Your stove is the centerpiece of your kitchen – and when it’s not working properly, you and your family could be stuck eating take-out dinners until it’s fixed. Fortunately, however, many stove problems are easy enough to fix yourself.
Whether you’ve got a gas or an electric range, you can often fix broken burners or troubleshoot an oven that won’t light without the need to call in a repair technician. Sometimes, it’s as simple as giving the burners a quick clean. Other times, you might need to order a replacement part for your stove. But either way, you’ll save the cost and time of waiting for a repair person and paying them for their services.
Repairing a Gas Range Burner that Won’t Light
A range burner that won’t light is one of the most common problems homeowners face with the appliance. How you approach the problem will depend on whether you have a standard gas range, in which the top opens up on a hinge like one of your old classroom desks from grade school, or a sealed burner range.
On a sealed range, you will see no gap between the burner and the stove, and no seam around the front of the range near the top. The igniter will also be accessible from the top of the stove, and there will be no pilot light. If you have a sealed range, you may need to call a repair technician.
If your stove is the kind that opens, you may be able to do so by wiggling the range lid back and forth until it pops open. On some models, you may need to slide a putty knife under the range hood on the left and right sides to pop it open. You don’t need to disconnect the gas to work on your gas range, but you should be careful not to turn the burner dials. Unplug the stove in order to prevent ignition from electric igniters. If you smell gas or hear it flowing, double check your burner dials to make sure they’re off.
For stoves that open on top, use a needle to clear soot and food debris out of the pilot hole, taking care not to widen the hole. Use a toothbrush to brush away debris from around the pilot hole. Find the gas igniter – a small, ceramic nub between two burners. Brush off the igniter to clear it of debris, and clean the metal ground above it, too. Close the lid and test the burner.
If you open up your stove and find that the pilot is still burning, or if cleaning the pilot and igniter doesn’t work, you will need to clean the burner assembly. You may need a small screwdriver to remove the burner assembly’s shipping screws, if they are still there, but you don’t need to reinstall them. With screws removed, the assembly should lift off. Use a dry bottle brush to clean debris from the flash tube, and a needle to clean debris from the flash and burner ports. Reassemble the burner and test it.
If your burner still isn’t working, you may need to replace an electrical component. Check that the stove is getting electricity by plugging it in and turning the oven light on – if it comes on, you have power, but if it doesn’t, the problem may be with the breaker or circuit. Test the switch by turning a functioning burner and the broken burner to the “light” setting at the same time; if the broken burner comes on, it needs a new switch.
If that’s not the problem, you may need a new module. Turn off your kitchen lights, and with the top of the stove open, turn each burner dial to “light” one at a time and watch to see if the igniters are sparking. If they aren’t, you need to replace the module. You can purchase new stove parts from your range’s manufacturer; for example, search on the Vulcan website for Vulcan stove parts for your model of stove.
Once you’ve exhausted all of these troubleshooting avenues and still haven’t fixed the burner, it’s time to call a technician. You might need to replace the igniters, but since testing them is more difficult, you may need to call a technician to do so.
Repairing Your Gas or Electric Oven
If your oven won’t heat up, the problem may be a blown fuse. Some ovens have their own fuse located under the cooktop, or behind the oven. Find and inspect this fuse; replace it if the element is burnt out.
You should also check and clean the pilot light, which is accessible beneath the panel in the bottom of the oven or even underneath the oven. Clear the nozzle of debris with a needle and toothbrush. Clear debris from the slit or tube on the underside of the burner that connects the pilot light to the burner itself.
Repairing Your Broken Electric Burner
If one of your electric burners has stopped working, you may just need to replace the burner itself. You should be able to remove the burner by lifting and pulling it – they plug in much like a double-pronged plug into any outlet. Some burners are held in place by a screw, however. Unplug your electric stove before removing any burners.
Is the burner loose in its socket? You may be able to repair it by gently spreading the prongs for a tighter connection. Use a wire brush to clean out the socket. If the socket itself is scorched or damaged, or if replacing the burner doesn’t work, you may need to replace the socket, too. You can unscrew the old socket from the range top, unscrew the range wires, and then screw on a new socket.
The vast majority of problems with gas or electric stoves are easy to fix yourself. Save the cost of calling a repairman – use that money to reward yourself for being a DIY magician.