I’ve always loved Coleman dual fuel stoves because they’re reliable, work in cold conditions and they let me whip up meals fairly quickly. They also run on a lot of different fuels making them super versatile.
If your Coleman stove isn’t lighting, the cause usually isn’t serious and there’s a checklist of things to check before fixing the issues.
Your Coleman dual fuel stove won’t light likely because you’ve run out of fuel or the fuel has gone bad. It could also be due to a clogged or faulty part or because the generator hasn’t heated up properly.
Other causes include a fuel leak or dirty or faulty stove burners.
Once you’ve pinpointed the problem, you can usually fix it quickly, even if you’re camping. However, if you’re out of luck, you may need a new part.
1. You’ve Run Out of Fuel
I must admit that this has happened to me. After being confused that my stove wasn’t lighting, I realized that my fuel reservoir was empty.
- Isopropyl alcohol
- Denatured alcohol
- Diesel (only use as a last resort because it produces lots of dark smoke and sooty residue)
- Propane (with a white gas to propane conversion)
- Butane (with a white gas to butane conversion)
2. The Fuel Line or Generator Is Clogged or Not Heated Up
Coleman fuel typically burns clean with very little smoke and leaves very few deposits on the stove and in the fuel line or generator. However, if you haven’t cleaned your stove in a while, the generator or fuel line might be clogged and dirty.
Unleaded gas works differently with Coleman dual fuel stoves, leaves more residue and deposits and requires more frequent cleaning. Also, if you’ve been using diesel or kerosene in your stove, you should clean it after every use.
If you notice a lot of sooty residue on your stove, you can follow the steps in this guide on how to clean and service it.
The stove might also not be lighting up because the generator isn’t hot enough to vaporize your fuel. In this case, place a lit barbecue lighter over it for about 10 seconds and then light the stove as normal.
3. The Fuel Has Gone Bad
This may sound like a strange reason your Coleman stove won’t start but expired fuel can prevent combustion from taking place or leave sludge-like deposits in the fuel reservoir or fuel lines.
Coleman fuel or white gas has a shelf life of 5 to 7 years when unopened (but I personally know folks who’ve successfully used decades old unopened white gas) but only 6 months once the container is open.
Unleaded gas only lasts 3 to 6 months and will degrade faster the more it’s exposed to air. Old gasoline will become thick, sticky and ineffective the older it is.
If you haven’t used your stove for many months, there’s a good chance the fuel has expired. In this case, empty out the old fuel and clean out the reservoir with some Carburetor fluid if there are stubborn deposits.
Then, fill the fuel tank with fresh fuel and check if it lights up.
However, sometimes old fuel will still burn. Check out this video below where someone was able to burn fuel white gas that was around 45 years old.
4. The Pump Is Faulty or You Didn’t Pressurize the Fuel Tank
You probably already know that before using your dual fuel stove, you should pump the fuel reservoir a few dozen times to pressurize it.
Your pump is likely faulty if you’re using it but you can feel the fuel tank not pressurizing or you don’t feel any resistance when using the pump.
The good news is that it’s quite easy to install a new pump (and you can buy a replacement part online). However, if only one of the pump’s parts are broken, you can buy them individually instead of getting an entire pump assembly.
Here’s a video by Coleman giving a visual demonstration of how to replace a pump.
As you can see it's not too difficult to do.
5. You Have a Fuel Leak
A fuel leak is another possible reason your Coleman dual fuel stove isn’t igniting. You may have a fuel leak if you notice an unusual gasoline-like smell when using the stove or you notice small pools of fuel near the fuel tank.
Here’s how to fix a potential fuel leak in your stove:
1. Use a wrench to tighten the brass fitting around the fuel hose where it connects to the tank because it may have loosened over time and caused a fuel leak. When Coleman dual fuel stoves have leaks, it’s normally here.
2. If this doesn’t fix the issue, make sure that when you’re using the pump to pressurize the fuel tank you are turning the pump knob counterclockwise beforehand. If you’re doing this, there may be an issue with the non-return valve.
If you notice visible fuel puddles on your stove, it’s best not to use it until you’ve fixed the leak because both white gas and unleaded gasoline is highly flammable and could explode when near an open flame.
Here is a helpful YouTube video showing how to tighten the fuel hose’s brass fitting to prevent a fuel leak:
6. The Burners Are Dirty or Faulty
If only one of your burners is lighting up but the other is working fine, there’s a good chance that you’ll need to repair, replace or clean the faulty one.
I recommend starting by giving the burners a good clean to remove old grease and carbon deposits. If the burner is still not working, use a star screwdriver to remove the burner top and lift off the splash guard.
Then, take the burner assembly apart and clean the parts. Coleman stove burners are pretty durable and problems with them are normally due to carbon deposits, which are usually difficult to detect unless you take them apart.
Give all the parts a good clean with warm soapy water or white vinegar and water then reassemble then. The burner should now work fine and should no longer impede the flow of fuel.