Aside from your refrigerator, no appliance is more essential to your daily activities than your stove. So, when something goes wrong and your stove stops working, it’s important to identify the source of the problem as quickly as possible. But identifying the source of the problem can be a little more challenging when it comes to a gas stove.
When dealing with a highly combustible substance like natural gas, it’s always advisable to bring in a trained professional to fix any problem. But understanding and explaining the source of a problem can help the technician expedite any necessary repair, which will get you back to “cooking with gas” sooner rather than later. Below are some of the more common—and not so common—reasons why your gas stove might not be working.
Slow to LightIf a burner on your gas stove is taking a little longer than usual to light, or the flame coming from the burner is more orange than blue, it could be the result of a wet or dirty igniter or burner. If you recently cleaned your stove top, it’s possible you may have gotten the igniter wet, which will prevent the gas from lighting instantly when you turn on the burner. If this is the problem, it's easy to resolved. Simply remove the burner cover and allow the igniter to air dry before trying to light the burner again. Once the igniter has dried completely, it should light the burner instantly when you turn it on.
Weak FlameThe flame on your gas stove should always burn blue, but a flame that’s weak may appear yellow or orange. A yellow or orange flame indicates incomplete combustion, which can release carbon monoxide into your home. This happens when an igniter or burner is partially clogged, causing the level of the gas flowing into the burners to be reduced. If you haven’t cleaned your stove top in a while, grease and other cooking residue can build up and clog the igniter switch or reduce the flow of gas from the burner. This can prevent the burner from producing a blue flame as soon as you turn it on.
If you suspect this is the issue, remove the burner cover and use some warm water, soap, and a cleaning cloth to clean the area in and around the affected burner (a mixture of warm water and dish soap that contains a degreaser should breakup any built-up cooking residue). While you’re at it, you might as well give all the burners a good cleaning to avoid the same issue later on. Once you’ve cleaned in and around all the burners, make sure they’re thoroughly dry to avoid leaving excess water on any of the igniters. Keeping the burner covers off for about 30–40 minutes after cleaning will allow the igniters to dry completely.
One Burner Not LightingIf one of your burners stops working completely it’s probably one of two reasons: completely clogged portholes in the burner itself or a misaligned burner cap. To identify the problem, remove the burner cover and do a visual inspection of the burner to see if you notice anything on or around the burner portholes. If you see a blockage, use the cleaning process mentioned above to clear any material that may be blocking the flow of gas to the burner. A good cleaning should open the clogged portholes and allow gas to flow freely when the burner is turned on.
Another possible cause for a burner not lighting is a misaligned burner cap. If the burner cap isn’t properly aligned, the burner will not ignite. This often happens after the stove is cleaned and the burner cap is accidentally put back in the wrong position, so always make sure you check the burner cap alignment after cleaning. If the cap is properly aligned and the burner is clean but it’s still not lighting, then it’s time to call in a professional to diagnose the problem.
Flame Starts, Then StopsIf a burner on your gas stove lights easily but then goes out, it may be caused by your stove vent. A downdraft vent system can affect the stability of the flame coming from the burners and cause the flame to be extinguished. If you suspect this is the case, either decrease the downdraft vent blower or increase the burner setting. If neither of these adjustments solve the problem, call a trained service professional to diagnose and resolve the issue.
No Burners LightingIf none of the burners on your stove are igniting, you probably have a bigger problem than clogged burners. However, just to be sure, remove all the burner covers and do a visual inspection. Try cleaning in and around the burners to see if this resolves the issue. If the burners still don’t light after cleaning, the pilot light on your gas stove may be out. If your stove has an electric igniter and you recently lost power, you’ll need to reset the circuit breaker that supplies electricity to your stove. Once you reset the breaker, try lighting a burner. If the burner ignites, problem solved. If not, it’s best to call a service technician to diagnose the problem.
If your stove doesn’t have an electric igniter and you suspect the pilot light is out, don’t try to light or adjust the pilot light yourself. Call a trained service professional to get your stove back up and running. Use this opportunity to have a technician perform a thorough maintenance check on your stove and oven to ensure everything is in proper working order.