When it comes to cooking, many prefer the power of a gas cooktop to provide even heating to many of their favorite dishes. However, one of the most frustrating problems that a gas cooktop can manifest is a flame that is uneven or very weak. Even when on the highest setting, that flame doesn’t get any stronger than it would on the lowest setting.
Most commonly, a weak flame in your gas cooktop is not truly an indicator that you need an actual repair. So before you start busting out your toolbox to disassemble your stove, you may want to try investigating the actual burners on your stove first.
Misaligned Burner Cap
Each burner on your gas cooktop comes with a burner head that is connected to your stove and contains the components to make the flame as well as a burner cap that is seated on top of it. While you may think the cap is solely there to protect the burner head, but it actually serves a vital purpose of spreading the gas so it will come out the holes in the burner head and ignite rather than just dissipate upwards and likely not ignite quickly.
It is important to remember that while you can seat your burner cap just about any way you want as it fits in many positions, it must be positioned correctly. You will want to look at the underside of your burner cap, you will find either several prongs or several indentations, depending on your make and model of the stove. They should line up with either the prongs or indentations found on the burner head underneath it. These were added specifically to your gas cooktop so your burner cap will be placed in the proper position.
If the burner cap is not in the right position, it can manifest a low flame as not enough gas is able to escape due to blockage. You may also find that one side of the flame is higher than the other if the cap is uneven. In many cases, when the cap is not in the right position, the burner will also have trouble lighting and may take quite a long time to do so.
Dirty Burner Head
One of the most common causes for weak or uneven flames on your gas cooktop is because the burner head has grown dirty. It is something that can easily happen over time. The burner head is surrounded by small slots that allow the gas to be let out and ignited to produce flames. However, these slots are prone to being blocked by grease and other food particles. These things can even be pushed inside the slots by sponges when you are cleaning your cooktop. While you may think the flames will just burn them away eventually, typically the blockages just become more difficult to remove.
When multiple holes on the burner head become blocked or even partially blocked, your gas cooktop will become slower to light and you will likely get weaker flames. The more slots that are clogged up, the worse this problem will become.
To clean the burner slots, you should use something solid that is not likely to break off inside the slot, such as scrubbing it with a toothbrush or using a small piece of sturdy wire. However, if this does not clean the slots completely, you will want to disconnect the burner head and soak it in a solution of warm soapy water to loosen the grease and food particles.
Before removing your burner head, you will want to shut off the gas to your stove and disconnect it from its electrical source for safety. To remove the burner head for cleaning, you simply need to unscrew the mounting screws and remove it. In some models, you will also need to remove the igniter electrode that is built into the burner head. In this case, you simply need to unplug the electrode from the stove assembly below and gently pull it out of the burner head. This will need to be put back in after the burner head is cleaned and dried completely.
If none of the above solves or even seems responsible for your issues, then there may indeed be a need for a part replacement in your future. For example, if your stove has a very weak, but still very even flame, then it is the control valve that is to blame.
The control valve in your gas cooktop is responsible for controlling the gas pressure. This is what allows you to control the strength of the flame throughout the various settings on your stove. If you find the flame is flickering on your stove or you cannot change the strength of the flames on your stove, the control valve may be faulty and will need to be replaced.
Before beginning this replacement, make sure to shut the electricity and the gas off to your stove for your safety. The gas control valve is located behind the burner knobs, so reaching it will vary depending on if you use a range or a built-in cooktop. You will first need to remove the main cover of the stove which will require you to pull off all the control knobs and remove all the burner heads. For built-in stoves, you will have access to the control valves. However, for those using a range, you will need to remove the manifold cover that covers the knobs. You can do so by opening your oven door and removing the screws on the upper edge.
Once the control valves are in reach, you will want to remove the spark switch on the burner whose valve you are replacing. You can then use a wrench to disconnect the gas tube from the valve. Finally, you will need to remove the screws on the mounting clamp so you can remove the old valve. Make sure that the gasket is intact on your new control valve and that is secured to its spot in a snug fashion. As this repair involves parts that are crucial for ferrying gas to your burners, it is strongly recommended you consider having a professional make the repair.