Troubleshooting an Oven: Doesn’t Maintain Temperature

A built-in stove with the door ajar.

There are a number of reasons why you may find that your oven doesn't maintain its temperature, and troubleshooting oven heating elements is not too complicated—you should be able to manage this in a few hours. When you are trying to conclude the cause of your oven not maintaining its temperature, you need to identify the possible problems and then understand how to make the repairs.

Heating Element Is Broken

A damaged heating element is perhaps the most common cause of the oven not maintaining its temperature. The fact that the heat still comes on is a sign that the element is working, but it may lose heat if the connection is incomplete, or loose. The heating element can be removed and replaced easily.

Test the heating element by firing up the oven with the door open, and your hand close to the front of the element. You should be able to feel it warming up and staying warm. If it isn’t maintaining heat, turn off the oven, make sure it is completely cool, and unplug the appliance from its electrical outlet. For extra precaution, turn off the breaker to the oven. Take off the screws which hold the heating element in place. Check your warranty or user manual first for guidance on replacing the heating element. If you’re not under warranty, you can take the heating element to a store or check online for a replacement.

Warning: Follow standard safety precautions when working with electrical components. Unsafe handling can lead to injury and death.

Thermostat is Broken

The connections on your oven which set the temperature can be damaged easily, and if they are loose or broken, then they may be affecting the ability of the oven to tell what temperature you require. Make sure the oven is turned off and completely cool. Unplug the appliance from its electrical outlet. For extra precaution, turn off the breaker to the oven. Pull out the oven setting switches, and then take off the panel which is just behind them. You should now be looking at a set of electrical wires and connections. Check that each of these are working correctly, and if there are any loose parts, fix them with a solder iron.

You may also replace the front panel if this has become cracked, and is no longer able to hold the switches in place. You should also look at the thermostat connected to the oven, remove it, and test its functionality. If the oven still does not warm up correctly, then you’ll need to replace the thermostat.

Warning: Follow standard safety precautions when working with electrical components. Unsafe handling can lead to injury and death.

Electrical Connections Failure

If your oven is suffering from intermittent temperature failure, then you may find that you need to check the electrical cords and plugs which send power to your oven. A loose connection here can mean that power to the oven is not consistent—causing the oven’s temperature to fluctuate. This is also a dangerous scenario because a loose electrical socket connection can cause a fire. Unplug the cable, and try putting it into another socket to rule out the connection. If the oven begins functioning properly, you will need to replace your electrical outlets. Always follow safety precautions and industry standards for electricians when handling electrical components.

Warning: Follow standard safety precautions when working with electrical components. Unsafe handling can lead to injury and death.

If these steps don’t work, then you may have a problem with the electrical connections inside the oven, and after ruling out cost-effective solutions that you can DIY, you’ll be knowledgeable when hiring an expert to assist you in diagnosing your oven’s failure.

This troubleshooting guide for your oven is intended to be an overview to get you started on narrowing down the basic reasons why your oven isn’t heating correctly, and offers some ways that you can DIY understand and troubleshoot your oven’s failure points.

Troubleshooting an Oven That Doesn't Maintain Temperature FAQ

How is temperature control maintained in an oven?

When you're using the oven, you turn it on when you want it to get hot and turn it back off again when you're done. But inside the oven, there is much more going on.

When you hit the button to make the oven turn on to a certain degree, the oven will heat up and heat up unitl it gets to that temperature. Then, the heat stops.

As the temperature lowers again, the heat turns itself on again. The oven keeps doing this over and over until you turn it off.

The internal thermostat measures the temperature of the oven and tells the heat when to turn on and off.

Why is my oven temperature off?

There are several reasons why your oven may not come on at all or may not heat up very much. If you have a gas oven, there could be an issue with the gas or with the igniter inside the oven.

Turn on one of the burners to test the gas and igniter. You should hear a clicking and then a noise kind of like a whooshing sound.

If you hear the clicking but not the second noise, you may need to replace your igniter.

In electric ovens, first ensure it is receiving power. The breaker could have tripped and stopped the power to the oven, which will keep it from heating up at all.

Otherwise, the heating element could be going out. Turn the oven on and look for any glowing red inside, indicating that it is heating up.

If the glow is weak or nonexistent, your heating element may be bad.

If the oven will not heat to the right temperature, there's a good chance something has gone wrong with the temperature sensor itself.

If none of these parts are causing the problem, your oven may need to be calibrated.

What are the symptoms of a faulty oven thermostat?

If your oven thermostat has gone bad or is wearing out, you will probably notice that your food is being cooked unevenly or that it is getting burned. Inconsistent temperatures and too high temperatures are common symptoms of a bad oven thermostat.

Is an oven supposed to maintain temperature?

Ovens turn on and off the entire time they are being used in order to maintain the temperature you set within just a few degrees. The heat will shut on and off the entire time to keep the temperature as consistent as possible.

Ovens are designed with heating elements that create uniform heat all over the oven.

What is the lifespan of an oven thermostat?

Most oven thermostats will last, on average, around 10 years. Often, oven technology itself is upgraded faster than you will need to replace the thermostat because it has gone faulty.