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Jan 14, 2010 07:18 AM

Oven doesn't light but burners work.. any thoughts?

Hi all
after a quick search of this board, here the situation:

We have a GE gas stove with electric ignition, probably about 15 years old (it came with the apt)
Used the oven last night without any problem to make some fries. Later on I turned it back on to make some slice and bake cookies and it never turned on. Now the oven was still a little warm from the earlier use so I didn't notice it right away. The gas burners work fine, and there was no gas smell from the oven. It just didn't turn on.

Tried again this morning and still no oven. No noise, no gas smell, nothing.

Anyone have a similar experience? I will call for service after the weekend, but just hoping that this was something DH or I could tackle ourselves

Thanks in advance... any links would also be appreciated (the GE site seems to be mostly for newer appliances, I might have to dig deeper there)

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  1. You need to get your ignitor assembly replaced. My oven comes in for heavy use, and at 17 years old, I have had to replace mine 2x in the past four years. My repair bill was a little over $100 both times (I live in a pretty rural area, so that could be a little cheaper than other parts of the country.)

    9 Replies
    1. re: itsbubbles

      I have a gas oven that was installed when the house was built in 1964 that uses a gas pilot light and it is still going strong, never a single repair.. New technology in many cases is less reliable than old. My mother had a GE refrigerator that was 45 years old and had run continuously for the entire time. The only repair it ever needed was to replace the rubber door gasket. I left it in the house when I sold it, so I don't know if it would still be running today.

      1. re: lazycook

        Thanks both of you for the quick replies!
        Lazycook, first thing I did was call my grandpa and his answer about the gas pilot was very similar to yours... his gas stove with pilot has been running for over 40 years.

        itsbubbles... I thought it would be the ignitor, but I'm perplexed as to why no gas. If the gas came on I would have just used a match (very carefully of course). Must be a safety feature to keep me from blowing up the building.

        So I guess I'll just call for service, maybe even convince DH it's time for a new stove.


        1. re: iluvcookies

          If you, or anyone you can grab, is at all can have a shot at replacing the unit yourself. It DEFINITELY sounds like the oven ignitor.

          I lived with a "problem child" gas stove for too long.

          I found the part number for the ignitor, ordered it. Then went to and found detailed descriptions...step by step...of how to do it. The instructions were actually written by handy folks that had done the work and posted their methods....worked like a charm. And I'm NOT that handy!

          1. re: Monch

            That doesn't sound too hard... I will take a peek in the oven first, see what the condition of the ignitor looks like, how many screws etc.
            Thanks for the tip!

          2. re: iluvcookies

            Many pilot lights have a safety feature that shuts off the gas supply if the pilot blows out in the case of a gas pilot light or if the electronic ignitor doesn't light the gas. It works by a bimetallic element being heated by the flame.

            1. re: iluvcookies

              If the electronic ignitor is weak or defective it will not allow the gas valve to open...thus no gas smell...

              1. re: iluvcookies

                Your symptoms sound exactly like ours, also a GE pilotless gas range, a month ago--burners yes, oven no, no gas.

                DH replaced ignitor, less than $100 IIRC, and we lived happily ever after.

                That is, till the clothes dryer croaked a couple of weeks ago (replacement from Craigslist, cheaper than repair)

              2. re: lazycook

                That is so true about pilot-light models being more reliable. However, those of us who live where it gets hot in the summer also enjoy not having that pilot in the kitchen on those long August days.

                My mother-in-law's wonderful old Chambers range is great -- but man, it's amazing how much hotter it makes her small kitchen in the summer. You wouldn't think it'd have that big an effect, but it does.

                One house we lived in when I was a kid had a stand-alone Chambers oven with an exposed stainless plate on top. It was at about adult eye-level -- and one of the cats camped out on top of it all winter long. I can't believe my mom could put up with that, but I'm not sure it's possible to win an argument such as that with a cat!

                1. re: dmd_kc

                  The interior of the oven gets to be around a hundred degrees with the oven door shut, due to the pilot light, and by propping the door open a bit I can lower the temp to around 80 or 90 which is just perfect for sprouting pepper and tomato seeds. But once they start sprouting I move the seedling under my fluorescent light fixture until it gets warm enough to move them outside.

            2. RE: replies above on reliability of older appliances. Yes, they are often more reliable than the new ones, because they were built very heavy and with big margins of design error because designers of that day really didn't have the tools available today.

              But they also have a serious downside. Those gas pilot lights, for example, over time use as much gas as the oven itself. It's like a dripping faucet--it may be slow, but it just keeps on going. The gas that it burns is also burning a hole in your pocket, not to mention the environmental effects of producing and wastefully burning all that gas. With old refrigerators, the amount of electricity they use is often staggering. They are generally inefficient in the extreme, but you won't know it unless you put a meter just on the frig to see what is going on. Any frig more than 10 years old is suspect, and in the worst cases replacing it can save enough electricity in a few years to pay for the new unit. For the same reason, when you get a new one it really isn't a good idea to put that old frig out in the garage and keep it going.

              Yes, they don't build them the way they used to, and that, believe it or not, is a good thing.

              3 Replies
              1. re: johnb

                Definitely. I still chuckle at staying at a B&B in Savannah over 10 years ago. They were so proud of the Aga stove they'd put in when remodeling the old, historic house. It sat there, hot and ready to use 24/7. In Savannah. Georgia. Where it gets 95+ for a big chunk of the summer. Talk about paying for that status symbol.

                1. re: ted

                  I've always been curious about these Aga stoves that run forever. How well insulated are they and how much heat do they lose? It seems to me they surely must put a lot of heat into the room, and waste a lot of energy. Not only the energy burned by the stove is the 20 hours per day it isn't really used, but imagine the a/c bills in that B&B!

                  It reminds me of the distant relatives I heard about once who loved to sleep under an electric blanket, including in the summer with the a/c going. So they just turned both up to the max and left them to duke it out. How about those electric bllls........

                2. re: johnb

                  My father has in his kitchen a gas stove at least 50 years old but probably not more than 60 (based on its lines) that came with the house when my parents bought it 40 years ago. He and my stepmother like it and it serves their needs; they keep the oven pilot lit as a practical matter, but turned off the burner pilot decades ago because it is so wasteful (of fuel and therefore of their money). My mother, on the other hand, just replaced a 20-year-old KitchenAid gas cooktop that got 3x/day use, and told me she was told by the dealer the expected lifespan was around 10 years. It was not nonfunctional, though the ignitors were beyond repair and one burner was shot, but she's very happy with the decision as the current version of the model constitutes a major upgrade.

                3. I know this sounds obvious but I was in IT support for a while and sometimes the obvious is true...

                  Has the gas valve been turned off?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: Paulustrious

                    Hi Paulustrious,
                    No, gas is on and the stovetop burners are working fine. That was the 1st thing I checked (actually DH checked)
                    We decided to call for service and I'm waiting for them now. If there is anything else wrong with the range our landlord will graciously replace it with a new GE model.

                      1. re: Paulustrious

                        It was the ignitor. $160 for parts and repair, working good as new now. In fact I am enjoying a fresh cinnamon bun from said oven right now. Mmmm............

                  2. My friend has a gas oven. I don't know alot about it, the stove top works, along with the griddle. The electric ignitor gets hot/glows but doesn't light. I even tried to use a lighter, fairly certain there's no gas down there. Only gas line I saw running to it went up beside the griddle, and had what I think was a bleeder? any pointers? I'll get more info and post some pictures tonight.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: mrcorey

                      It can glow but not get hot enough. You can't 'light' those kind of gas ovens- it is heat that produces a current to allow the gas to flow. Or. it is a bimetal valve that also requires heat- more amps. Replace the ignitor.

                    2. I replaced mine, no problem. Ordered it off the internet, and I am thinking it was well under $100.