7 Reasons Why Your Gas Burner Isn’t Turning On

Fred's Appliance
September 22, 2020
Oven Repair

Having a gas stove is incredibly useful. Some home chefs swear by cooking on gas instead of electric burners. There is something inherently satisfying about the click of the igniter and the whoosh of the gas lighting in a ring around the burner. Cooking on gas is a clean, even heat if you take good care of your gas cooktop stove. However, it can also be upsetting when you click that knob only to see no flare-up and hear no whoosh. Worse, you can’t cook on a burner that won’t light.

Why is your gas burner not turning on? The answer could be one of a variety of options that, together, all influence the performance of each gas burner on the stove. Our team has fixed more than a few gas stoves with this problem so we’ve put together a comprehensive list of reasons and solutions for a gas burner that won’t light. 

The Stove is Unplugged

First, check to see if your stove has power. We know, it seems incredibly obvious. You would know if your stove was plugged in or not, right? In reality, some of the longest, most frustrating repair investigations have ended in an eye-roll, realizing that a pet or child pulled the plug before your burner wouldn’t start the first time.

Take a moment and peer around the stove. Make sure you can see the plug firmly set into the wall. If it’s not firmly set, reach back and push the plug into the wall firmly. 

The Gas Line is Closed

Even less likely but equally important to electricity is a lack of gas. It is possible that someone closed your gas line behind the stove. This could have been a seemingly friendly prank, an uninformed safety precaution, or done as a move-out step from the last person who lived in the house. While it may seem impossible, entertain the possibility of the gas line being closed. Peer behind the stove and ensure the gas line valve is switched open, not closed. The oval or lever-shaped knob should be perpendicular (right angle) from the pipe, not parallel. 

The Gas Didn’t Light

There is a very possible and mildly dangerous possibility that the gas is running freely, but it didn’t ignite. This puts you at risk of filling the room with explosive gas, in which any spark can cause much larger damage. You will know if the gas is running unlit by the soft hissing or wind-like sound of gas pouring out the burner cap.

When this happens, turn the burner down and then off immediately. Do not allow a burner to release gas without lighting it for any length of time. It is vital that as little un-burnt gas escapes into the air as possible. If you turn a burner, hear the hiss, but don’t see fire, then turn the burner off quickly. You can experiment with the controls, but do not let a gas valve just stand open in the room. 

The Pilot Light is Out

There are two ways for a gas stove to light the gas. Some stoves, especially older and luxury models, include a pilot light. This is a tiny flame maintained inside the cabinet of the stove, underneath the stovetop. This tiny flame is used to light the gas ring when it’s time. When you turn the switch, a line to the pilot light is connected just in time for the gas to light.

Naturally, if the pilot light goes out in this kind of stove, your burner can’t light. Every owner of a gas stove with a pilot light should learn how to check and re-light that pilot any time it goes out. Good models of stove, fortunately, protect their pilot light and it’s difficult to blow out in most cases. 

Electrodes Shook Loose

The other type of gas stove lighting is electrical. An electric spark from a line of electrodes is used to ignite the gas when it is released from the burner. Electrodes are a line of white dots inside the burner, underneath the burner caps. Look closely at your line of electrodes for any sign that something has come loose. Look for loose electrodes, loose wires, or electrodes that seem to have been knocked out of place. Line up everything you can, if relevant, and try the burner again. 

The Burner Caps or Valve is Clogged

If it’s not the stove or the igniter, then it might be the gas itself. With a gas stove burner, the gas is channeled through grooves in the underside of the burner cap. The valve or the cap itself can have gotten clogged with grime and food residue over time. If either become clogged, then the gas can’t flow through. If the gas can’t flow through, it can’t form a ring and it isn’t present to be lit by the igniter.

You can easily remedy this problem by washing the burner cap. A little warm water, soap, and a soft brush will quickly clear the burner cap. You can reuse this method to also clean any other grimy aspects of the stove while you’re at it. Check that the valve is clear, then return the burner cap and test your burner again. 

Burner Gaps in the Wrong Position

Another possibility is that the burner cap is in the wrong position. In some stoves, it is possible to replace a burner cap so that the valve and the grooves don’t line up. If this is true, then the gas can’t actually get into your burner and the valve is still effectively (or mostly) closed. If you can’t find any other reason, try checking and properly rotating the burner caps on top of each burner, then test again.

—This guide should have your burner or burners glowing blue and heating food again in no time. However, if your gas cooktop burner still isn’t lighting, we’re here to help. Contact us today to consult on the maintenance needs of your stove and how an appliance repair technician can help.

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