Your Electric Oven is Busted. Now What?

electric stove repair

Electric ranges typically feature two heating elements — one for baking and one for broiling. Both are controlled with an oven selector switch as well as a temperature control. A thermostat monitors and regulates oven temperatures, opening the circuit to break the flow of heat (electricity) and closing it when the temperature drops by more than 20 degrees. This thermostat is directly behind the oven temperature-setting knob with a thin copper tube that runs to the oven for temperature sensing.

Your oven may not work even though the stovetop burners do. The best way to narrow down the possible causes — and find a solution — is to start with the simplest and most common causes.

Some ovens have a clock, a timer or controls for features such as self-cleaning or an interior light. While older clocks used to be manually controlled, many are now electronic and may replace the conventional thermostat system. Often referred to as electronic range controls or electronic oven controls, these need to be replaced when they fail.

Self-cleaning ovens use a timer to operate the cleaning, during which the oven heats to about 700 degrees. A latch engages during the process, which prevents the door from opening until the cycle is done and the temperatures are at a safe level again.

A convection oven includes a fan to help circulate the heat. Sometimes the fan contains a heating element. Either way, the result is more efficient, even cooking.

Common Electric Oven Issues: Troubleshooting by Symptom

Your oven may not work even though the stovetop burners do. The best way to narrow down the possible causes — and find a solution — is to start with the simplest and most common causes. If, at any time, you grow uncertain or need assistance, contact a service professional for specialized assistance applicable to your particular electric oven.

My Oven Doesn’t Work, but the Stovetop Does:

  • Check the oven control knobs. Some have separate cycle and temperature knobs, others combine all functions on one knob. Either way, are they set properly? Have you recently removed the knob, perhaps to clean the oven? If the knob was pulled off, it may not be aligned properly. Try pulling the knob off again and repositioning it for a quick, easy fix.
  • Does your broiler element work? Since the broil element, at the top of the oven, is separate from the bake element at the bottom of the oven, if one works and the other doesn’t, you know the problem is either in the element or the receptacle block into which it plugs. Whenever a burner, oven or broiler fails to work, most often the fault is in the element, so start by wiggling the element to see if it is simply loose.
  • Pull the element free and inspect it for signs of damage: extremely worn areas, bubbling, cracking, signs of burning or corrosion on the terminals. Remove dirt and corrosion with a stiff-bristled brush or sandpaper. Replace faulty elements; they aren’t very expensive (less than a service call!).
  • Test your oven elements — either the bake or broil element — with a multimeter. Clip the probes to the element terminals and test for continuity. The reading should be between 15 and 30 ohms. Higher readings mean the element is faulty and needs replacement. Alternatively, take the element to a repair service and ask them to test it for you.
  • If neither broil nor bake works and previous steps fail to identify the problem, check your clock settings. On analog clocks, the setting should be manual. Auto is for timed cooking. This fix may not be relevant for everyone. Newer ERC and EOC clocks, as discussed above, typically integrate the clock with the thermostat. When the clock stops working, it affects the oven and requires replacement.
  • Does your range feature built-in fuses? Locate the fuse positions and check if the fuses for the oven are faulty. Replace with 30 amp fuses. Your owner’s manual should explain where they are located and how to access them. Contact a service technician for further information.

My Oven Works, but Doesn't Produce Much Heat:

The problem is likely not the element, but another connected part.

  • First check the oven door. The gasket surrounding the door must seal in the heat to maintain temperature. If you notice rips, tears or missing portions, you've found the problem.
  • Test the thermostat. Place an oven thermometer inside the oven and verify the temperature difference. Often, you can adjust an oven thermostat simply by turning a screw located on the thermostat’s valve stem. On newer digital display oven models, where the thermostat is part of the clock system, you can’t do this. You must replace the sensor instead. Call a service technician for professional assistance.
  • Use a multimeter to test the bake or broil receptacle, similar to testing the burner receptacle. Bad voltage can cause numerous problems. Testing L1 and L2 together should result in 240 volts. From L1 to neutral, and L2 to neutral, should register 120 volts instead.

The Oven Door Won't Open or Close:

It’s possible for bent latches or similar physical damage to cause the door to latch and refuse to open again. There’s no easy fix. The oven must be disassembled to reach the latch and force it open again. Have a service technician perform the work for you.

If your door refuses to close properly, the fix is likely simple. Look at the gasket that surrounds the door and ensure it is clean and in good repair. Gaskets are replaceable. Also check the springs and armature, adjusting as necessary until the door closes properly. Finally, consider replacing the latch, if all else fails.

The Oven Light is on the Blink

Replacing the light bulb is very easy. Use the same size and type each time.

The oven also has an indicator light in the control panel, similar to the burner indicator lights. Access the inside of the panel and replace the light as necessary.

The Convection Feature Doesn't Work:

The convection oven will not work without a fan. After testing the selector switch, take a closer look at the fan. Make sure it isn’t plugged or clogged. Have a service technician test the part, if the solution isn’t obvious.

The Self-Cleaning Feature Doesn't Work:

If the knobs are operating properly, check the oven door latch to ensure it engages completely. To enter the cleaning cycle, the oven must “sense” the latch. If the latch has no electrical current, the oven will not detect it and will fail to clean. Test for continuity on the latch. Consult a repair professional for further information and assistance.

The Electric Range (or the Food Cooked) is Lopsided:

You may not even notice that the range isn’t level until you bake a cake, or a casserole overflows on one side, creating a mess inside your oven. Luckily, this is generally an easy fix.

  • Is the range itself uneven? A simple way to check is to put a level inside the oven on one of the racks. Failing that, use a pan of water and eyeball the level to see if it looks even. Most ranges have leveling legs that may be adjusted to obtain level. Alternatively, use a small item such as a thin strip of wood, positioned under the stove legs.
  • Is the problem confined to the burners? If the element isn’t seated properly, the result will be a slightly lopsided pan. Simply adjust the element to correct.
  • Check the condition of the kitchen floor. If the floor is sagging or uneven, the stove will be as well. Consult a professional carpenter for a permanent solution. In the meantime, adjust the stove to obtain level.