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I suspect that my Amana oven may not be working properly, but I don't know for certain. I had food in there for two hours, and the food got warm but not at all hot. I also smelled gas pretty strongly. When I look under the oven (inside the broiler) I see a light, which gets brighter when the oven is on a higher temperature. Should there be any flames there as well?

I turned it on and off a few times, and then to a much higher temperature. It seems to have gotten much hotter, but I still don't see flames. I do see a spot where I would think I would see flames.

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    All gas ovens I've owned had actual fire on the bottom, lots of small flames. I've never owned a new one so I don't know if new technology hides the fire somehow. But two things are certain, one: if it's gas it should burn, so fire must be somewhere, and two: if it smells like gas it's not burning. Maybe you need to press an additional button to ignite most of the fire?
    – user140034
    Aug 13, 2021 at 22:36
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    It's not new and you've never noticed if it has or not fire? :-D - Anyhow, the point still stands, the only way to generate heat from gas is through burnination. Specifics may vary.
    – user140034
    Aug 13, 2021 at 22:42
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    Technically there can be fuel cells that don't have a flame. Not sure if any run on ordinary natural gas. But I am sure that no ordinary ovens use them. Aug 13, 2021 at 23:08
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    If you can smell gas, it means that gas isn't being burnt. Leave it turned on, and when the gas/air mix is right, with a flame produced by the rest of the burning gas, you won't need to worry about anything any more: you'll be the source of an explosion that killed you.
    – Tim
    Aug 16, 2021 at 8:53
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    IF YOU SMELL GAS, SOMETHING IS SERIOUSLY WRONG! TURN THE OVEN OFF AND CALL FOR SERVICE BEFORE USING IT AGAIN!!!!! Aug 16, 2021 at 15:34

6 Answers 6

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Yes, gas ovens light a flame to produce heat. The other answers saying to get this looked at are absolutely correct.

Here's a visual demonstration with my own oven, viewed from the under-oven broiler compartment (though everyone's will be a little different):

Oven before it starts heating (immediately after I set a temperature)

oven without flames The igniter is on but hasn't lit the flame yet

Oven when it's heating (10 seconds or so after I set a temperature)

oven with flames Now we're cooking with gas

According to Wolf Appliances:

Gas oven burners ignite in approximately 30 to 45 seconds [...]

If a gas oven or broil burner is not igniting or if a gas odor is present without ignition, discontinue use until repaired.

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    Warning: Do not touch the pretty lights.
    – Vikki
    Aug 15, 2021 at 1:15
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    I'm glad someone understands what 'enter image description here' means..
    – user113627
    Aug 15, 2021 at 15:46
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    @GWarner: I've never understood those who stand outside the image description without entering. The entrance is so clearly marked!
    – dotancohen
    Aug 16, 2021 at 6:48
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    In my gas oven the broiler flame is clearly visible as in these images but the main oven flame is beneath the oven floor and is not so easy to see, especially if the kitchen lights are on. The igniter is brighter than the flames and you can't make out what's what through the holes in the oven floor. If you turn off all the lights and know what you're looking for, you can tell that the flame is lit.
    – jay613
    Aug 16, 2021 at 21:46
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TL;DR Danger!

It sounds like it is only partially burning. it can be normal to smell gas when the oven starts. Smelling it for more than a minute is an indication of a leak of some sort.

If the smell goes away after the oven has been off then the problem is within the oven - valves or burners. Given that a gas leak can literally destroy a house (and the people in it), I'd call an appliance repairman.

If the smell does not go away after the oven has been off, call your gas utility if they have a service to check for leaks (mine does and I've called them). If not, or if the smell is very strong or you hear hissing:

  • Get everyone out of the house.
    • Don’t use any electronics (light switches etc.) while doing this.
  • Call 911 (US) or your local fire department. Some countries have specific gas emergency numbers (e.g. 0800 111 999 in the U.K.)
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    I think you should remove this part: "Unless you feel comfortable learning via YouTube". This is a job for a qualified professional only.
    – kaya3
    Aug 14, 2021 at 0:06
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    Quite a few videos around showing the unexpected rapid deconstruction of houses by gas boo-boos.
    – crip659
    Aug 14, 2021 at 11:44
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    In many countries it is illegal to mess with gas appliances without a license…
    – Moo
    Aug 14, 2021 at 12:16
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    Regarding gas safety, many countries do not have the same paranoia as the USA about electrical safety, but it is a legal requirement that all gas work is done by registered gas engineers. For example in the UK, installing a new gas oven yourself is plain illegal, and the engineer who installed it would have checked it was working correctly and safety (and would have used the proper measuring equipment, not just "I can't smell a gas leak so it's probably OK").
    – alephzero
    Aug 14, 2021 at 13:54
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    @alephzero I thought the USA was relatively un-paranoid about electrical safety, letting people do their own work. In NZ, to my knowledge, you must have all work on connected wiring done by a licensed electrician! (you can wire up new circuits yourself but then you must get them inspected by an electrician before connecting them to power)
    – user253751
    Aug 15, 2021 at 12:28
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In a properly working gas oven, you will definitely see a pattern of blue flame all along the perimeter of the burner, plus an orange-red glow from the electric igniter. These are very distinct.

If the flame is getting insufficient oxygen, it will burn a smoky yellow.

The igniter is wired in series with the gas valve, so current needs to pass through the igniter in order to open the valve. In the most common failure of the igniter, it burns out like an incandescent light bulb can do; this "opens" the circuit (ie, breaks the current) so the gas valve won't open. A neat fail-safe design.

(And yes, the igniter remains powered and glowing as long as the flame burns; modern gas ovens consume a couple hundred watts of electricity for the igniter, even as the gas burns. It helps heat the oven so it's not wasted. Gas stoves for off-grid use have spark ignition systems that don't need constant power.)

What may be happening to your stove is that the igniter has partially failed so that it is insufficient to ignite the gas but still passing current to open the gas valve. So the igniter may be glowing to some degree, and gas is flowing, but not burning. Very dangerous. Like, quit reading this right now and go turn off the oven.

If your oven is kind-of-warm, it may be owing to some amount of heat coming from the half-working igniter, like there's a 100W bulb keeping thing warm.

Even if I'm off-base about the root cause, if you've got gas flow but no blue flame, you're in danger.

So quit using the oven and get service on it, from a technician certified on this brand, who can do the diagnosis and order the right replacement parts.

If you phone the gas company and report a suspected leak, they are likely to very quickly come and shut off the gas supply at the house...and then tell you to get a gas fitter to fix things and call them back. So you may have no hot water and no heat (perhaps not a problem in August) for days, while this gets resolved. In this case, if there is no suspicion of a leak elsewhere, I think the best advice is to quit using the oven, and get it serviced.

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  • modern gas ovens consume a couple hundred watts of electricity for the igniter, even as the gas burns This could be an important detail to note for troubleshooting. Thank you!
    – dotancohen
    Aug 16, 2021 at 6:49
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Gas ranges usually have 2 sets of burners, A low burner under the oven bottom plate for baking and an upper burner at the top of the oven used for broiling. If your oven is not heating it is time to call in a service person to have your oven serviced. If you are smelling gas when it is turned on,then getting it fixed is an emergency situation and the oven should be turned off and isolated until a service person can fix the problem. The smell of un-burned gas is the first sign of trouble and needs to be corrected ASAP.

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    My oven also would intermittently not light. I thought it was the igniter and cleaned it. That helped with the igniters on the burners on top because they were caked with stuff. In the oven that did not help. I replaced the igniter. That did not help. That is the extent of what I was willing to do with an indoor gas appliance. It turned out to be an electrical issue and required a pro to fix.
    – Willk
    Aug 14, 2021 at 21:58
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Yes, gas ovens use actual fire to produce heat. The heating flame is typically lit by an electric igniter or a gas pilot light (small, constantly burning flame).

You might need a new igniter.

This happened to my oven recently. There is a panel at the bottom that I can remove to see where the flame burns, and also there is a metal igniter that glows yellow hot to ignite the flame when the oven is starting.

My oven would sometimes release some gas but not light reliably. I discovered that the igniter was old and failing, causing the safety valve to shut the gas off before it lit. It was easy to change and works great now.

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  • Some modern gas ranges will throw some sort of indication when the igniter fails to light, and will shut off the gas. Similar to gas furnaces, they have a thermocouple that will notice if it doesn't detect flame within several minutes of turning on. That said, the lower burner on many ovens is under a plate and not directly visible.
    – DaveM
    Aug 16, 2021 at 3:21
  • @DaveM -- the normal sensing system on a gas combustion controller isn't a thermocouple, but a flame rectifier sensor. You have the right general gist though Aug 17, 2021 at 1:12
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I only know the type of oven with a hot surface igniter. Basically, the igniter serves two purposes: get hot enough to ignite the gas while dropping the voltage as the resistance increases as it gets hot.

If the igniter is unable to get hot enough, it won't drop enough voltage to fully open the gas valve. You might end up in a situation where it oscillates between sometimes on, or where it is on a threshold of opening the gas valve a little and then eventually getting hot enough to ignite it, but when the oven switches off (it's a bang-bang system) the cycle starts over -- so large swings of temperature as it takes forever to turn on.

The hot surface igniter is cheap enough to replace yourself. You can also check the cold resistance of it with an ohm meter.

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