Whether a complete malfunction or a frustrating tweak, we all encounter an electric oven problem occasionally. Knowing what causes simple oven faults and how to fix them will maximise the quality of your bake and save you a bit of money. If you are specifically suffering from bread baking oven issues like loss of steam, or unevenly baked bread, I’ve got some tips on the baking bread in a home oven post. Otherwise, let’s see if we can fix your oven problem here.
Is the light or fan working but no heat? If so, we can probably fix it. But if there is no sign of life it’s probably due to the electrics, so a professional should deal with it.
If your oven is warming up, but very slowly it’s an issue with one of the elements. Most home ovens have elements at the top and bottom of the oven. They are sometimes called the “Bake” and “Broil”. Larger ovens also have an element along the back wall.
Try switching the heat setting on the oven to determine which element is broken. Once you’ve found which one isn’t heating, you’ll have to replace it. If neither oven element heats, the problem is probably caused by the temperature sensor.
Elements are relatively easy to replace, providing they are exposed. Some designs place the element outside the oven chamber which can be a bit fiddly to get into. Search for the oven model on YouTube and you should find a guide on how to do it. When opening up the oven, wear gloves to protect yourself from sharp edges!
A faulty oven temperature sensor can output incorrect temperatures which can prevent the oven from powering up. A modern electric oven will display an error code if there’s a problem, basic models require a physical diagnosis. A multimeter can be used if you know how to use one. The resistance should rise as the temperature of the oven increases. Repairing and replacing a temperature sensor can be done yourself but it is quite hard so is best done by a professional.
If you discover your oven’s operating at a temperature that’s higher or lower than the one set, it’s probably a faulty thermostat or temperature sensor that’s causing it. Re-calibrating the thermostat usually fixes the problem – providing the temperature difference is less than 30C (50F). When a larger discrepancy is noted, replace the thermostat as well as the heat sensor as both will have suffered excessive damage.
Electric ovens are controlled by a thermostat which turns the heat on or off. A delay between the sensor alerting the thermostat with the latest oven temperature reading causes a fluctuation in the temperature of the oven. It’s common for an oven to be as much as 30 degrees above or below the desired temperature!
Surprisingly, big oven temperature variations are highly likely. Reasons include a defective temperature sensor, fan breakdown, erratic heat distribution, or oven hot spots. The location of the temperature sensor can also cause differences as high as 50 degrees!
The time it takes an oven to reach temperature is down to the power it draws from the mains and the efficiency of the elements. There is little you can do to speed up the time it takes an oven to heat up without upgrading it.
When baking bread with a baking stone allow plenty of time for the stone to fully warm. Place the stone in the cold oven and after the thermostat light indicates the oven is up to temperature, give it another 30-60 minutes. Thicker stones can take even longer!
The temperature of the baking stone can be reported using an infa-red thermometer.
If you notice a drop in the performance of your oven, check the elements are heating correctly. You may have to replace one that is faulty or fix some loose fittings.
Food and grime stuck to the sides of the oven can get hot and start smoking. The solution is to turn it off and let the oven cool down. Once cool you’ll need to clean it. I’ve had great success with oven cleaners and now that I’m in my thirties a clean oven is more enjoyable than a night out. Here’s a cleaner that’s worked for me:
There is more we could mention such as broken fans, blocking air vents and control panels, but I’d rather keep this a simple guide to fixing oven temperature problems. If you think your issue is more complicated it’s best to not tackle it yourself.
Call an oven repair specialist, explain your problem and let them decide on the best solution! Be careful when hiring an oven repair specialist as not many are qualified to deal with your home electrics. Explain your issue with them before they come out.
Hi, I’m Gareth Busby, a baker, bread baking coach and college lecturer. I’m here to help you make better bread and learn about the baking industry.
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