The BBQ igniter is a simple tool with many applications. Of course, it is made for the primary purpose of lighting gas grills. Unfortunately, however, BBQ igniters sometimes get a bad reputation for being undependable.
BBQ Igniters: The Little Tools that Accomplish Great Things
It seems like every time you want to light the grill, the igniter fails to work properly. This requires you to go in the house and dig around for a match or lighter to get your grill going. A little known fact is that the igniter is rarely the cause of such undependability. More often, the burners are not properly feeding fuel to the igniter, which makes it difficult to light.
How a BBQ Igniter Works
BBQ igniters use piezo electricity to create a spark that lights the gas in a grill. When we think of electricity, we think of plugging something into a wall, or inserting fresh batteries to power a device.
Piezo electricity is different from what we normally think of as electricity. If you speak Greek, you will recognize the word “piezo” as meaning pressure. Piezo electricity is essentially an electromagnetic charge generated by applying pressure to something. There are certain crystal elements that produce electricity when they are struck with force. In a BBQ igniter, one of these piezo electric crystals is struck, which causes it to emit a spark to light the grill. The spark is small and only lasts for a split second, but it is all that the gas needs to light quickly.
What to Do When Your Grill Won’t Light
If your grill won’t light after you’ve turned on the gas and hit the igniter, there are a few steps to diagnose the problem. Remember to turn off the gas and remove the propane tank completely before attempting any diagnosis or repairs.
1. With the gas turned off and the tank removed, locate the igniter element and watch it as you press the igniter button. If you see a small spark jump across the element, you know your ignition issues are not caused by the igniter. If there is no spark, your easiest option may be to get a replacement igniter. BBQ igniters are available at many online retailers.
2. If you see a spark on the igniter, the problem is likely with the gas burners. With the propane tank still safely disconnected, remove the burners one by one and check for signs of blockage. If there is any blockage in the burners, replace them.