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What do you do when you hear the ignitor spark but it does not light your grill?

What could potentially be wrong with your spark?

We are going to describe to you how any Grill spark or ignitor works, weather it is electronic (battery operated or plugin), the push-in button or the onboard the knob turn-and-click-type ignitor (which is most popular),

What happens when you press or click to get a spark is you are generating of high voltage of electricity (10,000 volts per inch or 8-10,000 volts !) running down a wire and going to a typically White-colored glass electrode through a rod in the middle, called the electrode, out the end of the electrode, jumping to the grill burner or to some part of the grill to complete the spark jump, coming in contact with the grill gas.

Typically, you can see the spark jump when you are looking at in subdued light. NOTE:e recommend you do this with your gas turned off and drained so you can look in when lighting so you do not singe the hairs on your face. I mean drained is turn all your valves on and use a physical lighter so you know all the gas is out. (don’t laugh, stuff happens).

What happens when it does not spark at the end of that electrode?

The wire that carries the spark could be potentially exposed to an edge, old and deteriorating, or they are so close to the walls or edges grill, causing it to spark on the chassis or body of the grill,  and NOT actually reaching to the end of the electrode or metal tip.

This spark travels exactly like how lightening travels. Like with Lighting, the spark will seek its closes path to ground or in this case the grills chassis or main metal frame (anything metal attached to the grill).
Lighting, on the other hand finds typically the highest metal or conducting object to the sky (the electrode) like an antenna, metal roof, car antenna, old school, tv antenna, human body, etc., and jump to it. 

What causes your Grill spark NOT to spark or jump to the burner or very end where it should? 

  1. Rodents can chew wires and expose them and sometimes it works and sometimes not. 

  2. Over time, you could have been cooking with the wind blowing into the back of the grill, causing the great heat from the grill to blow towards the front of the grill, melting wires or damaging valves. (this is a common occurrence we see in places like Texas. It requires physical inspection of all the wires and valves. Wind deflectors will help, but in high winds, may not help. :)

  3. Anther scenario is when the white Electrode or tip and white-end glass or bakelite (old term) part has grilling build-up of grease and debris, which can cause it to pre-maturely spark to conduct and short to the base or mount are of the electrode where is attached to the grill, causing it not to spark on the tip where you want it.  Make sure you clean the white part of the electrode clean as even the slightest grease can cause it to short out. 

    If you hear it sparking, then probably the issue is one of these two scenarios. Use our grill maintenance kit and a tooth brush or mini wire brush which now comes with our upgraded kits,  and spray the electrode and remove the buildup before you go taking the grill apart.  If these suggestions do not solve your issue, then you should to open the grill up or get a flashlight and look under and around for gaps that will allow you to see the valve areas.

    Give your grill a good visual inspection from under the drip tray and on top with the grates and flame tamers exposed. Sometimes, just adjusting the burner and the electrodes physical position closer to each other makes the spark work. You want about 3/4”-1” spark gap and see if you can get it to spark as close to a burner hole as you can. Be very careful when bending or moving the electrode as you can break the electrode glass base of you apply too much force.  

Link to electrodes


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