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Ask Angie: Problem with igniter is most common cause of oven failure

Angieslist.comAugust 24, 2013 

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Angie Hicks

HANDOUT — MCT

Dear Angie: My gas oven won't heat up, but the broiler and burners are working. What could be the problem? — Denise N., Roseville, Calif.

Dear Denise: Your problem is probably with your oven's igniter. This is the most common reason for oven failure, according to highly rated appliance repair specialists on Angie's List.

This problem normally presents itself with the oven igniter making a "clicking" sound as it attempts to light. After it clicks a few times, when you should hear the igniter "catch" and light, it just stops clicking, and you're left with a cold oven.

Wait a few seconds and you'll probably smell the natural gas that emanated from the igniter. It's important to turn the oven off at this point, as this is obviously a potential safety problem; the most serious being the risk of carbon monoxide emission. Most ovens should reach 350 degrees in seven or eight minutes.

Most older ovens use a heat resistance igniter, but many newer systems use a spark igniter. It's important to know which type you have before trying to make the repair. A qualified appliance repair technician can determine which type you need.

Fortunately, replacing the igniter isn't expensive, but it probably will require an experienced technician. First, you're dealing with high voltages, which could pose the risk of electrical shock. Plus, if the igniter is not installed properly, it could create other problems, costing you more in repairs in the long term.

Expect to pay somewhere in the neighborhood of $150 for a new igniter to be professionally installed, although your oven brand and type could increase that cost.

If the problem isn't with your igniter, then it's probably with the main valve. This repair is more expensive to make, but it still would probably cost less than replacing the stove altogether.

I recommend that you find an appliance repair technician who has experience and training to work on your brand of oven. The technician can test to determine exactly what the problem is, so you're not wasting your money on trial-and-error fixes. If the tech knows in advance what brand of oven you have and the potential problem, he or she will probably have the part on their truck and can make the repair the same day, saving you time and money.

Also, many appliance repair companies will waive any service charges for diagnosing the problem if you hire them to make the repair.

Angie Hicks compiles the best advice from the most highly rated service pros on Angieslist.com to answer your questions. Ask Angie your question at askangie@angieslist.com.

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