One of the top reasons for investing in a gas grill is the ease with which it can be lit so you can be ready for cooking quickly and without fuss. So if a day comes when your gas grill doesn’t light it can be a shock.
But even when you’ve invested in one of the best gas grills there can be issues that mean it fails to light. The good news? They’re frequently easy to solve – and you can often remedy the problem yourself.
Here, we’ve put together the top eight reasons why a gas grill doesn’t light along with expert advice on getting the cooking show back on the road.
8 gas grill lighting problems – and the answers to them
Lighting a gas grill is a straightforward procedure but occasionally you’ll encounter a hitch and it won’t oblige. Issues from the weather conditions to a loose wire can mean it doesn’t work as it should. Find out how to solve your gas grill lighting issues with out guide.
1. There’s no gas
It sounds obvious, but a lack of gas should be the first thing you check for. ‘There are a few reasons why a burner might not be lighting on a gas barbecue, the most common is fuel levels, so always check there is enough gas in your canister,’ says Dan Cooper, head grill master at Weber.
Bear in mind that although most gas grill models can get around 18 to 20 hours of grilling from one 20lb tank, it’s easy to lose track of how much alfresco cooking you’ve done.
If the grill won’t light, check the gauge to make sure the cylinder isn’t empty. We recommend keeping a spare tank ready at all times so you can swap it in and an empty cylinder doesn’t stop a grilling session.
Dan Cooper is the Head Grill Master at Weber and his role involves over-seeing all food related activities. He does everything from developing recipes for the website to training Grill Academy chefs on new courses, as well as working with hotel and restaurant partners. He has a passion for great tasting, uncomplicated barbecue food, and enjoys sharing tips, techniques and inspiration to ensure everyone's barbecues are legendary.
2. Cylinder to gas grill connection problem
While there might be gas in the cylinder, the problem could be the connection between it and the grill.
‘The connection between the propane cylinder and the gas grill needs to be fitted securely to ensure that no gas escapes out of the connections or through any tiny cracks or splits,’ explains Andrew Lovell, product manager of Landmann. ‘When checking your gas hose before connecting make sure that it is in perfect condition and has no defects or imperfections to the tube.
‘On installing, it’s important to check the manual to safely connect the hose and not force the connection, as this could cause stress to the hose and damage the flow of gas.
‘To easily check if there is any gas leaking out of the hose connection, drop the hose into some soapy water and momentarily turn the gas on, if you see any bubbles rising to the surface there is a gas leak and the hose must be replaced.’
3. Blocked burners
Blocked burners can be the cause of a gas grill’s failure to light. This can particularly prove the case following a storage period, so it’s always worth checking the burners haven’t become obstructed by dirt or insects before you use it again for a new grilling season.
Turn the gas off at source before you check the burners to see if they have become blocked and clean them. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for a guide to the burners in your gas grill model, and follow their instructions on how to clean the grill.
4. Dead battery
If your gas grill uses an ignition battery, it may be the case that it’s no longer providing power.
Before you buy a replacement, an inspection is worthwhile in case there’s a visible problem like faulty installation. If the grill continues to fail to light, get a new battery. Take a look the manual to find out exactly what you need.
5. Dirty electrodes
Igniter electrodes are another frequent cause of gas grill lighting problems. Disconnect the gas before inspecting them to stay safe. Look for dirt or rust and remove it using a toothbrush or cotton swab and rubbing alcohol if it looks like it could be the culprit. Allow to dry before testing the grill.
6. Loose wires
Loose wires can be the reason a gas grill isn’t lighting. Again, be sure the gas is disconnected and then inspect the wiring. If there is a loose wire this can be reconnected but beware of damaged wires. Wiring can be replaced but do check the warranty to ensure doing so won’t invalidate it.
7. Faulty ignition
A gas grill can develop a problem with the ignition module itself. If it isn’t clicking when you press the ignition button and you have already checked or replaced the battery and inspected the wiring, it may have failed. Check the owner’s manual as you’ll need a replacement approved by the manufacturer.
8. Weather conditions
Weather conditions can be the cause when a gas grill fails to light. ‘Wind is our biggest foe when it comes to gas grills as it’s difficult to build and maintain high heats in one place,’ says Andrew Lovell. ‘So naturally, our top tip to lighting a grill whatever the weather starts with wind protection.
‘The easiest solution is to angle your gas grill away from the wind. This can also help the gas flow if the wind blows in the same direction as gas to the burners.
‘With light rain, it shouldn’t impact your grilling experience too much, but if there has been significant rain you might notice the igniter failing due to moisture. An easy way round this is using a long stem safety lighter to light the gas. Just be quick and don’t leave the gas going too long.’
Weather problems can also be one of the main reasons for a charcoal grill not lighting too, so keep this in mind if you also have a charcoal BBQ.
Why is my grill clicking but not lighting?
If a gas grill is clicking but not lighting, there can be a few possible issues. Check the burners for blockages – but only after you’ve turned the gas supply off. It’s also important to check the gas cylinder to ensure it is properly connected. It is also possible that you’ve forgotten to check whether there’s gas left in the cylinder, so take a look at the gauge to be sure this isn’t the problem.
Why won’t my gas grill light one burner?
If just one burner fails to light but the other two burners on a three-burner grill are working, it could have a blockage which can be caused by food debris.
Check the owner’s manual for details about the burners on your gas grill but typically you should disconnect the gas cylinder then use a wire brush to get rid of any accumulations in the ports.
There can also be clogs in a burner tube. These can be cleaned with a brush designed for the purpose or using a bottle brush.
Gas grills are safe to use to use, and fairly straightforward to light, providing you have kept your grill in good working order and have sufficient fuel to light it.
Regularly cleaning the grill grates as well as keeping it covered when not in use can ensure it remains free from dirt and debris that might cause problems in the future.
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Sarah is a freelance journalist and editor. Previously executive editor of Ideal Home, she’s specialized in interiors, property and gardens for over 20 years, and covers interior design, house design, gardens, and cleaning and organizing a home for H&G. She’s written for websites, including Houzz, Channel 4’s flagship website, 4Homes, and Future’s T3; national newspapers, including The Guardian; and magazines including Future’s Country Homes & Interiors, Homebuilding & Renovating, Period Living, and Style at Home, as well as House Beautiful, Good Homes, Grand Designs, Homes & Antiques, LandLove and The English Home among others. It’s no big surprise that she likes to put what she writes about into practice, and is a serial house renovator.
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