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Electric Range or Stove Repair DIY Troubleshooting

by 411 on Jan 4, 2020

What Is Wrong With Your Range / Stove / Oven?

The burners--or heating elements--of a range/oven are the heating units that you cook things on. We call the top area where the burners are the "range". Some people call it the "cooktop," others simply say the "top of the stove."

In an electric oven, the broiler's heating element is located inside the oven, near the top. The top metal rack of the oven serves as the broiler rack or shelf.

Warning! To avoid personal injury or even death, always disconnect your appliance from its power source--that is, unplug it or break the connection at the circuit breaker or fuse box--before you do any troubleshooting or repair work on your appliance. Also, because some components may have sharp edges, use caution while working on your appliance.

Note: If your repair problem isn't listed, click here to email or chat with a repair expert.

It's stopped completely

If your range/oven doesn't seem to work at all, check these:

Fuse/circuit breaker

Check to see if power is getting to the range/oven. Does anything turn on--even a light? If not, check for a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker.

Main wiring

Often the main wiring connection from the house, at the range/oven, gets burned and so breaks the connection. Then you may have to replace the power cord to the range/oven, and the terminal block that the wire is attached to.

Range/oven wiring

There may be a broken or burned wire at the back of the range/oven. If you repair any of the wires, use only proper appliance-grade wire and wire connectors.

It won't bake

Usually, when an oven won't bake, it's because the bake element is burned out. The bake element is the black, pencil-thick tube at the bottom of the oven. When the oven heats, the element glows red. This element has an expected life-span of several years. It may last for only one; it may last for many more. When the element burns out, you need to replace it.

It bakes poorly

When the food you're baking is done on top but not on the bottom--or when baking just takes far too long to finish--the bake element may be burned out.

You may get fooled into thinking it's working, because the oven is hot inside. But many electric ovens use the broil element, too, during the preheat and bake cycles. So the food may be getting heated only by the broil element, which causes poor baking results.

If the bake element is burned out, replacing it should solve the problem. Otherwise, you need to further troubleshoot the oven's electrical system to locate the defective wire or component.

When the temperature is consistent but too high or too low, it could be one of several different things. First, check to see if the thermostat sensing bulb has come loose from its holder. It could be lying on the floor of the oven or resting on the heating element. This would cause the oven to not heat correctly.

If the thermostat bulb is not dislodged, it's likely that the thermostat or sensor is either mis-calibrated or defective.

Electronic ovens with a digital display use a sensor to monitor oven temperature. To solve temperature problems for these models, you may need to replace the sensor. On some digital-display models, you can calibrate the temperature using the key pad. See your operator's manual for details.

Ovens without a digital display often use a mechanical system for controlling temperature. On many of these units, you can remove the thermostat knob and adjust the knob itself to more accurately represent the actual setting of the thermostat.

If, when you remove the knob, there's a screw on the back of it with a small calibration plate, you can loosen the screw, adjust the plate, then tighten the screw again. If the knob isn't adjustable, and the oven temperature is off by more than 30 to 40 degrees, you need to replace the thermostat to solve the problem.

It won't broil

Usually, when an oven won't broil, it's because the broiler element is burned out. The broiler element in an electric oven is the black, pencil-thick tube at the top of the oven. When the broiler is on, the element glows red. This element has an expected life-span of several years. It may last for only one; it may last for many more. When the element burns out, you need to replace it.

A burner doesn't work

Heating elements eventually burn out. Sometimes, when an element burns out, you can see that the coil burns in two, or blisters and bubbles.

When your heating element burns out, you have to replace it because they are not repairable. If, when the heating element burns out, the infinite switch that controls it also fails, you have to replace it too. Also see the "A burner works only intermittently" section, next.

A burner works only intermittently

If one of your burner heating elements works only intermittently, it's probably because of worn or bad contacts in the receptacle that the element plugs into. On most electric ranges, you can remove the element by lifting it up several inches and firmly pulling it away from its attachment (receptacle). Read your owner's manual to learn the correct technique for your range.

If, after removing the element, you see that the ends of the element that were plugged in are pitted, corroded, burned, scarred, or rusted, replace both the element and the receptacle.

I can't adjust the burner temperature

If your burner always heats to "high" when it's on--regardless of how you set the burner knob--the switch contacts are shorted closed. Check the circuit for any other grounds, then replace the switch.

It won't bake or broil

If neither the bake nor the broiler heating elements heat, but the range burners still work, the clock may be set for a timed or self-cleaning cycle. Check to be sure the clock buttons and knobs are set properly. If your clock has a knob that says "push for man(ual)", push the knob in and try the baking and broiling elements again. If it still does not operate properly, you probably have a defect in the thermostat, selector switch, or common wiring.

If the oven does not have a separate bake/broil/etc. selector switch, the problem may be with the thermostat. But it's not easy to check the selector switch or thermostat for proper operation. If you suspect a problem in this area, call a qualified appliance repair technician.

The clock stopped

The non-electronic clocks on electric range/ovens often don't last long. That's a problem, because the clock is essential to the self-cleaning and timed-bake features. Clocks are rarely repairable--you usually just have to replace them.

Electronic clocks have been more reliable. But, they're often integrated with several other features of the range/oven. So when the clock develops a defect, it often renders the entire oven and broiler inoperative. The electronic clock is usually integrated with a circuit board, and the touchpad that holds the buttons you press is often a separate component. If your electronic clock is defective, you may need to replace the touchpad, circuit board, or both. Although these may be expensive, they aren't usually very complicated to replace.

There's an error code on the digital display

Most electronic range/ovens have built-in diagnostics to help you and/or your technician to troubleshoot a range/oven defect. The diagnostics include special codes that may appear in the digital display when the system detects a defect. Because the codes vary from among manufacturers, you need to consult the owner's manual or contact the manufacturer to find out the meaning of the code.

The temperature is wrong

See the "It bakes poorly" section.

The oven light doesn't work

The interior oven light in most ovens is a standard 40 watt appliance bulb. Often, to change the bulb, you first need to remove a shield or glass dome. If the bulb isn't burned out, the problem may be with the switch on the oven door frame. If the switch works poorly, intermittently, or not at all, you need to replace it.

There's a self-cleaning problem

The self-cleaning system on an electric oven is fairly complex. To be able to set and use the self-cleaning feature, you need to read and understand the owner's manual. If you have problems with this system, call a qualified appliance repair technician.

The oven door won't close

If your oven door has gotten bent or warped (maybe you rested something heavy on it…), you need to remove the door, disassemble it, and straighten it. You can lift most oven doors off of their hinges by opening the door several inches to its first "stop," and lifting the entire door straight up.

If the hinges have become worn, damaged, or bent, you probably need to replace them. We recommend replacing both hinges at the same time, to prevent uneven wear of the undamaged hinge.

The indicator light doesn't work correctly

When an indicator light has stopped working, you may be able to replace just the bulb--but you usually have to replace the entire light assembly. Alternatively, there could be a problem with your burner sensor (stuck open or closed) or your indicator light circuit.

The oven is hot on the outside

It may be normal for your oven to become quite warm on the outside during baking, broiling, or self-cleaning. In some cases, the front door of an oven can become too hot to comfortably touch. Or, if the integrity of the door seal is poor, heat could escape from the oven and cause the overheating. Consult a qualified appliance repair technician.

Note: If you suspect that any part of the oven is dangerously hot, turn the oven off immediately and consult a qualified appliance repair technician.

I see sparks!

If you ever see sparks coming from the range or oven, unplug it immediately. Then, when the unit has cooled down, try to find exactly where the sparks came from.

If the sparks came from an obvious place like the surface burner heating elements or the bake/broil element, repair or replace any defective component you find. If you can't locate the place the sparks came from--or can't fix the problem yourself--contact a qualified appliance repair technician.

The drip pans need replacing

On most electric ranges, you can lift up the heating elements several inches and/or remove them, then remove and replace the drip bowl.

Work on these areas of an appliance may require help from an appliance repair person or other qualified technicians

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