Signs & Symptoms of Poor Gas Burner Combustion

Updated February 21, 2017

Combustion requires air, a heat source and ignition. If any one of these components are lacking or incorrectly combined, combustion will fail or falter, resulting in poor performance and a potentially hazardous situation. A deadly build-up of carbon monoxide can occur when a heat source such as gas does not burn fully due to insufficient air flow. Therefore it is vitally important to recognise the signs of poor gas burner combustion, particularly in home heating and cooking appliances.

Flame Color

The flame on your gas stove or hot water heater should be a steady bright blue. Impurities in the gas or dust particles in the air may cause orange flickers in the flame, but a flame that is mostly yellow or orange is an indication of a problem. It might simply mean that there is a dirt or grease build-up or a food obstruction on a stove. If cleaning the appliance does not fix the problem, consult a service technician.

Delayed or Faulty Ignition

A properly working gas apparatus should ignite as soon as the knob or key is turned. If the ignition clicks on a gas stove but the burner does not immediately light and the whooshing sound of gas ignition is absent, this might indicate the presence of an obstruction.


A sooty or yellowed stain on the ceiling of a room with a fireplace or an attached garage is another sign of incomplete combustion. Soot is composed of tiny carbon particles of disparate size that have not burnt. These tiny particles can form as a result of a dirty or obstructed chimney, obstructed air vents or a build-up of dirt or debris in the mechanism of a gas-fuelled appliance.

Operational Issues

Intermittent operational problems with gas appliances may be a result of improper gas combustion. Gas appliances contain mechanical parts that regulate the amount of gas flow. If the mechanism is broken, incorrectly sized or faulty, it can cause either too much or too little gas input. In addition to operational problems, delayed repairs can lead to damaged mechanical components.

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About the Author

Lee Weal began writing and editing online content as a corporate intranet administrator in 2000 and was also the publisher and editor of a monthly employee newsletter. Her articles specialize in children's issues and home improvement.