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Keep Your Automatic Ignitor Igniting!

Article and graphic courtesy in part to Appliance Factory Parts

Diagram of a gas grill ignitorHow does the automatic ignitor in my gas grill work?

The ignitor is a unique piece of technology.  The core of the ignitor is a piezoelectric crystal.  The piezoelectric crystal generates an electrical charge on its surface when it is subjected to pressure.  The more abrupt the pressure, the greater the power generated.  So turning the knob (or pressing the button) on the ignitor control snaps a tiny spring-loaded pin against the crystal.  The ignitor then sends this high voltage electrical charge along the wire to the ignitor electrode, located inside the collector box.

The collector box has two functions. 

First, it provides a surface for the electricity produced by the ignitor crystal to arc.  Second, it acts as a open container that "collects" gas to provide a good medium for combustion.  When you push the ignitor button, electricity sent to the electrode jumps from the electrode to the top of the collector box, producing a spark which ignites the gas in the box and also in the burner.

If your grill has an ignitor that no longer works...

Now that you understand how the ignitor works, troubleshooting is much easier!  Here are some tips to determine whether you need to replace the ignitor:

  • Check the connections at the push button itself, and at the spark collector box. These connections can become corroded (Fig. 1)
  • Now check the insulator in the collector box for cracks. Cracks collect moisture and reduce the spark, in which case will require replacement.
  • Sand electrode tip inside the collector box.
  • Clean electrode with alcohol.
  • Lightly sand the inner roof of the collector box.

Time to replace the ignitor?

If you've tried all the steps above and the ignitor still does not produce a spark, then it's time to replace it.  Appliance Factory Parts can help you get the right replacement part for your grill!

Locate the collector box inside your grill      Good ignitor spack vs. bad ignitor spark

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About the author: Appliance Factory Parts is a one-stop shop for your grill needs.  They have parts for 12,000 BBQ models and 40,000 BBQ parts, including gas grill burners, grids, and grates

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