Design & DIY

Barbecue won’t light? Here are three fixes

A new propane barbecue, close cropped By Chantal Ringuette/Shutterstock

Got a propane grill that won’t light after sitting at the cottage all winter? Here’s how to get things cooking when you’re miles from a hardware store.

Problem None of the burners light

You’ve hooked up a fresh tank, changed the igniter battery, evicted spiders from the venturi tubes, then disconnected and reconnected the propane tank to reset the regulator. Still no flame? Check the igniter electrode.

With the tank disconnected, lift off the grates and heat caps and look for the bare wire electrode with its end near a burner. Use an old toothbrush or screwdriver to remove spark-preventing gunk near the end of the electrode. You can also bend the electrode a bit closer to the burner to make it easier for a spark to jump the gap. Try the igniter with the grates off. If you don’t see a little blue spark, keep a barbecue lighter handy until you can get a new igniter assembly.

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Problem Some burners light, some don’t

Carbon dioxide and moisture combine inside gas grills to create a very corrosive environment that can rot the crossover tubes between burners, especially at their ends—and then they can fall out of position. Any kind of flexible bare wire can hold up the crossover tube so it works until you take your next trip into town for a replacement.   

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Problem Uneven heat

Uneven heating means some of the burner tube holes are blocked, or a burner tube is rusted through, delivering too much propane out of the gap and none elsewhere. A few passes with a wire brush will usually clear blocked burner holes. Burners that have dropped out of place because the ends have corroded can be wired up where they belong, like the crossover tubes. If a small portion of the tube has rotted, you can sometimes seal it by removing it, hammering the damaged portion flat, then wiring the tube in position until you can get a new one.

This article was originally published in the March/April 2023 issue of Cottage Life.

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