It’s normal to smell an odor for a few seconds before seeing the flame on the range.
A gas leak smells different, like rotten eggs.
A hissing sound can indicate a puncture in the gas tank and some leakage.
Go outside and call 911 or the gas company’s emergency line if you suspect a leak.
The smell of natural gas is never a good thing, so it's understandable that this may have you worried. If the odor is coming from the gas range in your kitchen, there are a few steps you can take to safely find a solution. Here's how you can understand, diagnose, and fix this problem.
Note: If you suspect a gas leak, don’t touch anything electrical, get safely outside of your home, and call 911 or your gas company’s emergency line.
5 Reasons Your Oven Smells Like Gas
Here are a few common culprits for an oven that smells like gas.
Failing Gas Igniter
If you notice a gas smell shortly after turning on your oven, it could be caused by a failing gas igniter. If the gas igniter isn’t working properly, that means it’s opening slowly and not releasing enough gas to light the oven flame as quickly as it should. If you suspect your gas igniter is failing, hire a local electrician to test and replace that feature.
Oven Is Dirty
When was the last time you cleaned your oven? If it’s been a long time since you last scrubbed down the inside of your oven, the buildup of debris and food particles could be causing your oven to release a gassy smell. Caked-on debris can burn or block gas flow in your oven, leading to unusual odors and potential issues. To resolve this problem, maintain your oven like a pro to keep it safe and clean.
Odorant is an additive containing chemicals that produce the sulfur-like smell we associate with gas leaks. You may notice this smell is more concentrated when your gas tanks are low, depending on how often your gas company adds odorant to the supply lines. However, this smell should dissipate as soon as the oven is lit. If the smell persists or strengthens, you likely have a gas leak.
Blocked Oven Vents
If something is blocking your oven vents, that could be the cause of the suspicious gas smell. Check inside your oven to ensure there aren’t any objects left inside, like a forgotten pan or oven mat. You should also ensure that there isn’t no food residue or buildup is blocking the oven vents.
If your oven is emitting a strong, consistent smell of rotting eggs, you should assume you have a gas leak and take serious precautions. Another sign of a gas leak is a hissing sound. As mentioned above, if you suspect a gas leak you should immediately evacuate your home and call 911 or your gas company’s emergency line.
The Basic Parts of a Gas Range
Understanding the different parts of your gas range can help you determine what could be causing the smell:
Range/burner: Gas oven ranges and stovetops use a burner to warm the space and an electric fan inside to help distribute heat.
Pilot light: The flame that ignites the gas when you’re cooking is what causes the unpleasant smell.
Pilot gas supply line: This is the connection that supplies gas to the pilot light.
Thermostat: This controls whether the oven bakes or broils at various temperatures. Electric ovens use these, too. Pro tip: Calibrate your oven so it functions properly.
Control panel and valves: The knobs that switch on and off, in conjunction with the pilot light and burner, can be adjusted to control heat temperature. The valve supplies the gas and can turn on or off. If another oven gas valve is necessary, contact your oven manufacturer or technician.
How Does a Gas Range Work?
Gas ovens use pilot ignition to work, which relies on a pilot light or gas flame. When the thermostat is on, the vent gets bigger as it opens and heats up. The safety vents open and allow for increased burning of the gas to heat up and ignite the activity in the burner.
Most often, you'll smell an odor for a few seconds before you see a flame on your range. When a gas leak is present, though, it smells different—, like rotten eggs. This particular smell isn’t normal.
Should My Oven Smell Like Gas When It’s Turned On or Preheating?
If you just turned your gas range’s stove or oven on, it's not unusual to smell a brief, faint smell of gas, as the burner lights with a small flame at first. You could also have built-up soot, making the gas smell in your oven smell stronger. It doesn’t hurt to check and see if you should give it a cleaning.
If you notice an unpleasant odor (that rotten egg smell) from your oven for more than a few seconds after turning it on, there could be a gas leak. Your home will need immediate attention.
What Do I Do If I Suspect a Gas Leak?
Regardless of how old it is, ovens should never emit the smell of gas while you’re using them. If you hear a hissing sound when your gas valve is on, that's an indication that there may have been a puncture in the gas tank and some leakage. Even if you don’t hear anything, if you smell gas when your oven is on, that could indicate leakage.
If you suspect a gas leak, do the following:
Turn off the oven as soon as possible.
Open as many windows as possible.
Extinguish any open flames.
Go outside where it’s safe.
Call your gas supplier’s emergency line.
Note: Don’t touch any electrical switches—doing so could lead to an accidental shock and possibly a fire.
And don’t use your stove until you’re sure there’s no trace of any leaks from the connection line between the stem and burner.
Your gas company will almost always come out to detect the smell. Some companies only test outside, but many check on the inside, too. If they notice a problem, they’ll determine the next best course of action. Don’t try to fix this problem yourself.
If left untreated, a gas leak could cause an explosion.
You may also have physical symptoms of gas poisoning, such as dizziness, a headache, or nausea. If you experience any of these symptoms, get out of your property and contact emergency services in your area.
Who Do I Call If I Suspect a Gas Leak?
As previously mentioned, you can call your gas company’s emergency line if you suspect a leak. One other alternative? Call 911. Fire departments will send a firefighter with a combustible gas sniffer to check it out and determine if they can detect any gas when the oven is off.
How Do I Maintain My Gas Range and Prevent Leaks?
Gas range maintenance is an essential factor when it comes to preventing gas emissions. Providers will usually give you at least one year's warranty and an annual inspection service for free. Remember: Leakages should be inspected and repaired by professionals only.
For your part, you can keep your gas range in great condition, such as cleaning your oven properly after use and getting regular maintenance.
What If My Oven Smells Like Gas and Isn’t Heating Up?
If you smell gas while your gas oven isn't heating up, it might be a sign of an oven malfunction. The best course of action would be to contact your gas company, then call the service provider or manufacturer for help with this problem if your oven is broken. You may have to pay for the cost of an oven repair if you don’t have a warranty in use.
How Do I Practice Gas Safety at Home?
There are some basic safety precautions you should take when dealing with natural gas:
Position at least one carbon monoxide detector in your kitchen and on each level of your home.
Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of overexposure to natural gas.
If you hear the hissing sound of gas near a gas line, evacuate your home immediately.
Be aware of the location of your gas line and how to turn off its flow if authorities recommend it.
Never use a gas oven as a substitute heat source.
Don't place aluminum foil or other objects on the bottom of the oven cavity, and don't block the furnace vents that lead into the oven.
Only use gas ovens when there’s someone to attend to them.
Never use a combustible oven cleaner in a gas oven.
Always read the instructions on hazardous items before usage, and never store any chemicals in or near an oven.
Be aware that gas ovens are high-risk appliances and must be installed or repaired by a certified local appliance repair technician.