How to Repair a Gas Range or an Electric Range

Solve these common stove problems: the gas burner won't light, the oven won't heat and the electric burner won't heat.

Problem 1: The gas burner on a gas range won't light

Repair pros tell us that this is the most common gas range problem. There are two type of gas ranges--the standard gas range and the sealed burner range.

CAUTION

All the repairs and cleaning that we show can be safely done without shutting off the gas to the stove. But don't leave a burner dial on. It'll emit gas into the room. If at any time you smell gas, turn off the gas at the shutoff behind the range or at the main supply near the meter and ventilate the room. Then call your local utility or a service professional for assistance. (Look under “Appliances, Service and Repair” in your Yellow Pages.)

Always unplug your range before working on it!

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Solution 1: Clean the pilot or igniter

A one-minute cleaning will solve 75 percent of burner problems. To get at the ignition system, lift the lid of your stove (Photo 1). Give it a rap with the heel of your hand if it's stuck. If your stove has sealed burners, identified by the igniter or little nub at the back of each burner, the lid won't lift.

But you can clean the igniter the same way (Photo 4). If your burner still doesn't ignite, go to Solution 2. Identify a standing pilot by a small gas tube running to a tip with a hole at the center of two burners (Photo 2). If the pilot (flame) is burning, skip to Solution 2. Identify spark ignition (igniter) by the ceramic nub either under the top (Photo 3) or beside the burner in a sealed burner range. It clicks when it's working.

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Solution 2: Clean the burner assembly

This takes five minutes. Clean the burner assembly the same way for both spark ignition stoves and standing pilots. You'll need a small diameter brush. We purchased a tube brush from a drugstore.

Appliance parts stores have them too. If you have sealed burners, you’re limited to cleaning only the burner ports (Photo 3). The other parts are sealed so they won’t get clogged.

Set the assembly in place and try your burners. If they still won’t ignite and you own a spark ignition stove, go to Solution 3. If you have a standing pilot, raise or lower the flame height slightly by turning a small setscrew located on the small gas line feeding the pilot. Consult your owner’s manual or call a pro to help find this screw and to tell you the proper setting for your range.

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Solution 3: Check the spark ignition system (electronic ignition)

Switches, control modules or igniters can go bad on a stove with electronic ignition. Use the following guide to test these devices.

  1. Check that the stove is plugged in, there is power to the outlet, and the circuit breaker hasn’t tripped. Spark ignition stoves need electricity to power the igniters. If your oven light turns on, you have power.
  2. Test if the switch (Photo 1) is at fault by turning a functioning burner to the “Light” position while simultaneously turning the one that’s not working to “Light.” If the burner that wasn’t working now comes on, the burner has a bad switch. See Photo 1 for instructions on replacing a switch.
  3. One at a time, turn each burner dial to “Light” for three seconds, then off again. Watch the igniters to see if they spark while you’re doing this. (Turning off the kitchen lights may help you see them.) Replace the module (Photo 3) if none of the igniters sparks. This is a common problem. (See “Tips for Buying Replacement Parts)
  4. Call in a pro to test the igniters. Igniters rarely fail, but they are difficult to test.

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Problem 2: The oven won't heat

Before you open your wallet and call a professional to repair your oven:

  • Reset your “time cook” function if your oven has one. They are often set wrong and prevent the stove from coming on. Service pros see this problem often, much to the homeowner's embarrassment!
  • Make sure the stove is plugged in and you have power to the outlet. Electronic ignition systems and some standing pilots need electricity to operate.
  • Check the oven ignition fuse (Photo 1). You’ll need your owner’s manual to locate it.
  • Check the pilot, if your oven has one (Photo 2). If it's out, clean and relight it according to the manufacturer's directions. If you're unsure how, call a service pro.

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Problem 3: An electric range burner won't heat

If your range has a burner that's not working, chances are you can fix it without any special tools. To diagnose a burner problem, go through the steps in order. If the burners still don't work, call a service professional for help. Our list should take care of 95 percent of the problems that could occur with a burner. If you see burnt wires, have a pro look at the range. It could indicate a bigger problem.

  1. Check the burner for wear. If it's pitted and scorched (Photo 1), replace it.
  2. Check the connections for a solid contact (Photo 2).
  3. Remove a functioning burner of the same size and try it in the socket that's not working. If that burner works, replace the bad burner with a new one.
  4. Inspect the burner socket. If it's charred or scorched, replace it (Photo 3). There are two main types of wire connections. Sockets have either screw connections (Photo 3) or wire leads that you attach to the range wiring with the supplied ceramic wire connectors.

Tips for Buying Replacement Parts

Before you go to purchase a part, write down the brand name, model number and serial number of the range. The range will have an engraved plate with this information usually located under the cooktop lid or on the back. Look in the Yellow Pages under “Appliances, Parts” for a supplier. Call first to be sure the part you need is in stock. Or order over the Internet.

CAUTION

Always unplug your electric range before removing a burner.

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