Grill Repair: Learn Barbeque Grill Ignition Service

Gas grill parts installed by technician.

Glow Plug Electrode. Glow plug electrodes glow like a light bulb when activated.  These powerful igniters can light gas in any conditions but can be easily damaged.
Glow Plug Electrode. Glow plug electrodes glow like a light bulb when activated. These powerful igniters can light gas in any conditions but can be easily damaged. | Source

My Gas BBQ Grill Will Not Light.

A few times a week I get the request for service from a customer explaining their BBQ grill will not ignite. Although many times the culprit is a safety feature in the LP tank that prohibits gas flow when checked, when this is not the case there are a few very simple places find normal wear and tear. If we use the barbeque because we love to grill – and we do, right? – it is necessary to discover how a barbeque grill ignition works, how to diagnose problems and replace parts.

Gas grill ignition parts are not complicated items when compared to the engine in a car. The ignition in a car is a very complex piece of mechanics needing precision timing, specific carburetion and complex firing. A gas grill combines many items in to one item. The module in a barbeque sends a charge to an electrode that grounds and causes a spark. If gas is flowing when the spark occurs, your barbeque ignites.

Gas BBQ Grill Ignition Module.

Older-style barbeque grill igniter piezo.  Every click of the red button creates one spark at the electrode to light the gas grill.
Older-style barbeque grill igniter piezo. Every click of the red button creates one spark at the electrode to light the gas grill.
Battery operated module gives continuous sparking to multiple elctrodes to light several burners on a barbecue grill.
Battery operated module gives continuous sparking to multiple elctrodes to light several burners on a barbecue grill.
Rotary ignition module can spark at up t three electrodes with one turn of the ignition control knob.
Rotary ignition module can spark at up t three electrodes with one turn of the ignition control knob.
Battery operated module with attached ground, electrode and collector box will function with any gas bbq grill.
Battery operated module with attached ground, electrode and collector box will function with any gas bbq grill.

Gas grill parts module, spark generator.

The modules in BBQ grills have some slight variations as technology has developed over time but essentially they are all the same.  Although some modules have a separate button to switch the charge on/off most buttons are connected to the module.  Most modules also have the power included also although recently some barbeque grill manufacturers have been building power transformers that use an electrical outlet.  Most modules hold a battery.  The role of the module grill parts in your BBQ is to convert the electricity from a battery to a charge that can be sent to the electrode.

Modules from many years ago were manual, called piezo from the plunger mechanism.  Essentially a single push button would cause a charge when depressed.  Upgrading the piezo module, many gas grills started using rotary modules.  The mechanics is the same but rather than push the button one time for one spark a rotary will spark several times as the knob is turned.  In the past decade grills have been using with electronic ignitors.  While a few gas grill companies have created transformers to run off electricity most gas grill modules use batteries.  Of course more recently grills use nine-volt igniters because they last longer and arc stronger.  As unbelievable as it may be the most frequent reason a gas grill does not ignite is the battery needs to be changed.  I have had ma y clients call for service with grills we delivered up to two years earlier with dead batteries.  The module is hidden so well in the gas grill control panel and the igniter worked for so long they didn’t believe it could have a battery

Gas grill electrode igniter.

Collector box protects the spark and collects gas. Electrode sparks against stainless box to ignite gas barbecue grill burner.
Collector box protects the spark and collects gas. Electrode sparks against stainless box to ignite gas barbecue grill burner.
Collector boxes and electrode will mount on or near the gas grill burner.
Collector boxes and electrode will mount on or near the gas grill burner.
Collector box, electrode and pipe burner in a Weber gas barbeque grill.
Collector box, electrode and pipe burner in a Weber gas barbeque grill.
Collector box and gas grill spark electrode.
Collector box and gas grill spark electrode.

Electrde grill parts for gas barbeque grills.

The electrode barbecue grill part is essentially a spark plug.  It even looks like a spark plug from your car to lawn mower.  An electrode wire connects the module (power converter, distributor, switch and battery) to the electrode mounted in the control panel of the gas grill.  Electrodes are mounted above, beside or very near the gas grill burner.  Often the electrode is housed inside a collector box.  The collector box is a stainless box that allows gas from the burner to get trapped.  When the module sends a charge, the electrode grounds the charge and generates a spark.  The gas in the collection box ignites and the gas coming from the burner ignites across the grill.

When an igniter will not light the gas barbeque grill and the battery is fresh and the gas is flowing well from the tank, the common problem is the collector box.  The collector box not only allows the gas to gather near the arc of ignition it also protects the electrode from cooking grease, rain and dirt.  Protecting the electrod from any kind of dirt that would interfere with the arc means the stainless steel collector box gets pretty dirty.  Even those rare customers who actually do clean their barbeque do not notice the discrete little box next to the burner.  When the collector box get so dirty or rusted that there is no longer a clean space to spark against, the electrode no longer ignites the gas grill.  Often the box can be replaced for less than twenty dollars.  This rarely happens because most backyard barbecuing chefs do not know why the grill will not light and they call for on-site service.

Gas grill access for ignition repair parts.

This image shows the control panel pulled off the gas grill.  The module is mounted in the control panel.  Electrode wires, valves and manifold for gas grill is also visible.
This image shows the control panel pulled off the gas grill. The module is mounted in the control panel. Electrode wires, valves and manifold for gas grill is also visible.

Now that you have read the top-secret reasons for ignition failures with your gas barbeque grill you can save the cost of a certified on-site technician and replace the collector box. Usually the collector box is attached to the firewall of the grill with a bendable stainless tab (Weber gas grills, Ducane and others). Others are attached with a single screw or a nut. It is always simple to replace a collector box.

The electrode and module are not so accessible. Some grills (Weber and Ducane, etc) mount the modules under the side shelves but usually the control panel has to be removed for access. This means the knobs have to come off and the module switch. Inside the control panel the module is normally attached with screws or bolts but being inside the control panel keeps the hardware fairly clean so it is not difficult to remove and replace.

Grill parts repair technician.

Now you are capable of fixing the most complained about problem with gas barbeque grills worldwide. Congratulations! Please remember to test for a clean arc without the gas turned on before using the gas grill. Keep a long-handled lighter nearby to light the gas if the igniter fails to light when it has been replaced. Sometimes the connections have to be tightened where the wire connect the electrode to the module or where the electrode mounts to the firebox and grounds out. If the ignition fails, light the grill with the long lighter ensuring a good gas flow – don’t want to be fighting with the igniter if the tank is out of gas. Diagnose the correct problem, barbeque often, eat well and have fun.

Disclaimer.

I should point out that I am not a certified trainer and am not employed by any propane certification company authorized to train you.  I have just been working on gas barbecue grills for several years and sharing my technique.  If you have a problem with your gas grill and are unsure how to fix t or whom to contact, find a licensed gas technician.

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Tell us about your gas bbq grill parts. 2 comments

Jody 4 years ago

I see a spark but the grill won't light. I can light it with a match so I know the gas is flowing. I changed the battery, thinking that would make the spark bigger but it didn't. Any suggestions?


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grillrepair 3 years ago from florida Author

jody--

I apologize I just saw this.

If you have gas and you have a spark the burner will light. There is nothing else. Sometimes the gas is too far from the spark and sometimes the "gap" is too great or slightly too far away. Like a spark plug electrodes must be "gapped" for maximum arc and they can be slightly bent to position the spark to where the gas leaves the burner.

Your problem is one that I find very annoying because everything seems to be working but usually it is only a simple adjustment that is needed.

If the arc seems very weak, check the ground including the screw that attaches the electrode to the grill wall because that i the ground and can make the arc weak if it is filthy.

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