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How to fix a gas stove that won't light

You can finally put those matches away.

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Tyler Lizenby/CNET

Gas ranges certainly come with a handful of advantages, such as nearly instant heat, long-term cost savings and, of course, the ability to continue cooking when the power goes out.

But unlike with coil-element or electric stoves, you have to ignite the burners to be able to cook anything on a gas stove.

Fortunately, the problem is usually something you can resolve yourself. Learn why your gas stove won't ignite and how to fix it.

Problem: It's clogged with food debris

Whether it's grease buildup or food crumbs, one of the most common causes for a gas burner that has trouble igniting is debris blocking gas flow to the igniter.

The fix: Begin by removing the grate covering the troubled burner. Next, remove the burner cap, which should lift off with ease. The sealed burner base will either lift off or you may need to remove a couple screws before removing it. Clean the surrounding area with a warm, soapy wash cloth. Soak the sealed burner base in vinegar or warm water and use a stiff brush to remove any debris. Finally, clean any remaining debris out of the burner holes with a toothpick, sewing needle or compressed air. Reinstall the burner, cover and the grill, and try igniting the burner once more.

If this doesn't work, there could be a kink in the gas supply line or a larger issue, and you may want to consult a professional.

Problem: There's a loose connection

While there aren't a ton of moving parts on a stovetop, it is possible for connections to come loose, particularly during cleaning or installation. If the wires which connect the igniter to the control module aren't making a solid connection, you won't get the spark needed to properly ignite the burner.

The fix: First, kill power to the appliance by unplugging it from the wall or flipping the breaker switch. Remove the grate and burner cap from the problematic burner. Remove the sealed burner base and look for loose connections or disconnected wires. Secure any loose connections and reconnect any disconnected wires, reinstall the burner base, cap and grate. Restore power to the stove and test the connection.

Problem: It's a faulty igniter

If you have removed debris from the burner base and secured any loose connections, you may be dealing with a faulty igniter. A quick way to tell if the igniter needs to be replaced is by switching the lights in the room off and turning the control knob to the ignite position. If the igniter sparks yellow or orange instead of a bright bluish-white, you will likely need to replace the igniter.

The fix: Cut the gas and power to the stove, remove the burner cap and use a screwdriver or hex driver to disconnect the burner base. Disconnect the wires coming from the igniter. Usually, igniters use a quick disconnect system so you won't need to cut or splice wires. Use the model number of your stove to determine which replacement igniter you should purchase, install the new part, and replace the burner base, cap and grate. Restore gas and power to the stove and test the burner.

If none of these quick fixes remedy a stubborn burner, you may need to replace the igniter switch, igniter control module or contact a professional for a more in-depth diagnosis.