There are many advantages to having a gas stove, including instant heat and better control over the flame's intensity. However, gas stoves have their own unique maintenance issues, one of which is sometimes the burner will take a long time to ignite or won't do so at all. Here are two reasons why this can happen and how to fix them.
There's Debris Stuck in the Burner Ports
A common reason why one or more gas burners may not ignite is because there is debris in the port blocking the flow of gas. The debris is typically food and can get there in any number of ways, such as from spillovers and even from cleaning. You can determine whether this is the case by turning on the burner and using an external lighter to ignite the gas. If the burner only partially ignites (e.g. flames only on one side) or won't turn on at all, then there is probably something blocking the ports.
Fixing this particular problem is fairly easy. Turn off the stove and wait for it to cool down completely. Shut down the gas to prevent it from accidentally leaking into the home while you're working on the stove. Remove the burner cap, and clean underneath using a non-abrasive scrubber or damp cloth. Wait a little while for the area to thoroughly dry.
Check your owner's manual to locate the ports on your model stove, and use a sewing needle or straight pin to clean them out. Do not use anything bigger, such as a toothpick, because you may accidentally stretch the ports out of shape or the item may break off and permanently clog the outlet.
Once done, place the burner cap back on, turn on the gas, and try to ignite the burner again. If a clog was the problem, the burner should turn on right away. On the other hand, if the burner still doesn't turn on, then there may be a problem with the gas source. You may have a blockage further down the line and should contact a professional appliance technician to diagnose the issue.
The Wiring Has Become Loose
If you're able to ignite the burner manually using an external flame source, then the internal igniter is likely the problem. Although stoves typically don't have many moving parts, sometimes the wiring connect to the igniter may become loose, especially if a person is rough when cleaning around the elements.
To check this issue, you'll need to remove all the grates, burner caps, and other parts on top of the stove so you can access the base of the burner where the wires are. Consult your owner's manual to determine how to do this with your model stove. Check for disconnected wires or things that look out of place and reconnect according to how it looks in the manual. Replace the burner base, cap, and other parts, and then try to ignite the stove.
If you're sure the wires are connected but the stove still won't turn on, the igniter may be faulty. This is generally an easy and inexpensive fix. Igniters cost about $40 to $80 and can be purchased at any appliance or home improvement store. To replace, simply disconnect the old igniter and put the new one. If you're not comfortable performing this repair, feel free to contact an appliance service in your area for assistance.
These are the most common reasons why a burner may not work. There may be other issues going on with your stove that may not be as easy to diagnose. It's best to connect with an appliance repair tech in your area for help fixing your stove.