When your oven goes out, it turns the entire kitchen upside down. Meals that were once so easy to make are now impossible, and you’re not even really sure if your oven is safe to be around. Do you need to unplug it? What are you supposed to do about it? How do I even know what part of the oven is broken?
It may be the heating element. We’ll talk about what that is and five signs that it’s time to replace your oven element.
What is the Oven Element?
The oven element isn’t hard to find. It’s a simple and essential part of an oven that you see every time you open or close the appliance. The heating element is the part of the oven that gets hot, letting off all the heat into the oven that cooks your food. You’ll know it by the reddish glow it gets when it’s on—that means it’s working. It glows because an electric current is running through it.
Ovens typically have two elements: one on the bottom that is used for most applications and one on the top used for broiling. Either one can go out.
The bottom heating element can be accessed easily enough: it has metal feet and rests on the oven floor. It connects to the oven’s back through a plate with a couple of screws, and behind that plate, two metal prongs connect to two wires inside the oven.
How Do You Know It’s Time to Replace the Oven Element?
Remember how we said that the heating element is the part of the oven that glows? Well, if it’s not glowing, or if it’s not glowing uniformly throughout the element, then it might be broken. To test this out, heat your oven to 350 degrees and let it sit for ten minutes. Then open it up and take a look. If it isn’t brightly lit up or is only lit up in patches, then it’s probably time to get it replaced.
The next way to tell if your element needs to be replaced is to give it a good inspection the next time you’re down cleaning the oven floor. Check the element for signs of age, such as cracks, blisters, sagging, deformity, or other factors. If it looks like it’s past its prime, then get it replaced.
This one may seem obvious, but if your food isn’t cooking, then that’s a pretty good sign that your oven isn’t heating up enough, which could mean a bad heating element. However, before blaming a frozen turkey on a bad heating element, try heating the oven with a probe thermometer inside to check the temperature. Also, be careful because while it could be the oven element, it could also be the temperature sensor probe, not to be confused with the probe thermometer. A temperature sensor probe is a component of your oven, which gauges the temperature inside and gives the oven element instructions.
Your oven may be dirty. If you’re looking in your oven and seeing many black patches on the oven element, it may be that the element isn’t heating correctly, or it may be that the element has charred remnants of spilled food on it. While most of that will burn off, it’s wise to clean your oven before replacing the oven element.
How Do I Replace My Oven Element?
Replacing the oven element is a simple enough job if you consider yourself reasonably handy around the house, have the proper tools, and know where to buy the right part. Here’s a step-by-step breakdown of replacing the oven element.
- Turn off the power to the oven. This is VERY IMPORTANT. You should do two things here: first, flip the circuit breaker that goes to the oven (there may be two breakers for the oven—if so, turn them both off), and second, just to be on the safe side, unplug the oven from the wall.
- If your oven has a panel that covers the heating element, remove it. (Not all ovens have one of these.)
- Unscrew the feet that hold the oven element to the floor of the oven. Most oven elements have two screws in the front and two in the back, which connect them to the oven wall.
- Detach the wires running to the element. If necessary, use a pair of needlenose pliers to complete this task. Also, be sure to remember which way the wires were facing so you can put them back in the correct orientation later. BE CAREFUL: don’t let the wires fall through the holes at the back of the oven or else you’ll have to take apart the entire back panel.
- Write down the make and model of the oven element. This should be written clearly, typically just below the wires. Write down the make, model, and serial code if it has one. Make sure you get this information before you throw the old element away.
- Purchase a new oven element. This can be done at some oven repair stores, large appliance hardware stores, or online such as in this website in the Used Range Parts section.
- Fit the new element into the oven, precisely where you retrieved the old one. Make sure that all the screw holes line up with the holes in the oven.
- Reconnect the wires. Again, if necessary, you can use the pliers again to make this job easier. And remember which way you had unattached them so they can be reattached in a similar fashion.
- Screw the element back in place, both on the back oven wall and the two feet on the floor.
- If there was a base panel, replace it.
- Turn the breakers back on, and plug your oven back in.
- Test the new element. Start on low heat and wait a few minutes to see if it’s warming. If it is warming, switch to 350 degrees and heat it for ten minutes. Then check to see if it’s glowing. IF YOUR OVEN DOES NOT HEAT UP, either on low or on 350 degrees, then you will need to consult an electrician as the problem is probably wiring.
- Be aware that a new element may smoke a bit as it burns off a protective coating from the factory.
Who Can Replace My Oven Element For Me?
If all of that sounds like too much to do—you don’t have time, you don’t have the tools, you don’t have the strength—then call us at Maysfield Appliance. We have been fixing broken ovens for over forty years and not only do we have the experience to do the job quickly and efficiently, but we also have a proven track record of safety. And we will always have the right parts—that’s one thing you won’t need to worry about.
Do you need your oven element replaced?