How to Troubleshoot a Gas Stove Igniter That Keeps Ticking

On your gas stove, electric igniters spark the surface burners to produce an adjustable flame. When you light the burner, the igniter produces a characteristic clicking or ticking sound, which stops when the flame appears. Numerous issues -- ranging from simple fixes to complex parts repairs -- can cause your igniter to keep ticking after the flame appears or to tick continually without igniting a flame. While some troubleshooting tips apply universally, always turn to your manufacturer-provided user manual for model-specific instructions.

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The Simple Stuff

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Sometimes an off-center burner cap prevents the igniter from sparking a flame. Remove the cap and center it on the base, aligning it with the pins on the base, if present. Likewise, check the caps for markings -- such as "L" or "R" -- that indicate proper placement on the cooktop's burners. If igniters continue to tick without ignition, ensure the area is free of drafts, breezes or liquids on the cooktop. Igniters will still click even if there is no gas, so ensure the gas supply is open to remedy nonstarting burners.

Cleaning Up

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If your gas stove's burner ports are clogged, the igniter may continue to click, but debris may prevent successful ignition. To address this issue, use a metal pin or straightened paperclip to gently clear the ports of debris and buildup. Do not enlarge the port or use a wooden toothpick, which may break off during cleaning. Similarly, the igniters may tick even when the range's knobs aren't set to ignite if there is moisture in the burner ports. Turn off the gas supply and dry these burners with cool air from a hair dryer before relighting the pilot and attempting to start the stove once again.

Parts Problems

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A weak igniter or intermittent igniter spark indicates the need for a new spark module, which you can access behind your stove's rear panel. Unscrew the box-like module and move the wires from the old module into the corresponding sockets on the replacement module before securing it and closing the panel. When some burners spark but others don't, your spark ignition switch may need replacement. Remove the cooktop and unplug the four spark switch power supply wires, then pull all four switches off of the burner valves. Install the new assembly by placing the new switches on the valves and connecting them to the switch power supply wires. Bad spark electrodes can also cause constant clicking, but this repair procedure often includes replacing or modifying oven wiring.

Playing It Safe

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Contact your range's manufacturer to order parts if you have appliance repair experience, or to schedule a service appointment with an authorized technician if you are not comfortable making repairs. Always unplug your range and turn the gas shutoff valve off before repair. When accessing the cooktop, remove the burner grates, caps, bases and control knobs. Unauthorized repairs may void any current manufacturer-provided warranties. If you smell gas, turn the gas supply off, exit your home and call your gas supplier once you reach a safe distance.