distributor first.

I have a stove with a similar, problematic module (in a pro-level Blue Star gas stove). The problem is that the igniter and the plasma flame sensors share a common electrode for each burner, and the flame sensor function is eventually murdered by the high voltage spark that fulfills the ignition function. When the flame sensor can't say "Hey, it's lit!" the igniter keeps on trying: snap snap snap snap snap ...

We contacted the place we bought it, and got a number of "free" replacements (kind of a silent warranty extension for a known bad part). Always had to go to a dealer, though, and always had to demonstrate our technical acumen regarding the diagnosis, and always had to express visible dissatisfaction before they came across with the replacement part.
posted by the Real Dan at 1:12 PM on August 14, 2017


Wish I could mark a "worst answer", i.e. I know you're right but I was hoping for better news :-)
posted by wutangclan at 1:17 PM on August 14, 2017


Actually, on second thought, not sure I've made myself clear. The problem is that the top left burner sparks constantly if there is no flame, regardless of the knob position. Open, closed, etc...doesn't matter. There has to be a flame for it to stop sparking.

Additionally, this cooktop is fancy enough to have LED indicators for each burner. The LED for the top left burner is always on regardless of the knob position.

Any further help is appreciated.
posted by wutangclan at 1:41 PM on August 14, 2017


Can you tell us more about how the igniters normally behave? On my similarly highish-end stove that's maybe 5 years old, the igniters either fire or don't depending only on the position of the burner knobs; there's just a little section of the range of rotation where it sparks, and the rest of the way around it won't spark regardless of whether the flame is actually lit. There are no flame sensors of any kind. So when you say, 'The igniters won't stop sparking unless the top left burner is burning,' I wonder whether you might mean that they won't stop unless the knob for that burner is rotated into the range where it *should* be burning.

At this point my money is still on that burner knob switch, which is part of part 323. It's too bad you can't unplug each individual switch. I'd be tempted to cut it out and see if that fixes the problem, then splice it back together if it doesn't.
posted by jon1270 at 4:21 AM on August 15, 2017


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