My new apartment has an older gas stove--I'm guessing its from the 70s? All the markings are gone. Anyway, on the stove top there are two hot spots where the pilot lights are underneath. It's hot to the point where you cant hold your hand there for more than a second or so. The pilot lights are not huge, I'm estimating a half inch tall, but there is zero insulation. There is just a thin metal piece in between the stove top and the pilot. I'm assuming standards were a little more lax 50 or so years ago. It seems like a fire hazard to me. What do you guys think?

  • What I would wonder about is if this old stove has a heat sensor on one or both of the pilot lights that shuts off the gas inside the stove if a pilot light ever goes out. Does this stove have such a protective system? Gas fired water heaters have this, but I am not sure stoves do. It could be that since stoves are operated manually, the assumption is that should one or both pilots go out, the operator would notice. An unlit pilot may have such a low flow rate that gas levels cannot accumulate. We have cooked on an electric range since the mid 1970s; don't remember how gas stoves used to work. Oct 27, 2018 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


This is not an improper fire hazard. In operation the stove top near a burner will get a lot hotter than that.

You are not supposed to lay flammable materials on top of the stove, but I doubt it would start a piece of paper on fire. You could place a 1 inch square of paper towel over the hot spot and see if it would ignite.


AFIK modern gas stoves have electronic spark igniters (they do not have standing pilot lights) so one cannot compare modern stoves to old ones which do have a standing pilot light. I don't think a hot spot over a standing pilot light is an out of specification condition.

  • I think the question is more than just "is this an imminent hazard?" but rather "Is this normal for this type of stove?" Oct 25, 2018 at 16:49
  • That is my understanding about modern gas stoves as well, Jim. It makes sense to me that there should be warm spots above the pilots but hot enough to where you can't touch it seems a bit much. Oct 26, 2018 at 12:33
  • 2
    In the past all gas stove tops had standing pilots. Yes they get hot over the pilot. Is this normal yes. You would create the same amount of heat with a match, thin metal will quickly heat up above the match will it be two hot to hold your hand on yes this was the norm for many decades prior to electronic ignightors.
    – Ed Beal
    Oct 26, 2018 at 14:10

It is not a hazard, the complete top of the range is considered a cooking surface and that would be totally normal if the length of the standing pilot flame is as you posted and the actual cap is intact on the burner assy. UL is who determines what acceptable temp ranges are for products. From what you described, that is the standard for the front and rear burner assy with a standing pilot.

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