Because there are no moving parts to speak of, a gas cooktop on a gas range is usually trouble free. This Fix-It Guide on gas cooktop repair tells how a gas cooktop works, what can go wrong, how to identify a gas cooktoop problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives instructions for how to disassemble a gas cooktop, how to relight a pilot light, how to clean a pilot light, how to adjust pilot height, how to check and replace igniters, how to clean burner ports, how to adjust a burner’s air shutter, and how to check and replace the internal range plug.
How Does a Gas Cooktop Work?
A gas cooktop is a cooking appliance that uses surface elements heated by natural gas or propane. A gas cooktop is often part of a large appliance called a gas range or stove that also includes a gas oven; if the oven is giving you trouble, see the Gas Oven Fix-It Guide. Some gas cooktops have a pilot light that stays lit all the time, waiting for a burner control knob to be turned on. Newer models have spark igniters that ignite the gas when needed. Air shutters control the mix of air and gas that flows to the burners.
Refer to Gas Oven Fix-It Guide for an illustration of a typical gas cooktop and components.
What Can Go Wrong with a Gas Cooktop?
A pilot light can go out. An internal range plug can malfunction. An ignition module can fail. Burner ports may need cleaning. An air shutter may need adjusting. Any repairs to a gas cooktop that involve the gas supply lines should be handled by a professional service technician.
Note that newer gas cooktops may have digital controls that aren’t serviceable by the consumer. Check the owner’s manual for troubleshooting tips and how to get plug-in replacement parts as needed. Some units also have diagnostic tests and error codes that can point you to the problem.
How Can I Identify a Gas Cooktop Problem?
- If you smell gas, turn off the burner controls, ventilate the room, and relight the pilot (see below).
- If you smell gas with all the pilots lit or with electric ignition, turn off the gas, ventilate the room, and call the gas company immediately.
- If a surface burner doesn’t light, check that the cooktop is plugged in and inspect the igniter and ignition (see below). Relight or adjust the pilot (see below). Clean the burner ports and clean the surface burner (see below). Adjust the air shutter (see below).
- If the surface burner pilot doesn’t stay lit or the flame is uneven or low, clean the pilot opening (see below) and adjust the pilot (see below). Finally, adjust the air shutter.
- If the surface burner flame is too high, noisy, or blowing, reduce air to the flame by adjusting the air shutter (see below).
- If the surface burner flame is yellow or sooty, increase air to the flame by adjusting the air shutter (see below).
- If the clock, lights, or igniters don’t work, check the internal range plug (see below).
What Do I Need for Gas Cooktop Repair?
- Sewing needle
What Are the Steps to Gas Cooktop Repair?
Make sure you know how to shut off the gas to your cooktop for repairs and in case of emergency.
Disassemble a gas cooktop:
- If the cooktop has electric components (clocks, lights, and spark igniters), unplug the unit for safety.
- Remove the burner grates and set them aside.
- Lift the front edge of the cooktop and prop it up with the support rod to access the inside of the cooktop.
- As needed, remove fasteners holding the cooktop in the cabinet to remove the cooktop.
Relight a gas cooktop pilot light:
- Turn off all cooktop controls and prop open the cooktop.
- Place a lighted match near the opening of the pilot, located midway between the two burners.
- If the pilot light doesn’t stay lit, clean or adjust the pilot (see below).
Clean a gas cooktop pilot light:
- Remove the metal shield covering the pilot light, held in place either by tabs or fasteners. (This many not be necessary on all models to gain access to the pilot opening.)
- Insert a sewing needle in the pilot opening and move it up and down to remove any obstructions.
Adjust a gas cooktop pilot height:
- Turn off all burner controls and prop open the cooktop (see above).
- Locate the pilot adjustment screw on the side of the pilot, on the pilot gas line, or behind the burner control knob.
- Turn the screw counterclockwise to increase the size of the pilot. The flame should be a sharp, blue cone, about 1/4 to 3/8 inch high.
Check and replace gas cooktop igniters:
- Turn on the other burner served by the same igniter. If the igniter sparks, the first burner control is faulty. Clean the tip and retest. If it is still faulty, continue with step 2.
- Trace the igniter cable to a terminal on the ignition control module at the back of the range.
- Remove the cover and disconnect the igniter cable.
- Replace the igniter with a duplicate.
Clean gas cooktop burner ports:
- Verify that the flash tube lines up with the burner ports and with the pilot or spark igniter. Adjust as needed.
- Use a sewing needle to clean the burner ports opposite the flash tube.
Don’t clean burners with steel wool pads. Steel wool leaves behind small particles of metal that can short out the spark from an electronic ignition and prevent ignition of a burner. Instead use an abrasive cleaner and a nonmetal scouring pad.
Adjust a gas cooktop burner’s air shutter:
- Turn off all controls and raise the cooktop (see above).
- Locate and loosen the air shutter.
- Turn the burner to its highest setting.
- Open or close the shutter until the flame has a sharp, blue cone, about 1/4 to 3/8 inch high, then tighten the adjustment screw.
- Turn off the burner, re-tighten the shutter screw, and replace the cooktop.
Check and replace a gas cooktop internal range plug:
- Turn off all controls and raise the cooktop (see above).
- Disconnect the internal range plug, often located at the rear of the cooktop.
- Inspect the plug terminals and straighten bent terminals as needed.
- Replace the internal range plug if the terminals are burned or otherwise damaged.