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Ask Dave: Why does RV’s gas range only work intermittently?

Answers to questions about RV Repair and Maintenance from RV expert Dave Solberg, author of the “RV Handbook” and the managing editor of the RV Repair Club. This column appears Monday through Saturday in the RV Travel and RV Daily Tips newsletters. (Sign up for an email reminder for each new issue if you do not already receive one.) Today Dave discusses a gas range which only works intermittently.

Dear Dave,
I have an Advent gas range with oven that won’t light, at least consistently. We just got back from a 10-day camping trip and it failed to respond. Removed the top, cleaned everything, put it back and, yay, all 3 burners and the oven fired right up. It sat overnight and again failed this morning. Could this be a failing kit range regulator?  —Leon

Dear Leon,
Here are the steps I would recommend taking to figure out what is happening with your gas range. When the unit will not light, are you trying to light it with a piezo spark or actual flame? Since you did not mention if there seemed to be a hiss from the burners, I would suggest using a butane fire stick at one of the burners to see if there is any LP coming out. Sounds elementary; however, the spark could be tracing back through a crack in the ceramic insulation and not getting to the burner tube. If there is no LP coming out, check another appliance that runs on LP such as the water heater or furnace to see if they are working. This will tell you if it’s just a stove top/oven problem or an overall LP problem.

If nothing else works on the LP mode, it could be the regulator at the tank or cylinder, or low 12-volt power. Low 12-volt power is a common issue with lead acid batteries as they can get sulfated. Then, even though they seem to have a good charge (12.6 volts), they plummet when a load is applied. It’s just like a hole in a 5-gallon bucket. As long as you have water flowing into the bucket, it stays full. But the minute you shut off the water, it drains fast. Same with sulfated lead acid batteries.

Here’s what to check on your temperamental gas range

The first thing I would do is make sure the unit is plugged in and hook up a 12-volt battery booster to the house batteries. If it lights, then you know the batteries are sulfated and need to be replaced as they will not provide enough power to the module board to open the gas valve. If this does not solve the problem, then we start looking at the regulator.

Turn off all appliances in the rig and see if one stove top burner will light. If it does, turn on the others and something else in the rig such as the furnace, which will draw a larger volume of LP, and see what happens to the flame on the stove top. If it draws down substantially or goes out, then your regulator is getting weak and not providing enough pressure under larger volume demand.

Here is what could be happening

While camping, if you were connected to shoreline power and getting a full 30 amps, everything worked fine and your converter was charging your house batteries with a full 13.6 volt charge until they reached 12.6 volts and then went into a 13.2-volt trickle charge. When you came home and plugged into the garage outlet, it only provides 10-15 amps and is typically “ganged” with other outlets so your charger may not have had enough power to keep the batteries charged. Something else that would create an issue is what other appliances you had running just after you cleaned everything and what was running the next morning when it did not work.

The three variables that can create what we call “gremlins” are house battery condition/charge, voltage to the distribution center/converter and ultimately charging voltage to the batteries, and draw from other appliances at the specific times. Keep in mind the refrigerator does not run all the time so there are intermittent periods that it will run and draw LP and 12-volt power.  Same with the water heater and furnace. That’s why it’s important to isolate everything and boost the house batteries to chase that gremlin.

Read more from Dave here

Dave Solberg worked at Winnebago for 15 years developing the dealer training program, as marketing manager, and conducting shows. As the owner of Passport Media Creations, Dave has developed several RV dealer training programs, the RV Safety Training program for the Recreation Vehicle Safety and Education Foundation, and the accredited RV Driving Safety program being conducted at rallies and shows around the country. Dave is a leading expert in the RV industry and author of the “RV Handbook” as well as the Managing Editor of the RV Repair Club.

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rvgrandma
19 days ago

My igniter wires broke long ago. I prefer using a lighter anyway. My oven is another story. Because I don’t leave the pilot light on it can be stubborn to light. Once I do I let it burn for 5 minutes before turning the temp up. I guess dirt, dust (plenty of that) and crud will build up on the pilot light.

Irv
20 days ago

Another source of one burner failing to light from the ignitor is the cheap wires used to connect the ignitor on the front panel to each burner. On mine, one of the wires rubbed against metal while driving and shorted out.

I bought heat shrink electrical tubing and put it over the wires to all 4 burners. Buy a large enough size that the connectors at both ends can slide inside. It doesn’t need to fit tightly and I didn’t use a heat gun to shrink it.

For example:
2 Pcs 1/2 inch Heat Shrink Tubing, 3:1 Adhesive-Lined Heat Wire Shrinkable Tube by MILAPEAK (4 Feet, Black & Red)
https://smile.amazon.com/dp/B07QKX9XRJ/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_DX6QP0Q4HW08QV5180TS

Thomas D
20 days ago

Altitude? Didn’t say if flame is weak or non existent. I’d start by just listening. Do you hear gas? Most, including home appliances can be lite with a match rather than worrying about an igniter. Regulators go bad. Id start there. So many variables it’s hard to get a proper answer without seeing the problem and having proper test tools.
Are you handy. Can you loosen the flare nut where the stove connects? Can you do it safely ? Gas can be smelled and heard. Hissing, assume regulator good. BUT is pressure right?. Sometimes it’s just better to hire that work done. Propane is dangerous. Makes things go BOOM!

TIM MCRAE
20 days ago

All good advice if the stove uses 12 volt.

My 5 trailers and MH’s have never needed 12 volts to operate the stove.

I have made my coffee & toast many times after draining my crappy batteries overnight ☹️ but didn’t want to wake the neighbors!

Also been a back up heat source in the same scenario. I do have self contained CO detectors, for this reason! It is usually the coach propane or CO detector that wakes me up when the coach battery fails.

I try not to kill my good batteries this way, but it happens… (Not so much anymore – newer RV’s better battery systems – and discipline). Oh that got off topic, 😲

Bob
20 days ago
Reply to  TIM MCRAE

Agree. The OP has a stove with a manual igniter, not powered. Even the posted picture shows this. All of a sudden house batteries were being blamed, instead of following a propane issue.
Checking the other gas appliances is a good start. It they work, it may be possible that the stove regulator is the culprit.
Plus, while connected to shore power, it makes no difference if the batteries are low, since the converter supplies the 12 volts.

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