Grilling is an art, and like any art, grill masters must sometimes adapt and overcome challenges to create their masterpieces.
One such challenge would be when your ignition stops working, preventing you from lighting your grill and ultimately threatening to ruin your cookout.
Did you know that you can manually light a gas grill letting you save your barbecue?
Manually lighting a gas grill can seem intimidating but with the correct knowledge and precautions, it’s a simple and safe process.
In this article, we’ll walk you through all of the possible reasons why your gas grill isn’t lighting. Then, we’ll walk you through the step-by-step process of how to manually light a gas grill safely.
We’ll also discuss the necessary safety precautions you need to take when lighting your grill manually. Finally, we’ll provide some tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your grill.
By the end of this guide, you’ll be equipped to make sure you’re never left out in the cold due to a faulty gas grill igniter.
Table of Contents
Click a topic below to be taken directly to that section.
Reasons Why You Have to Light Your Gas Grill Manually
There are several reasons why you might find yourself needing to light your gas grill manually.
While modern gas grills often come equipped with an automatic ignition system for convenience and ease of use, there are instances where manual lighting becomes necessary.
Whether it’s due to a malfunctioning igniter, a faulty or dead battery, or simply the absence of an automatic ignition system in older models, understanding how to manually light your gas grill will save your cookout in a pinch.
Thankfully there are only a few common reasons why you’ll need to manually light your gas grill, and they’re usually easy to fix!
A Faulty Igniter
A faulty igniter is one of the most common reasons why a gas grill may not light automatically.
The role of the igniter, also known as the spark generator, is to create the spark which ignites the gas in your grill. When you push the ignition button, an electrical impulse is transmitted to the igniter, triggering a spark. This spark reacts with the gas, setting it alight and getting your grill going.
However, if the igniter is faulty, it may not be able to generate the necessary spark. This could be due to a variety of reasons including normal wear and tear, exposure to damp conditions, or an accumulation of grease and dirt.
In some cases, the issue might be with the wiring that links the ignition button to the igniter. The damage or disconnection could disrupt the electrical current, stopping it from reaching the igniter.
For information on how to trouble or replace a gas grill igniter, you can check out this guide: How to Replace a Gas Grill Igniter
Faulty or Dead Ignition Battery
The first thing to check is to see if your grill has a battery igniter. A faulty or dead ignition battery can prevent your gas grill from lighting because it prevents it from creating a spark. When you press the ignition button, the battery provides the electrical charge that is sent to the igniter, which then generates the spark needed to ignite the gas.
If the battery is dead or malfunctioning, it cannot generate the necessary charge. Without this charge, no spark can be created. This means that no matter how many times you press the ignition button, your grill isn’t going to light.
Faulty batteries may not provide a consistent charge, leading to intermittent or weak sparks that may not be enough to ignite the gas. Dead batteries, on the other hand, will not provide any charge at all.
In both cases, the result is the same: the grill will not light automatically and the battery needs to be replaced.
Poor connections to the ignition system can also prevent your gas grill from lighting. This is because the ignition process relies on a series of interconnected components all working together to generate the spark that ignites the gas in the grill.
The ignition button sends an electrical signal via wires to the spark generator (or igniter). This igniter then generates a spark, which travels to the gas in the burners to create the flame needed for grilling.
If there’s a loose or corroded connection anywhere in this chain, the electrical signal could be interrupted or weakened. This could prevent the igniter from producing a spark or make the spark too weak to ignite the gas.
As a result, despite having good gas flow and a functioning igniter, the grill may not light if the connections within the ignition system are not secure and in good condition.
Blocked or Dirty Burner Tubes
Blocked or dirty burner tubes can prevent your gas grill from lighting due to the obstruction in the gas flow pathway. Burner tubes are responsible for delivering the gas from the regulator to the burners, where it then mixes with air and ignites to produce a flame.
Over time, grease, food particles, and other debris can accumulate in the burner tubes. If left uncleaned, these materials can solidify or cause rusting, leading to partial or complete blockages in the tubes.
Insects such as spiders may find the tubes an attractive place to nest, which can also cause blockage.
When the burner tubes are blocked or dirty, the gas cannot flow freely. Without the proper gas flow, the igniter may not be able to produce a spark strong enough to ignite the limited amount of gas reaching the burners.
Ignitors May Not Be Included With the Grill
While it’s rare nowadays, a few grills may still be out there without a built-in ignition system and manual lighting is a must.
The more likely reason is when you inherit or purchase a used or older grill and the ignitor system no longer works.
In both cases, the only workaround is to manually light the grill.
What You Need to Manually Light Your Gas Grill
You don’t need much in the way of special materials to manually light your gas grill. Just make sure your grill is located in a well-ventilated area and have the following items:
- Long matches, or
- Long-handled grill lighter
- Fire extinguisher or water source (it never hurts to keep these items on hand when using a grill of any kind.)
As I said, nothing fancy is needed.
How to Manually Light a Gas Grill
Manually lighting a gas grill is a skill that comes in handy, especially if the grill’s automatic igniter fails or if you own an older model without an ignition system.
So if you’re ready to start cooking, use the simple step-by-step instructions I outline below to get your barbecue started.
Liquid Propane Grills
Lighting a Liquid Propane (LP) grill manually is straightforward, but it should always be done with attention to safety.
Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough for lighting a liquid propane gas grill manually:
- Open the Lid: Always keep the lid open during the lighting process to prevent gas from building up inside the grill.
- Make Sure All Burners Are Turned Off: Make sure that all control knobs are in the “off” position.
- Turn On the Gas: Slowly open the valve on the propane tank to allow gas to flow into the grill’s lines.
- Wait for a Few Seconds: Allow a moment for the gas to fill the lines and reach the burners.
- Light a Long Match or Grill Lighter: Using a long match or grill-specific lighter, ignite the flame.
- Turn On the Burner Closest to You: Turn the control knob of the burner closest to you to the “high” setting.
- Light the Burner: Immediately insert the lit match or lighter into the hole at the bottom of the grill (often called the manual lighting hole) that leads to the burner. If your grill does not have a manual lighting hole, put the flame down through the cooking grates close to the burner.
- Check for Ignition: You should hear a whooshing sound as the gas ignites and see the burner’s flames. If it does not light within a few seconds, turn off the gas, wait for a minute or two to allow any accumulated gas to disperse, and repeat the above steps.
- Light Other Burners: If your grill has multiple burners, you can now turn them on using the control knobs. They should ignite from the flame of the already lit burner.
Always refer to your grill’s manual, as different grills might have slightly different procedures for manual lighting.
Natural Gas Grills
Lighting a Natural Gas Grill manually involves a similar process to lighting a Liquid Propane Grill but with a few differences due to the source of the fuel.
Here’s a step-by-step walkthrough for lighting a natural gas grill manually:
- Open the Lid: Keep the lid open during the lighting process to prevent gas from accumulating inside the grill.
- Make Sure All Burners Are Turned Off: Ensure that all control knobs are in the “off” position.
- Turn On the Gas Supply: Locate the gas shutoff valve that supplies the grill, and turn it to the “on” position.
- Wait for a Few Seconds: Give the gas a moment to flow through the lines and reach the burners.
- Light a Long Match or Grill Lighter: Ignite the flame using a long match or a grill-specific lighter.
- Turn On the Burner Closest to You: Turn the control knob of the burner nearest to you to the “high” setting.
- Light the Burner: Insert the lit match or lighter into the manual lighting hole or through the cooking grates, following the specific location recommended in your grill’s manual.
- Check for Ignition: Look for the flames and listen for the sound of ignition. If it doesn’t light within a few seconds, turn off the gas, wait for any accumulated gas to disperse, and repeat the steps above.
- Light Other Burners: If your grill has multiple burners, you can now turn them on using the control knobs. They should ignite from the flame of the first lit burner.
Once again, always consult your grill’s manual, as there may be slight variations depending on the brand and model of your grill.
Here’s another good guide from Weber: Can I Light My Grill Manually?
What to Do if Your Grill Still Doesn’t Light
If you didn’t succeed in lighting the grill manually the first time, turn off the control knobs and gas supply and wait five minutes. Let the gas disperse and then try again.
If your gas grill still won’t light even after trying to light it manually, you should consider the following steps:
- Check the Gas Supply: Make sure that the propane tank is not empty and that the gas line is properly connected and turned on.
- Light Another Burner: Try lighting another burner as the first one may be the problem.
- Inspect the Burner Tubes: Look for any blockages, dirt, or grease that may be preventing the gas from flowing.
- Consult the Manufacturer’s Manual: Follow any specific troubleshooting steps provided by the manufacturer for your particular grill model.
- Contact a Professional: If you’re still unable to light the grill, it may be time to contact a professional technician or the grill’s manufacturer for assistance. There may be underlying issues that require expert attention.
- Consider a Replacement: If the grill is old and repair costs are high, it may be more economical to replace the grill with a new one.
Always prioritize safety, and if you’re unsure, seek professional assistance rather than attempting further repairs on your own.
Safety Tips for Lighting a Gas Grill Manually
Safety should always be on your mind when using and lighting your gas grill.
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind:
- Inspect for Leaks: Before lighting, always check hoses and connections for leaks by applying a soapy water solution and looking for bubbles.
- Open the Lid: Always make sure the grill lid is open before turning on the gas to prevent gas build-up and a possible explosion.
- Keep Flammable Items Away: Clear the grilling area of any flammable materials, including paper towels, dishcloths, or other objects that can catch fire easily.
- Follow Manufacturer Instructions: Always refer to the grill’s manual for specific lighting instructions, as each model might have unique requirements.
- Use Long Lighters or Matches: When lighting manually, use long matches or lighters to keep your hand a safe distance from the burners.
- Position Yourself Correctly: Stand back from the grill when lighting it and make sure that your face and body are not directly over the burners.
- Don’t Delay Lighting: Once the gas is turned on, light the grill quickly. If it doesn’t light, turn off the gas, wait for it to disperse, and then try again.
- Regular Maintenance: Keep your grill clean and well-maintained to minimize risks associated with grease build-up or worn-out components.
- Avoid Loose Clothing: Wear appropriate attire and avoid loose clothing that might catch fire.
- Avoid Using Flammable Liquids: Do not use lighter fluid, gasoline, or other flammable liquids to aid in lighting a gas grill.
- Keep a Fire Extinguisher Nearby: Having a fire extinguisher or water source nearby is a wise precaution in case of a flare-up.
- Children and Pets: Make sure children and pets are kept at a safe distance from the grill.
You’ll greatly minimize the risk of accidents or injuries when lighting your gas grill if you follow these tips.
Manually Lighting a Gas Grill FAQs
If you still have questions, we have answers.
Below you’ll get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions if you ever find yourself having to manually light a gas grill.
If you don’t find what you’re looking for, leave your question in the comments below or send me an email and I will get back to you.
Who knows, I might even add your question to this guide.
For a more in-depth frequently asked question guide, you check out this article: The Ultimate Gas Grill FAQ
How Do You Light a Grill if the Igniter Isn't Working?
If the igniter isn’t working, you can manually light the grill using a long match or grill lighter. Turn on the gas, then immediately and carefully ignite the gas through the designated hole or by reaching the burner directly. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for safe manual lighting.
Can I Light My Gas Grill With a Lighter?
Yes, you can light your gas grill with a lighter, specifically a grill lighter with a long nozzle for safety. Make sure that the gas flow is regulated and follow the manufacturer’s instructions to light the grill. Always take proper safety precautions when manually lighting your gas grill.
Why Won't My Gas Grill Light Even When I Try to Light It Manually?
There could be several reasons why your gas grill won’t light, such as a lack of gas, blockages in the burners, disconnected gas lines, or faulty components. If you suspect any of the issues above, it’s advised to consult the manual or contact a professional if the problem persists.
What Tools Do I Need to Light My Gas Grill Manually?
Typically, you’ll need a long match or a grill lighter to manually ignite the gas grill. I suggest also having your grill’s instruction manual handy for specific guidelines for your particular model. Always keep a fire extinguisher or water source nearby for safety reasons.
What Should I Do if I Smell Gas After Trying to Manually Light the Grill?
If you smell gas after attempting to manually light the grill, turn off the gas supply immediately, move away from the grill, and allow any accumulated gas to disperse. Do not attempt to light it again until you have identified the problem. If the smell persists, contact a professional as it may indicate a gas leak.
Final Thoughts on Our How to Manually Light a Gas Grill Guide
Lighting a gas grill is as simple as it gets when everything is working as it should be. But when problems pop up, it’s best to start by reading your grill’s manual.
If you have to attempt manual ignition, you’re now good to go.
Manually lighting a gas grill doesn’t have to be a scary task if done with caution and keeping safety in mind.
By following the step-by-step instructions outlined above and keeping safety at the forefront, you can make sure to reliably start your grill even if the igniter fails.
Whether using liquid propane or natural gas, you should now have everything you need to focus on what really matters – enjoying a barbecue with your family and friends.
If you’ve had any experiences with manually lighting a gas grill, positive or negative, don’t hesitate to share them in the comments below. Let’s keep the conversation going!
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A backyard warrior, certified carnivore, lover of good whiskey, grill master and I’m Living The Grilling Life!
I have a passion for cooking with live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I’m a real person just like you, who loves outdoor cooking and BBQ. Food, fun, and time spent with family and friends are what it’s all about! It is my mission to take my passion and knowledge for outdoor cooking and all things BBQ and share this expertise in techniques and grilling equipment with you. In other words, Living The Grilling Life!
I have personally tested over 150+ Grills and Smokers and hundreds of grilling thermometers, temperature controllers, grill brushes, grilling tools, fire starters, and other BBQ products.