Why Your Oven Isn't Heating Properly

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  • 1 hours
  • Intermediate
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When a major appliance in the house isn’t working properly, all productivity seems to come to a grinding halt. The oven can make or break that casserole you’ve slaved over or the turkey you’re counting on as the main dish, so if it isn’t heating properly it’s time to figure out why before you ruin another pie.

Step 1 - Start with the Breaker

If you’re not getting any power to your oven, start by checking the circuit breaker inside the circuit box. The range should have its own designated circuit. Flip the circuit off and back on to see if power returns to the range.

Step 2 - Use an Oven Thermometer

If your oven seems to run a little hot or a little not-so-hot, find out how much it varies with a simple and inexpensive oven thermometer. Simply place the thermometer in the oven and turn it to a specific temperature.

Try it a few times at different temperatures. If it’s consistently off by say, 25 degrees, the easiest response is to adjust the temperature knob slightly higher or lower accordingly.

Step 3 - Evaluate Heating Element

oven heating element

In electric ranges, the heating elements warm the oven. It’s not uncommon for heating elements to wear out and they’re easy to replace. Turn the oven on and watch for the elements to glow. If they don’t, it’s time to replace them.

Ensure the circuit breaker is turned off and the unit is unplugged. The element typically plugs into place and is often reinforced with a few small screws. To replace, simply unscrew and remove. Then place the replacement element and screw it into place.

Step 4 - Inspect Igniter

In gas ranges, the ignitor may be faulty. This is the piece that lights the gas as it enters the oven. It can be located inside the oven or underneath the unit. Again make sure power and gas are turned off to the unit.

Try cleaning the unit with a toothbrush to remove any debris. Use a pin or needle to unclog the tip. If that doesn’t solve the problem you’ll need to replace the ignitor unit or have a certified technician do it for you.

Step 5 - Check the Temperature Sensor

The temperature sensor is a likely culprit if your oven isn’t maintaining consistent heat. You can test the unit using an ohmmeter. Also, ensure it’s not touching the inside walls of the oven. The placement should measure the heat circulating throughout, but contact with the walls will give off a false result.

Step 6 - Recalibrate the Oven

Whether you replace parts or not, you may need to recalibrate your oven. Different types of ovens are recalibrated differently so check your original or online manual for directions.

Step 7 - The Oven Door Won’t Shut

Not only is it a burn hazard, but an oven door that doesn’t shut properly will release heat and create an uneven cooking atmosphere. Even though you’re not working with the electrical or gas components here, it’s still best to unplug the oven and turn off the gas.

Open the door and inspect the hinges. The hinges or the springs may be bent or rusted. To remove the door, open it slightly and pull it straight up. Some models have a screw or two holding it in place. Replace any malfunctioning door hinges or springs.

Step 8 - Replace Rubber Gasket

Man repairing an oven

Another area that can cause heat leakage is the rubber gasket that surrounds the opening of the oven. Inspect your rubber gasket for gapping, tears, and other wear. To replace, you’ll press the new gasket firmly into the slot, making sure to create a solid seal all the way around.

Step 9 - Investigate the Door Sensor and Latch

Although an open door doesn’t affect the ability of most ovens to heat, it can affect the light and the self-clean mode so check it out while you’re troubleshooting. If your unit has a receiver for the unit in the door, make sure they have a good connection and that the receiver isn’t blocked with debris.

For other units, the door sensor may be faulty. Find your door sensor unit with the aid of a manual and replace it if necessary. Also check to ensure the lock on your oven with a self-cleaning feature is not in the locked position. This will also keep the door from closing properly.