Some cooks prefer gas ranges to electric, while others fear gas poisoning or explosions. Gas stoves come with features such as safety valves and electric ignitions to lessen the risk of an accident. These parts sometimes wear out, so it's important to pay attention to smells or odd stove behavior and call a repair person as soon as you discover a problem.
Most gas ranges have a safety valve that regulates the flow of gas through the stove. The range's thermostat controls whether the valve is open or closed. When you turn on the burner, the pilot heats up. When the pilot gets hot enough, a sensor in the thermostat opens the valve to allow gas to flow through. When the thermostat cools down (e.g. when you turn off the burner), the safety valve closes again. This prevents gas from flowing through the stove when the stove is not in use.
Most modern gas stoves have an electric igniter. This reduces the amount of gas the stove uses. Instead of a gas flame that is always lit, this igniter provides an extra safety check. When you turn on the stove, electric current flows through the igniter. When enough current builds up in the igniter, it opens the safety valve, allowing the hot igniter to light the gas burner. This system requires gas in only the last step of the ignition process; in addition, gas flow is more quickly cut off, as the igniter loses power as soon as the burner reaches the temperature you set it to.
If You Smell Gas
Never try to resolve gas leak problems yourself. If you smell gas, turn off the stove immediately and vacate the area. Call your service technician and/or the gas company to get someone to come check and fix the stove. Do not light flames near the stove until it is fixed.
Jack Ori has been a writer since 2009. He has worked with clients in the legal, financial and nonprofit industries, as well as contributed self-help articles to various publications.