Common Oven Problems

A man taking out a pan of food from an oven.

Ovens are one of the simplest appliances in the kitchen, but that does not mean they are immune to breaking down. Between sensors failing and heating woes, there are many ways in which an oven can fail. Fortunately, the majority of oven problems can be fixed with a little time and knowledge.

No Heat

If your oven is not heating up at all then there is something wrong with the ignition system or the heating element. For gas ovens, the most likely culprit is a bad igniter, though you also want to make sure nothing is wrong with the gas line.

If the range above the oven is working fine, then you can rule out a faulty gas line and probably just need to replace the igniter. For electric ovens that are not heating, the source of the problem is likely the heating element. If the heating element does not turn red when you set a temperature, then it needs to be replaced.

Uneven Cooking

Croissants baking in an oven.

Uneven cooking is another common oven problem that's usually discovered when baking. The first areas to check are the temperature sensors and heating elements. If these are working fine, then you might be dealing with a rack that is positioned wrong or you might even have faulty cookware. Adjusting the height of the racks when cooking certain foods may fix your problem. It's also a good idea to familiarize yourself with how your oven cooks. For example, you may need to rotate foods with longer cooking times.

Inconsistent Temperatures

A typical sign of an oven not reaching desired temperatures is undercooked food. This is commonly caused by a bad temperature sensor. Before you replace the sensor, make sure it's not touching the side of the oven wall as this can produce an inaccurate reading. If replacing the sensor does not fix the issue, then you will need to calibrate the oven. Begin by setting the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and taking an accurate temperature reading every half an hour. Adjust the oven’s temperature dial based on these readings and re-test until the oven is calibrated correctly.

Door Not Sealing

A woman opening an oven door.

An oven door that does not shut tightly can cause a number of problems, including temperature fluctuations. You can fix a problematic door by inspecting the seal clips, which are typically located towards the front of the appliance. If the seal clip is heavily soiled, burned, or damaged, then it needs to be replaced with a factory part. You can also ensure that your oven door is not warped by loosening the panel screws, twisting the door back and forth a few times, and then re-tightening the screws. After you shut the door, inspect the sides for any large gaps.

Light Stops Working

One of the easiest oven repairs is a burned out bulb. If the bulb in your oven has stopped working, try replacing it with a new one. If that does not fix the problem, you might be dealing with a bad light switch. The light switch is connected to the bulb via a wire and an electrical control. If you are not familiar with working around electrical wiring, it's best to consult a repairman for the fix. Before attempting to repair any electrical components on an oven, make sure the appliance is unplugged from the outlet and proceed with caution.

Self-Cleaning Doesn’t Work

A woman touching a dial on an oven.

An oven typically uses a different setting for self-cleaning than it does for preparing food. This makes it possible for an oven to cook just fine, but not reach an optimal heating temperature while in self-cleaning mode. Fortunately, fixing this problem usually requires replacing the thermostat inside the oven.

Replacing the Oven

There are certain problems that are not worth repairing. This includes a damaged rack system, rust wear inside the oven, and old age. If your oven is older than 30 years, there's a good chance that replacement parts are no longer available and a total replacement might be an easier fix.