What to Do if Your Gas Grill Won’t Stay Lit

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Matt Richard

Even the most popular name-brand gas grills like Masterbuilt, Napoleon, or Char-Broil can sometimes inconveniently turn off while you’re trying to cook food.

But if this happens, don’t fret! This guide shows you how to quickly troubleshoot a gas (propane or natural gas) grill that keeps shutting off. I’ll also share tips on preventing it from happening again.

Quick Answer

If your gas grill doesn’t stay lit, ensure the propane tank isn’t empty. Next, ensure the burners, gas line, valve, and regulator are functioning correctly.

Troubleshooting Steps if Your Gas Grill Keeps Shutting Off

Here are the potential causes that the flame on your gas grill may go out and the steps to take to fix the problem.

Check the Propane Tank to See if There’s Enough Gas Remaining

The first step is to check the propane tank to see if you have enough gas remaining. You may have enough to turn the grill on initially but not enough to sustain the flame for long enough to cook.

There are a few ways you can check if your propane tank is full enough. One is to weigh it, either with a scale or just by taking it into your hands.

If you notice that it’s on the lighter side, that’s a telltale sign that your levels of gas are probably lower than you thought they were.

A full propane tank weighs about 37 lbs, and an empty one weighs around 20 lbs. [1]

If you have a gas gauge or level indicator, checking if you have enough gas is even easier because you just have to read the output on the measuring tool.

Finally, there’s the warm water technique. [2] Here are the instructions for this test:

  1. Disconnect the propane tank and remove it from the grill
  2. Heat some water and pour it down the side of the tank
  3. The level where your hand feels cold is how much propane is left

If you discover low propane, you’ve found your answer. Simply add a new tank and get back to grilling.

Ensure the Value on the Propane Tank Is Open Fully and Not Stuck

Even if you have enough propane in the tank to fuel your grill, the problem could be that not enough gas is actually flowing to the grill to keep the flame lit.

This commonly occurs if there’s a blockage in the gas flow. If your tank is not completely open, that prevents the gas from moving freely to where it needs to be.

To open the propane tank, ensure that the valve is turned completely counterclockwise. This opens the tank and allows gas to flow to the grill.

It’s common for valves to get stuck if they haven’t been used in a long time, so ensure your valve is actually turned to the end and not just stuck in a middle position.

Inspect the Burners to See if They’re Clean and if Gas Can Flow Through

Burners are the elements on your grill with tiny holes where the gas escapes so the fire and oxygen mix. This piece is what keeps the flame going.

If the holes (or slits) in the burner are blocked, gas can’t pass through, and your grill won’t stay lit.

Burners clogging is actually a very common problem because grilling is an inherently messy business. Bits of food, grease, and other debris often fall through the racks and land on them.

Pro Tip

To check if the burners are blocked, you’ll need to remove some other parts, so I recommend cleaning the burners while examining them to save time.

Here’s how to clean the burners on your grill:

  1. Turn off the grill and allow it to cool down so you don’t burn yourself.
  2. Using oven mitts, remove the grates and set them aside.
  3. Inspect the burners to see if anything is covering the holes. If there are, use a toothpick or other sharp object to clear them out.
  4. Once the holes are clear, clean the burners with soapy water and a sponge. Be sure to scrub both sides.
  5. Rinse the burners with clean water and dry them with a towel.
  6. Replace the grates, and you’re good to go!

Ensure the Regulator Components Aren’t Stuck or Faulty

Most gas grills have a regulator which is in place for your safety. Its job is to prevent too much propane from flowing to the burner, causing a fire or explosion. [3]

However, suppose the regulator is stuck or one of the parts is faulty. In that case, it automatically blocks propane from flowing to your grill.

The problem with a regulator is that it is hard to fix it yourself. If you tried all the other options to get your gas grill to stay on, your regulator might be an issue, so call a professional to confirm.

Examine the Igniter to Ensure It Hasn’t Malfunctioned

The igniter is the part that sets the gas on fire once it reaches the burner. There are two types of igniters commonly found in gas grills: battery and piezoelectric.

Battery igniters are easy enough to fix because you usually just need to replace the battery, but piezoelectric igniters often require professional help.

Problems with the igniter usually arise when the grill doesn’t turn on, not when it turns on but doesn’t stay on. Still, it’s worth checking if the igniter is causing issues.

Remember, the Weather Can Cause Your Grill to Keep Turning Off

The reason why grilling is primarily an activity for sunny spring and summer days is not just because people are too lazy to barbecue in the rain or cold.

Most grills have trouble lighting or staying lit under bad weather conditions.

Cold Temperatures Result in Increased Fuel Consumption and Frozen Parts

For example, cold weather adds more complexity to your cookout as you’ll use more propane than usual. The increased gas use is because the cooking time extends if it’s cold outside.

Also, the regulator that controls the gas flow may not function as well in cold weather because the parts can freeze. [4]

If the regulator isn’t working, too little propane could flow through the system, resulting in a weaker flame.

Wind Directly Hitting Your Grill Can Cause the Flame to Keep Going Out

Additionally, the wind dramatically impacts a gas grill’s performance and can be a prominent reason your grill keeps flaming out. [5]

One easy way to minimize the effect of the wind on your gas grill is to use a windscreen.

A windscreen is simply a piece of material, like aluminum foil or a special grill cover, that you place around the perimeter of your grill.

This apparatus blocks the wind from directly hitting the flame and causing it to extinguish.

Pro Tip

If you don’t have a windscreen, you can create a makeshift one by loosely crumpling up the foil and placing it around the edge of the grill. Just remember to leave enough space between the foil and the grill.

You may think of moving your barbecue beside a large tree or wood fence to block the wind. However, I’d advise against that, as wind and fire are a potentially dangerous combination.

Wind can cause the fire to carry over from your grill to a nearby structure like a wood fence or tree. If you use an object to block the wind, ensure its metal so it won’t catch fire.

Frequently Asked Questions

If you still have questions about troubleshooting your gas grill, check out the FAQs below for additional insight.

How Do I Reset the Pressure Regulator on My Gas Grill?

To reset the pressure regulator on your gas grill, start by turning off the propane tank and disconnecting the hose. Next, with the lid open, turn the burner valves to high. After 2 minutes, turn off the burner valves, reconnect the gas line and slowly turn on the propane tank.

How Do You Know if You Have a Bad Propane Regulator?

You have a bad propane regulator if you notice the following signs: no propane flow, popping noise when turning off the valve, potent propane smell, soot residue, yellow flames, or the regulator is over 10 years old.

Where Is the Regulator on a Propane Tank?

The gas regulator is attached to the hose, which connects to the propane tank. The regulator controls the amount of propane that flows from the tank into the grill.

Final Thoughts

It’s annoying when your gas grill doesn’t stay lit. However, by following the steps in this guide, you can get it back in working order and be ready to cook up some delicious meals.

Check the propane level, gas lines, and connections, clean the burners, and replace worn-out parts if needed.

Remember, a well-maintained grill can last for years, so take care of it, and you’ll be grilling with ease!

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Hey, I'm Matt Hollingshead, a BBQ enthusiast, beer connoisseur, and the founder of Grill Mentor. When I'm not trying new recipes with my Traeger or sampling a craft beer, I'm publishing articles for this site.

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