Many people have been in this situation: they come home at the end of the day, hungry, and get ready to prepare a meal only to discover that there’s something wrong with the stove—it just won’t turn on.
The go-to solution is usually a call to the repair service center to schedule someone to come in and fix the problem, and being satisfied with cold cereal or a pizza delivery for dinner.
But repairs can be costly, especially the home service kind, as well as inconvenient—requiring someone to be home for the visit of the repairman. But here’s the thing—many problems with electric or gas stoves can be solved through do-it-yourself techniques that are simple and easy.
As in everything, find the cause as to why your stove won’t work, and then apply whichever of these fixes apply. You will be surprised at how simple oven repairs can be.
Safety note: the repairs below may be safely done without shutting off the gas, although doing that first is still the best way. You must, however, put the knob on the “off” position to prevent gas from being released into the room while you are doing repairs. If so, immediately shut off the supply of gas and call for a professional to help you.
Problem Number 1: The Gas Burner Refuses To Ignite
This is the number one problem for both types of gas ranges—sealed burner and standard gas ranges.
Quick Fix 1: The Pilot or the Igniter Must be Clean
Standard gas stoves have tops that can easily be lifted, but if it’s stuck, use the heel of your hand and give the lid a firm knock and clean the igniter and the pilot.
This fix will only take a minute or so. Taking a needle, pierce the hole in the pilot and gently scrape away soot, dirt or food remains, being careful not to widen the hole.
Take a toothbrush and remove soot and other debris away from the pilot. When this is done, light a match to ignite the pilot, close the lid and test your burners.
For stoves with sealed burners whose tops won’t; lift, you will need to look for the igniter, a small nub made of ceramic found between two burners, or at the back of the burner.
When you’ve found it, use a toothbrush to remove the dirt surrounding the igniter—usually remains of food that boiled over.
Use the toothbrush for cleaning the metal over the igniter wire; otherwise, it will not spark. Then you can proceed to test the burner by turning it on. A clicking sound by the igniter indicates that it’s working.
Quick Fix Number 2: Clean the Burner Assembly
This process, which is the same for standing pilots and sparks ignition stoves, will take about five minutes. A tube brush with a small diameter, which you can buy at drugstores or hardware stores, is needed.
Please note that only the burner ports in sealed burners need cleaning since the rest of the mechanism is sealed and so will not be affected by clogging.
How to do it: remove the burner assembly from the support arm. Insert the brush into the flash tube and remove the dirt and debris inside.
A repairman might use water to clean this area, but this is not recommendable as it could cause the metal of the tube to rust. Find the flash ports and clean them, inserting a needle through.
Repeat with the burner valve ports. Afterward, clear away the dirt with an old toothbrush. Return the assembly and test your burners.
Quick Fix Number 3: For Stoves with Electronic Ignitions, Examine the Spark Ignition System
Test the switches, igniters and control modules on your electric ignition stove, if it does not light.
- Test the power source. Is the stove plugged and received power? Could there be a problem with the circuit breaker? Is there a light inside the oven? If so, power is not the problem.
- Check if the switch is faulty by testing two burners at a time. Put a working burner on “Light” while turning on one that isn’t working on “Light” as well.
If the non-working burner switches on, it’s got a bad switch and must be replaced. Take off the cover of the burner, along with any screws. Take the wires away from the terminals and put them into the new replacement switch.
If the wires are in a pressure clamp, unscrew them first, and replace the cover after installing the new switch.
- Put each burner on “Light” for three seconds, turning them off immediately, while observing the igniters for sparks. If they don’t, the module needs replacement.
The modules can be found when you follow the switch wires all the way to the source. It’s a very small box sized 2 x 2 x 3 inches. Take away its screws and slide it forward. Take the wires from each terminal, and carefully replace with the new module, reattaching it with the screws when done.
- You will need the assistance of a repairman for testing the igniters, as this is complicated.
Problem Number 2: No Heat in the Oven
Try the following fixes when your oven refuses to heat
- Reset your “time cook” setting. If the setting is wrong, the oven will not work.
- Check the power source for the oven (especially those with standing pilots and electronic ignitions) as it may need electrical power
- Find your oven’s ignition fuse, and change it if it has burned out
- If the oven has a pilot, it may need to be cleaned and relit. You’ll probably find it beneath the panel in the oven.
Clean it, making sure it’s not lit. Insert a needle into the end of the pilot to clear it, and then use a brush to remove any other dirt.
There is also a tube under the burner that may need cleaning—it connects the gas ports to the pilot. You may need a repairer to do this.
Problem Number 3: When Your Electric Range Burner Won’t Heat
This may be the easiest of all. If it still doesn’t work after following all the steps below, call your repairman, especially if you see any burnt-out wires anywhere. However, these steps should take care of many of the problems. Note: make sure you unplug the stove before replacing burners.
- Examine the wear and tear on the burner. It needs replacement if it’s scorched or pitted. Pull out the plug of the range, remove the burner for its socket and change it.
- If the problem is with a burner connection, tighten it if loose, but handle it carefully, as to not crack the heating element. Use a wire brush to clean the socket, put the burner back in, and test it.
- Take a working burner and try it in the socket of the non-functioning burner. If it works there, the burner itself needs replacement.
- Check the burner socket for scorching and charring, which call for a replacement. Remove the screws to replace the plugs.