Unfortunately, electric stove burners, otherwise known as cooktop surface coil elements, will wear out over time. This is just a result of the element doing its job of heating up to boil a pot of water or cook food in a frying pan. While surface elements are made to withstand extremely high temperatures, the element consistently heating up then cooling over years of use can eventually damage the circuit or cause it to short. While it’s common for budget-conscious homeowners to simply rely on one of the other three or four working surface elements if one burns out, it’s relatively easy to replace a defective element with a new one (and they’re not that expensive).
How to replace electric stove burners
Before you attempt to replace a surface coil element, be sure to shut off the power supply to the appliance or unplug the appliance’s power cord to prevent shock. Many electric range cooktops and stand-alone cooktops will utilize conventional coil elements while smooth glass stovetops found on electric ranges will utilize radiant coils. The process of replacing a conventional coil element is fairly basic whereas accessing a radiant coil can be more involved.
To remove and replace a conventional coil element:
- Lift the element up to a forty-degree angle and pull to detach the element terminals from the receptacle.
- When replacing or reinstalling a conventional coil element, first confirm the drip pan is properly aligned and the notch in the pan is directly opposite the receptacle. Insert the element’s terminals into the receptacle at a forty-degree angle, then lower the element so the metal support rests in the notch in the drip pan.
Accessing a radiant coil:
- Since radiant coils are installed underneath a glass cooktop, you will need to release the cooktop from the range or detach it from the base. You will often need to first pull the range away from the kitchen wall or counter to do this.
- When the cooktop is part of a range, your first step is often opening the oven door to access the screws securing the main top.
- Unthread the screws to release the main top. Be aware, you may need to remove a cover and/or the control panel first, depending on the model.
- Lift the main top up and support it.
- A stand-alone glass stovetop model will usually require you to uninstall the appliance from the countertop then separate the glass cooktop from the base. This may require you to disconnect the junction box wiring for enough slack to fully remove the appliance from the countertop.
- Once the glass cooktop or main top is separated from the base or range, you should be able to release the radiant element retaining clips from a support bracket to detach the element. Some models will require you to unthread screws to release the support bracket from the main top before you can fully detach the element.
- Note the orientation of the wires connected to the element, then disconnect the wires.
- Since new radiant elements are shipped without retaining clips, you will probably need to transfer the existing clips from the old element to the new one. The element casing will usually have numbers engraved to indicated where the clips should be positioned and secured with screws.
- Connect the wires to the appropriate terminals.
- Snap the retaining clips into the appropriate slots in the support bracket.
- If necessary, realign the support bracket on the underside of the cooktop and rethread the screws to secure.
- Reinstall the main top or cooktop, securing it with the screws.
- Reinstall the control panel or any covers, as necessary.
- Reposition the stand-along cooktop in the hole in the countertop (reconnecting the junction box wiring if necessary). Or push the range back against the wall or into place in the counter opening.
With the repair completed, restore the power supply to the range or cooktop, or plug the appliance’s power cord back in.
Testing an electric cooktop coil element
There are a number of reasons a surface coil element won’t heat up apart from the element itself being worn out: the element receptacle could be damaged, there could be a loose or burnt wire connection, or the element switch could be defective. So how can you tell if the surface element itself is burned out? If it’s a conventional coil element, first check to see if the coil has any visible breaks or blistering. When inspecting a radiant coil, look for breaks or burn spots. You can also test both conventional coil and radiant coil elements with a multimeter to determine if the part has continuity – a continuous electrical path present in the coil.
To test the element:
- When using an analog-style Ohm meter, make sure the meter is calibrated by pinching the red and black probes together while setting the needle to “zero”.
- When using a digital meter, rotate the selector dial to the lowest setting for Ohms of resistance.
- Remove the surface element from the cooktop or make sure it is isolated from the electrical circuit.
- Touch the red probe to one of the element’s terminals and the black probe to the other terminal.
- If the meter display shows a result between zero and fifty Ohms of resistance, the element has proper continuity and should be functioning. If the analog meter’s needle doesn’t move or the digital display does not change significantly, then the element does not have continuity and is defective.
- You can also test a radiant coil to determine if it has shorted by touching one probe to a terminal and the other probe to the metal casing. If the meter indicates continuity, you know the component has shorted and will need to be replaced.
Find the right electric stovetop parts with Repair Clinic
Repair Clinic stocks all the replacement parts you need to keep your electric stovetop fully functional, including coil surface elements, element switches, receptacles, indicator lights, control knobs, and terminal blocks. Type the full model number of your cooktop or range into the Repair Clinic website search bar to reveal a complete list of compatible parts. You can then use the part category and part title filters to narrow the results to identify the exact part you need. While Repair Clinic carries parts that fit cooktops and ranges from all the top brands, including Amana, Bosch, GE, Thermador, Electrolux, LG, Kenmore, Samsung, and Whirlpool, you’ll want to make sure you’re selecting a component that is a direct match for your specific model.