Gas cook top igniter repairs: this article explains the cause, diagnosis, and cure of cooktop or gas range igniter problems that cause continuous clicking, or failure to ignite gas burners or a gas oven properly.
How to fix clicking igniters on a gas cooktop. Some of these conditions are dangerous. The gas igniter troubles discussed here apply to some models of gas appliances including gas stoves, gas ovens, and gas cooktops where an automatic or pilot less gas ignition system is used.
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These articles focus on basic procedures that help spot trouble with an appliance first by simple visual inspection.
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Photo at left: the igniter module for a Jenn-Air countertop gas cooktop. We replaced this item as well as the wiring and individual igniters to cure chronic gas burner ignition problems: endless clicking. Details of that repair are found in the article below.
When a gas-fired heating appliance stops working the problem may be with the igniter, not other gas valve components.
Our photo (below) shows an LP gas stove top burner igniter sparking away.
Watch out: we disassembled the stove top burner to make this photo. But don't turn on your gas stove with burner parts missing - the flame won't ignite properly and you could cause a dangerous gas explosion.
Start by checking the wire connected to the igniter itself. If the connection is loose or damaged that could be the problem.
If the ceramic igniter is cracked or damaged it may be shorting to ground and unable to ignite the gas flame.
We have seen recurrent problems with some stove-top gas igniters whose wires ran across the interior pan of the stovetop where they rested in water or cleaners used to clean that appliance.
The result was a shorted igniter wire and constant clicking that drove the homeowners crazy.
Turning on the gas burner is supposed to cause it to ignite automagically. But instead the burner blows, blasts, or never ignites, and the igniter clicks continuously. Or the burner will ignite, but the igniter won't stop clicking.
There are plenty of explanations around about how these gas flame igniters work and how they are smart enough to turn off after the flame ignites.
Below we focus on how to repair igniters that are just maddeningly bad behavers.
We are using a gas range top for this example but these defects or some of them can occur on other automatic or electronic ignition gas fired appliances.
Uneven or yellow gas flame: check for gas burner top that is not properly in place. This is not an igniter problem but a flame problem. Similarly if the burner ignites the flame should be mostly blue with a yellow tip. If the flame is mostly yellow the air mixture or fuel adjustment or regulator adjustment is improper. This is also not an igniter problem.
The gas burner top is askew as we show in our photographs below, perhaps after it has been removed (say for cleaning) and has not been properly and squarely replaced. Look closely to be sure your stovetop parts are properly seated, especially if they were removed for cleaning.
Notice those two pins sticking up on the burner base in our photo at below-right? Notice those two half-round indentations in the burner cap (shown upside down in the lower portion of the same photo ?) Those tell you how to align the burner top properly. Even a small misalignment can prevent proper gas burner operation, and like many gas appliance defects, may be unsafe too.
The gas flame igniter becomes soiled with food spillage, dirt, grease - and can be gently cleaned with a toothbrush and perhaps scouring powder.
The gas flame igniter becomes cracked and short-circuits or fails intermittently - the repair solution is to replace the igniter element with a new one.
Cooks who often allow pots to boil over and spill water on the hot igniter may contribute to this failure - we're not sure, but in our opinion it's a poor product design that cannot tolerate typical events that occur in the home.
The gas flame igniter wiring becomes wet by using too much liquid when cleaning the stove top. In this case the igniter may fail to stop clicking, or may fail to ignite the burner until the wiring has dried.
Use less liquid and don't spill liquids into the stove top interior. We have seen these wires short and melt inside the stovetop.
The gas igniter wire is loose, broken, shorted, damaged: If there is no spark at all and if the appliance has power, the problem may be a loose or disconnected wire between the control module and the igniter, or a wire that has shorted.
The gas flame igniter control module has failed: the igniter control module on modern gas appliances including stovetops is a solid-state device inside the appliance (usually inside the stovetop for cookstoves and ranges) that creates the high-voltage electrical pulse sent to the ceramic-and-metal igniter that you see at the edge of the gas burner.
You should see a strong white spark between the igniter pin and the metal edge of the gas burner.
If you see a weak yellow spark or no spark at all AND if you have already checked the igniter wire and its connections, I suspect that the module has failed and needs replacement.
Watch out: as our photos below illustrate, water or other liquids spilling onto electrical wiring inside of a range top can cause a short circuit.
At above left we show the interior of this gas range top. The blue box at top center is the control module. At above right you can see that one of the stovetop's internal connectors was shorting to the metal body of the range enclosure.
Our photo at above left shows the shorted stove wiring connector, and at above right, the arc-burn into the steel of the stove top interior, confirming that the connector was shorting to the grounded stove body. Water leaking into the range top interior caused this failure. We re-wired the appliance (using the proper high-temperature-rated electrical wiring materials) and we made sure that the wiring was supported off of the metal range top interior surfaces to prevent a recurrence of this problem.
Watch out: when disassembling appliance parts - some stove gas burner parts are made of soft case metal. If in disassembly or reassembly you strip the threads on these parts you may not be able to reassemble the gas burners safely and those larger part assemblies will need replacement.
The gas igniter control module may itself fail and need replacement. This is a more costly part, and in our experience is less often the problem than the items above.
Before tossing out your air conditioner or coffee maker and even before calling an appliance repairman for your washing machine, refrigerator, or clothes dryer, here are some things to check:
Electrical power: Is the appliance plugged-in?
Is there electrical power where the appliance is connected and is the receptacle itself properly wired?
Appliance instruction manuals often contain a troubleshooting guide: have we found and read the installation and troubleshooting procedures given by the manufacturer for this appliance? Often there are trivial problems that are easy to correct but that are not obvious before reading the instructions.
Controls & switches: Are the appliance controls and switches properly set? Is a control or switch acting funny: loose, makes a sparking noise, used to "click" but no longer does?
Hidden reset buttons: Is there a reset switch or button on an electric motor or elsewhere on the appliance
Noises or smells: something is burning? Is the appliance making a funny noise or smell.
Watch out: Unplug the appliance immediately to avoid a fire.
Appliance inspection for electrical problems: do we see something that looks burned when inspecting an appliance circuit board, wire, or switch?
Watch out: as we cite
at DISHWASHER SNAFUS, poking around inside or beneath an appliance may risk electrical shock.
Appliance inspection for leaks:
for dishwashers (DISHWASHER SNAFUS),
garbage grinders (GARBAGE DISPOSAL vs SEPTICS),
water heaters (WATER HEATERS),
washing machines (WASHING MACHINE OIL LEAKS),
do we see or smell oil or do we see water leaking?
Above left: gas range and other cookstove repair parts on display at the Tuesday Market, San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico. At above right: an antique Rainbow Gas Stove (photo courtesy of anonymous reader).
8/24/14 Sue Deaunym said:
So, my Maytag gas range was installed about 6 years ago. Its never been exactly "right," and from time to time, the igniter would begin clicking every 10 seconds or so, even when the burners were fully off. (Unplugging the range for a few minutes usually remedied the problem.) The gas range replaced an electric one.
But we've always had some funky electrical problems in the kitchen that we've never before associated with the range. An outlet strip wired into the outlet box into which the range was plugged would occasionally shock people who touched it.
I inspected the outlet box and the strip, and could find nothing wrong with it. Checked with a volt meter, it seems OK.
I installed an underground gas line to a propane tank last week, and the guy hooking it up aid he was shocked on several occasions. So I went under the house and measured 120VAC on the copper pie leaving the house. Disconnecting the range the stray current disappeared.
Looking at the starter devices at each burner, I see no problem.
Thanks for this excellent tip about gas flame igniters - it's not one I'd considered and it makes perfect sense. Some igniters depend on proper electrical grounding for proper operation including the sensing of when gas or an actual flame is present. I'll add your notes to the article above.
It sounds as if there is a wiring error or accidental short circuit in your range.
Start by turning off power to the range - that will turnoff power to any clock, control board, the igniter module, and the igniters and their wiring.
Next, remove the range top burner parts and top itself sufficiently to expose the wiring to the igniters.
It's certainly possible that the stray current was a factor in damaging those components.
Sometimes I also see these other problems that cause problems with clicking gas igniters or igniters that in fact don't ignite the gas flame:
Keep us posted.
2016/08/02 LC said:
Hi, my stove top burners light perfectly BUT they wont stop clicking (and I have thoroughly cleaned everything!) help!
LC if a gas flame igniter won't stop clicking the problem is almost always going to be one of the defects we list in the checklist below. I list these checkpoints in order of ease, leaving the most difficult and most-costly (igniter control module replacement) until las>
If the gas flame does not ignite, start your diagnosis by reviewing our gas burner troubleshooting tips beginning at GAS COOKTOP IGNITER REPAIR
Watch out: make these checks with the gas off and surfaces cool enough that you can touch them without getting burned;
Watch out: if you smell gas and/or suspect there are gas leaks do not keep trying to ignite the burner(s) as you could risk a gas explosion. See GAS LEAK DETECTION, LP / NG
Continue reading at GAS IGNITER DEFECTS & REPAIRS where we discuss diagnosing and fixing gas ignition problems at LP or natural gas heaters, furnaces, water heaters and other appliances, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
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