Cooktop Burner Won’t Autolight

Having trouble with a burner that’s very slow to light or not lighting without a match? The gas and air flow/pressure must be properly balanced for everything to work. Pressure too high or low can cause problems. I learned I had to consider:

  • gas flow amount/pressure controlled by the burner head orifice
  • gas flow amount/pressure controlled by simmer orifice
  • air flow amount controlled by the venturi (air shutters)
  • air/gas flow through the flash tubes

flash tube between pilot and burner tube set vertical neck (could be clogged or not placed properly).

If you have the proper tools (wrench, screw driver) and a gas leak detector (your nose isn’t enough) and a little patience, you could adjust the settings, etc. to restore proper function. It’ll require repeated attempts at adjusting (up/down) air and gas flows (one at a time), then turning burner on, turning off, then waiting 3-5 minutes for the air in the tubes to clear.

Seek a professional gas stove technician if you’re not prepared to do this.


The venturis <> air shutters <> butterfly vents <> wings. I’ve probably missed a few more nicknames for these things. While the burner valves allow you to control the gas flow, the venturi panels control the flow of fresh air. On these vintage stoves, since they look like basic butterfly wings, they have acquired other names.

With the exception of rust, they’re fairly indestructible. Extensive rust will cause pitting. I neutralized the rusting by soaking the panels and screws in phosphoric acid. After rinsing and drying, they were sanded with the rubber bonded abrasive wheels. I finished them with a light schmear of brake grease.


When clean, lubed and properly adjusted, it’s especially nice to see the happy blue flames.


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