Why Won’t My Gas Grill Light?

Even a gas grill with all the bells and whistles is useless if it won’t light. This checklist will help you troubleshoot.

Published Categorized as Gear
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When it comes to mechanical devices such as a gas grill, quite a few things can go wrong to cause it to not want to light. There are several troubleshooting steps, and we are here to provide that information to you.

Sometimes you just gotta light your grill yourself, even if it’s equipped with an electric igniter. In other cases, it won’t stay lit even if you do. Here are the most common reasons why your unit is misbehaving:

If your gas grill doesn’t light, dirt and debris may be clogging the burners, the electrodes may be blocked by rust or dirt, the connections could be loose, and moisture from the weather could be preventing it from lighting.

Less common, but nevertheless possible, reasons are a dead battery for the grill’s igniter, a failure of the ignition module, or an old and worn spark generator.

When in doubt, the best thing to do is to create a checklist and go through these items one by one to determine exactly why it is that you’re having difficulty lighting your grill.

The best advice is to start with the quickest and cheapest items first. That way, you will not waste time and money on anything mechanical. (We will help you build that checklist in a moment.)

If you are lucky, you may only have a small problem that can be worked around or fixed with a little elbow grease, and you won’t have to spend a dime. By going through the checklist, you should be back up and running in little to no time at all.

Safe Tips to Follow When the Gas Grill Will Not Light

You should also ensure adequate ventilation to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning if you use your grill in a garage or enclosed space.

Carbon monoxide (chemical formula CO) can build up inside buildings with inadequate ventilation. It can be particularly dangerous because it is impossible for us humans to detect; it has no smell or taste.

If you experience any of these problems with your gas grill, take care of them as soon as possible to avoid injury or damage to the grill itself.

Always remember to follow safety procedures when lighting and working with gas grills. If you are unsure about something or feel uncomfortable, contact a professional before handling anything in the troubleshooting and repairs.

(You can always learn from them and do it yourself if and when your grill experiences the same problem again.)

Always remember that, without adequate ventilation, propane may accumulate in closed areas where combustion takes place. Never store propane tanks inside an enclosed area.

Ensure that the propane tank is not leaking by checking for rust or scratches on the valves or visible leaks around the regulator, hose, and bulkhead fittings. The key is to make sure there is no gas leak in—or around—the grill when lighting it and that everything is off when troubleshooting.

List for Troubleshooting Your Gas Grill

Safety should always top the list no matter what. Now that we have that out of the way, it is time to find out what is causing the grill not to light up.

When your grill won’t light up, go through this list after you have checked for gas leaks and follow in order:

  1. Turn off the grill and wait for the flames to go out;
  2. Remove the cooking grates and burner caps;
  3. Check the orifice for debris or blockages. Clean anything that is blocking the burners carefully;
  4. Check the hose for kinks or damage;
  5. Check the connections for tightness and all the valves for damage or defects.

Another common problem with gas grills is that they will not stay lit. This can be caused by many factors, such as low gas pressure, a dirty grill, or a clogged vent.

When your grill won’t stay lit, you can troubleshoot this problem by following this list:

  1. Turn off the grill and wait for the flames to go out;
  2. Remove the cooking grates and burner caps;
  3. Clean the grill grate and brush away any build-up from the vent. You can use a long stick, like a broom handle or mop handle, to clean the vent if necessary;
  4. Check that the regulator is in good working order;
  5. Turn the grill on again and wait for it to heat up for five minutes before trying to light it again.

If you are still having trouble getting your grill to light, be sure there is no residue blocking the gas flow valve or fuel line, which can happen after years of regular usage.

If this is the case, carefully remove these parts and soak them in an approved cleaner overnight before replacing them and retrying ignition.

The Weather Can Stop Your Grill From Lighting

One of the main reasons a gas grill might not light is due to the weather. If it’s too cold, then the gas might not be able to effectively release from the tank and ignite. Humid areas will keep the burners wet, which could also cause a significant issue in lighting the grill.

Similarly, if it’s too windy, then the flames from the grill might get blown out before they have a chance to take hold. In either case, if the weather is not conducive to grilling, it’s best to wait for better conditions if it does not seem to let up.

Is Your Propane Tank Running Low?

Another factor that can affect whether or not a gas grill will light is how full the propane tank is, which, tied in with the weather, does not help. If there isn’t enough fuel in the tank, there won’t be enough pressure to push the gas out and start a flame.

If you want to be prepared for any grilling situation, you should get an additional propane tank. That way you can fill tank A while tank B is in use, and, if you do not delay filling the tanks up, you will probably never run out of gas again.

The Common Mechanical Issues of a Gas Grill

When a gas grill does not light, a couple of things could be going on within the mechanical devices. Most often, the cause is something simple and easy to fix.

Electrodes blocked by rust or dirt:

The electrode must have electricity flowing through them to ignite the gas. If they are blocked by rust or dirt, the electricity will not pass through them, and the grill will not light.

Wire connections loose:

If the wire connections between the igniter cord, ignition module, and gas valves are loose, this could cause an issue where there is not enough electricity to flow through to trigger ignition.

No battery power to the igniter:

The igniter requires a small battery to create enough spark (electricity) to ignite the grill. If your battery is dead, you can replace it with a 9V battery in most cases.

Note that different brands might require different batteries for their igniters to work!

Old spark generator:

If the spark generator in your grill is old, it may not be able to produce a strong enough spark to ignite the gas anymore. This will require replacing the part using service instructions specific to your grill model.

Ignition module malfunctioning:

The ignition module controls when electricity flows through the electrodes and turns on or off the propane valves.

If there is an issue with it, it can cause an issue where no one or both of them are ever turned on at any given time.

If this malfunctions, you need to replace it by following service instructions specific to your grill model.

The Last Resort

Hopefully, you never have to reach this point, but all good things eventually come to an end. If you tried everything, check with the customer service department according to the grill manufacturer.

See what they say, and if they cannot help you, it may be time for a new grill. If all of the parts and repair work together cost almost as much as a brand new grill, you may as well equip yourself with a new one. That said, we hope it does not go that far.

By Sammy Steen

Sammy, a pen name, is a die-hard carnivore, barbecue whisperer, and self-proclaimed master of the grill.

2 comments

  1. It helped that you mentioned how loose wire connections between the igniter cord, ignition module, and gas valve will stop your gas grill from lighting up since the trigger ignition requires electricity for it to start. We plan to have a barbecue party in our backyard tonight but when I went to check our grill this morning, there seems to be problems with the ignition. I’ll have to get in touch with a professional grill repair service to check and fix the issue as soon as possible.

    1. Anna, sorry to hear and glad this post helped you get to the bottom of it. Hoping you get that grill fixed on time for the party!

      Sammy

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