Is your gas grill igniter not working? It’s a common problem with gas grills but it’s usually an easy fix. Let’s do some quick troubleshooting and get that grill lit!
You’re all set to grill up a juicy steak or some frozen hamburger patties for dinner. You step outside ready to cook, go to start the grill, and nothing happens. You try again and again but the burners just won’t ignite.
What do you do?
Well, there’s a few different things that could be causing your grill igniter not to work. In most cases, this is a simple problem you can fix yourself in just a few minutes.
How Do Grill Igniters Work?
Grill igniters are very simple devices that allow you to safely light your propane grill. When you open the valve on the gas tank and turn on the burner, gas travels through the regulator and to the burners.
At the burner where the gas comes out is an electrode. The electrode is what generates a spark and lights the gas. Some grills have a separate electrode at each burner, while others have just one electrode and use carryover tubes to funnel gas to the rest of the burners.
Each electrode is connected to a wire that runs to the spark generator. When you push the button attached to the spark generator it produces an electric charge which travels through the ignition wires to the electrode, where it creates a spark that ignites the gas and lights your grill.
There are two types of gas grill igniters and it’s important to know which type you have,
Piezo igniters are manual and don’t have a separate power source. They have a button to press or a knob to turn, and when you do so a spring-loaded hammer hits a quartz crystal which produces the electric charge. If you push the button and hear a single, loud snapping sound it’s most likely a piezo starter.
Battery-powered starters use the voltage in a battery to produce the electric charge. When you push the igniter button of a battery-powered starter you should hear a steady “click-click-click” sound.
Which type your grill uses will depend on the manufacturer and model you own.
How To Fix A Gas Grill Igniter That Isn’t Working
Let’s go over the most common igniter problems and how to fix them. We’ll start with the easiest solutions, just follow the checklist below until you’ve found the one that fixes your igniter problem.
The battery is dead or corroded.
The most common cause of a faulty igniter is a dead battery. If you press the button and don’t hear the signature clicking sound, try popping in a new battery. I’ve done this for both my Weber Genesis and my Blackstone flat top. Typically you just unscrew or pop off the button to expose the battery underneath.
When you take the battery out inspect it and also look at the battery contacts which connect the battery to the electronic igniter. If you see corrosion on the battery contacts like in the image I took below, you’ll need to clean it.
Corrosion on the battery contacts will block the battery’s voltage and prevent it from generating a spark.
You can clean it with some water, baking soda, and a cotton swab. You can also attach a small piece or sand paper to a cotton swab or pencil and use that to clean away the corrosion.
The electrodes are dirty.
Your gas igniter’s electrodes sit right on or next to the burners, so it’s not uncommon for them to get covered with grease and food particles over time. When that happens your igniter won’t be able to produce a spark.
Use a cotton swab and some rubbing alcohol to clean any gunk off the electrodes. If you see signs of corrosion, use some sandpaper to gently clean it off.
There’s a problem with the gas flow.
What if the igniter is clicking as expected and you can see a spark by the electrodes, but it still won’t light?
When that happens it indicates a problem with the gas flow. Are you out of propane? Are you sure the valve is opened and the burner knob is open?
If so, check the regulator hose and make sure it isn’t pinched and blocking the flow of gas.
If all looks well, make sure the regulator’s safety mechanism isn’t tripped. I’ve written about this previously but basically you have to reset the regulator by disconnecting it, waiting a minute, and then reconnecting it.
The ignition wires are loose.
The ignition wires carry the electric charge from the spark generator to the electrodes. Over time they can come loose and when that happens the charge won’t make it to the electrodes.
Disconnect the wires from the igniter box and then reconnect them to make sure they’re securely in place. You might have to use a screwdriver to remove a metal plate that protects the igniter.
The igniter parts are wet.
If you’re grilling in the rain, the igniter could get wet and when that happens it won’t spark. It’s like trying to light a camp fire with wet wood. Just not going to happen.
If this is the case, you can still use the grill but you’ll need to light it manually with a match. The igniter should work again once it dries.
The igniter needs to be replaced.
Gas grill igniters are made to last for years but they’re not invincible. If all else fails you might need to buy a replacement and swap it in for the old one. Amazon has pretty much any type of igniter repair kit you need.
How To Replace A Gas Grill Igniter
Since I don’t know what grill model you have I’ll give generic instructions that should work on any type.
- Make sure the grill is cool, all burners are turned off, and the gas supply is shut off
- Locate and remove the igniter box. You may need a screwdriver to unscrew the front panel and loosen the box
- Make note of how the wire are connected so you know how to connect the new ones. It helps to take a picture with your smartphone to use as a reference
- Disconnect the old igniter box and wires
- Attach the wires from the new igniter kit to each burner and connect the wires to the new igniter box
- Screw everything back together and you should be good to grill
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is my Blackstone igniter not working?
If your Blackstone igniter isn’t clicking, the battery is probably dead. Replace the battery and check for any corrosion that could block the flow of power from the battery to the electrodes. Check the electrodes for any debris or grease and carefully clean it with a wire brush or sandpaper. Also check that the electrodes are securely in place and positioned properly.
Are all gas grill igniters the same?
No, there are several types of igniters used in gas grills. Piezo starters have a button or knob and use a spring-loaded hammer to hit a quartz crystal to produce an electric charge. Battery-operated starters use the voltage in a battery to produce an electric charge.
Can you light a grill without the igniter?
If you have a grill igniter that’s not working, you can always light your grill the old fashioned way. Open the valve to the propane tank and turn on one of the burners. Light a long match and hold it close to the burner to light it (do not lean over the grill). Repeat the process for each burner.
If you’re stuck with a broken gas grill igniter that’s not working, don’t panic. Repairing an igniter is usually a simple fix. Just follow the simple steps above and your grill will be working in no time.