Why Your Gas Grill Is So Hard To Light

And what to do about it.

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Why is our gas grill so hard to light?—Larry R., Tallahassee, Florida

First, find out whether it’s a gas-flow problem or a spark problem. Try to light the gas as you would normally, but instead of pressing the piezo igniter button, use a long match or a long-reach butane lighter. If the grill lights and burns properly, you’ve got an ignition problem. It could be a worn-out spark module, a loose wire or other connection, a dead battery, corrosion or dirt on the igniter tip, or cracked porcelain on the igniter element.

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If the grill doesn’t light using the match, check for low or no gas flow. Your problem could be as simple as a low gas tank. Or it could be worse: gas plumbing clogged by insect nests, burners clogged by rust or spilled food, a malfunctioning gas regulator, or a tripped excess-flow valve inside the regulator (the disc-shaped thing on the gas hose).

This valve is particularly troublesome. Designed to prevent the fire risk associated with excessive flow caused by a gas leak, these valves are easily tripped. People do it all the time, accidentally, by opening a burner valve before opening the tank valve. When they open the tank, the valve interprets the outrush of gas as a leak. This trips the valve, which is located inside the gas regulator. Fortunately, you can reset the valve by shutting the grill down, disconnecting the tank from the grill, opening the grill’s burner valves to drain trapped gas, reconnecting the tank, and going through the normal and correct lighting procedure.


This appears in the July/August 2018 issue

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