close-up of hand turning on burner on gas stovetop

After 30 years of being an appliance technician, I have found three quick and easy home appliance fixes that anyone can do in under five minutes. They require very few tools and will save you hundreds of dollars and extend the life of your appliances.

1. Gas Stove Burner That Clicks but Won’t Light

On a gas stove, it’s very common to have front burners that don’t light even though you can see and hear the igniter spark. What’s happening is there’s not enough gas getting to the spark to cause ignition. This is caused by a small blockage where the gas is released. Food that spills over into the burner while cooking can create this blockage, preventing gas from reaching the igniter.

The good news is you can fix it in less than one minute and all you need is a paperclip.

Paper clip

Step One

Straighten out the paperclip by bending it with your fingers. Yes, you can bend steel with your bare hands.

Step Two

Remove the large burner grate and then lift off the round metal burner cap.

Step Three

Look down into the middle of the burner for a small round or hexagon-shaped brass-colored part. You may need a good flashlight to see it. On many models, it’s about 1 inch down from the top of the burner right in the middle. On some, it can be as much as 2 inches down.

Metal gas stove burner cap

Brass piece under burner cap

Use your straightened paperclip to get into the very small hole in the middle of the brass-colored part. Push in the paperclip and twist it around like a drill. Six revolutions should be sufficient to break up the obstruction so the gas can now flow.

Step Four

Put the burner cap and grate back on.

Now the fun part: Turn on the burner and you’ll have instant ignition and a stronger flame. Consider doing this on all your burners to make your stove work like new again.

2. Dishwasher Won’t Start or Doesn’t Drain

This is a very common and frustrating problem with dishwashers. Dishwashers have to be able to easily drain to work. If they can’t get rid of the water from the last cycle, they won’t be able to start a new cycle.

Symptoms of a dishwasher that can’t drain are:

  • Dishes come out spotty or with bits of food still on them.
  • The dishwasher won’t start a new cycle.
  • Water is visible above the filter after the cycle is finished.

The most likely point that’s clogged in the drain system is the air gap, which mixes air with the outgoing wastewater from the dishwasher so the water can flow more easily. You can locate the air gap on top of the sink near the kitchen faucet, it’s a silver, cylindrical thing about 3 inches tall.

This DIY fix will get your dishwasher running again in under five minutes.

Step One

Pull straight up on the silver metal covering of the air gap.

Remove metal covering on air gap

Step Two

Unscrew the plastic cap — or on some models, gently pry up the cap using a small flathead screwdriver. On either side of the cap, you’ll see plastic tabs that need to be pushed in to release the cap.

Remove plastic cap on air gap

Step Three

Look inside the smaller diameter tube in the middle of the larger opening for stuck food particles. If you can see the clog just pinch it between your fingers and pull it out. If you don’t see anything at the top of that small tube, then, using a straightened out wire clothes hanger, push it down into the tube several times. Try to get the wire hanger to go down 8 inches or more.

Remove clog in air gap

Step Four

With the cap off, set your machine to drain by pressing cancel. (For some models, you hold the start button for three seconds to cancel the cycle and activate the drain motor.) Make sure to close the dishwasher door to start the drain cycle.

You should hear the motor kick in and you should see a column of water shoot out of the air gap at least 3 inches high. At this point, open the dishwasher door to stop the drain. Then close the door one more time for five seconds to make the water shoot out of the air gap again to clear the clog.

Now you can put the cap back on the air gap as well as its silver cover. Have the hole on the silver cover point toward the sink to allow a backed-up air gap to drain into the sink.

During the drain test, if you only see a dribble of water come out of the small tube, or if your drain tube goes directly to your garbage disposal, then you’ll need to take an extra step. Remove the drain hose from the underside of the air gap or remove it from the garbage disposal. Then put the hose in a bucket and start the draining process again as you shake the hose. This should dislodge the clog and get it draining again.

If you’ve ever wondered, “Should I rinse the food off my dishes before I load the dishes?” … here’s my expert answer to this very common question: Yes, definitely yes.

3. Oven Door Won’t Stay Closed

This repair borders on appliance magic and many of my YouTube viewers who try this fix can’t believe how easy it was to do. You’ll need two dishtowels and you can complete this fix in under two minutes.

The symptoms of an oven door that doesn’t close enough are:

  • The oven light flickers or stays on all the time.
  • The oven won’t start.
  • If it does start, heat can be felt escaping from the top of the oven.

Here’s the fix:

Step One

Fold the two small dishtowels in half and then fold them once more.

Step Two

Place the two folded dish towels flat against the inside of the door in the lower right- and left-hand corners right where the hinges are.

Folded dishtowels in left side of oven door

Now for the magic.

Step Three

Close the oven door and push in at the top three times.

Progressively push the door further each time. You’ll meet some resistance but with a little more effort you can get the door to fully close by the third push.

pushing oven door closed on dishtowels

Now open the door, remove the dish towels, and prepare to be impressed with your fix. Your oven door will now fully close. If you want it to close even further, repeat the above process after folding the dishtowels once more to make them a little thicker.

I hope you have enjoyed these three quick and easy fixes. Thank you for fixing your appliance and helping to keep more appliances out of our landfills. Should you have any questions, please contact me at: scottthefixitguy@yahoo.com. We have hundreds of more quick and easy DIY appliance fixes here on our YouTube channel: Green Appliance Repair Videos. You’ll also find the above fixes explained in video form.

Want more appliance fixes from the Fix-It Guy? Check out 3 Tips to Double the Life of Your Front-Load Washer.

By Scott Flint

Scott Flint, known on YouTube as Scott the Fix-It Guy, is a licensed California appliance tech who believes we can save the Earth one appliance at a time. He has 30 years of experience repairing home appliances and has taught self-defense and biology for decades. Please consider donating to support his ongoing project to create video guides that help people do their own appliance repairs.