In the fourth part of this series on RV inspection and maintenance, we will discuss the RV cooktop and focus on slide-in type cooktops with piezo or electronic ignition. Cooktops are arguably the most reliable of RV propane appliances. These articles provide tips on performing annual inspection and simple maintenance only, which should help mitigate unexpected component failures. It is important to have your RV propane system regularly professionally inspected and serviced.
Like other RV appliances, it is important to keep the cooktop clean. In addition to wiping the cooktop surface, be sure to regularly lift the cover and clean the burner box underneath. Some people like to line the box with aluminum foil. This makes the cooktop easy to keep clean, as you can simply replace the foil. However, if you choose to do this, make sure not to allow the foil to come close to any of the ignitor components. Doing so can cause the ignitor to ground against the foil, resulting in ignition problems.
While the cooktop cover is open with the burner box exposed, check the ignitors for proper operation. If you are having problems with your cooktop burners lighting, there are a few simple checks before taking the RV in for service. There are different configurations of piezo and electronic ignition, but they operate in the same way. The piezo ignitor or ignition module generates a spark that travels along the high voltage wire(s) to either the central piezo cluster or each individual burner. In the case of a central cluster, each burner is fed by a flash tube that channels propane from that burner to the central spark for ignition. If you are having ignition issues, first determine if it is affecting all burners or only specific ones. If it’s affecting all burners, check for the presence of a spark. If there is no spark and you have electronic ignition, check for 12V feeding the ignition module. If you don’t have 12V, you will need to trace the voltage loss. Complete loss of spark (and verified 12V for electronic ignition) often points to a failed piezo ignitor or electronic ignition module. Piezo ignitors are not expensive, although electronic control modules can be a little pricey.
If the failure is limited to one or two burners, inspect the flash tubes, which are generally secured with spring clips. These often come loose due to vibration, resulting in dislodging of the tubes. Ensure the high-voltage wires are fully connected at both ends and intact without damage. Next, inspect the small burner ports on the side of the burners facing the flash tubes. These ports get clogged with debris, which can also occur on the main burner ports. Burner ports can be carefully cleaned with toothpicks. Be careful not to enlarge or damage the ports.
Finally, inspect the burner flame. It should be a distinct blue with no yellow. If the flame is not correct, or if you notice any other issues with the operation of the cooktop, it is important to have your cooktop serviced by a reputable RV repair center.
About the Author:
Steve Froese, an avid RV owner, traveler, and Coach-Net member since 2013, is the principal of “A Word to the Wise Technical Communications”, a published RV author, certified RV technician, and licensed Professional Engineer. He frequently collaborates with the “RV Doctor”, Gary Bunzer, and has worked with the RVIA/RVDA as a technical and training writer and consultant. Professionally, he works as a quality engineer and musician. Watch for more of Steve’s work in upcoming Coach-Net publications.2
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