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any ideas why my gas oven starts, with all the "holes" filled with gas and fire, yet after 2-3 seconds it shuts down (looks like no more gas comes through to keep it burning).

Also, it makes some odd cracking sounds right after it shuts down (like some relay clicking very loudly)

Note: the gas-fired cooktop works perfectly fine.

Any thoughts? Thanks a lot

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It might be the thermocouple connected to the gas valve. This is a safety feature that is used to shut off the gas if the flame blows out. Thermocouple failure is a common occurrence with gas hot water heaters, furnaces and boilers that turn on/off more than stoves/ovens.

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