With the holidays approaching, the one kitchen appliance you want to make sure is in optimum condition is your range or oven. Whether you’re spending hours preparing and cooking a turkey, baking cookies in the shape of snowmen or reindeer, or, even, preparing a tray of nachos for a casual New Year celebration, you’re going to fall short of your goal if the oven is unable to maintain the appropriate temperature. One the key components responsible for the oven heating up properly is the temperature sensor…
What does an oven temperature sensor do?
For gas ovens, an igniter or spark electrode is used to ignite the gas being supplied through the burner tube to create a flame to heat the oven. The igniter will remain on to keep the gas safety valve open until the oven reaches the designated temperature. On gas ovens that use an electronic control board and temperature sensor, the appliance’s control will utilize the sensor to assist in regulating the oven temperature by monitoring the resistance to the electrical current as the temperature varies. When the selected temperature is reached, the control will shut off the voltage to the igniter. This cycle is repeated throughout the baking or broiling process to maintain the proper oven temperature.
When you select the bake or broil function on an electric oven, the oven control will allow either one leg of alternating current (120 volts) or two legs of alternating current (240 volts) to travel to the bake or broil element, closing the circuit and causing the element to heat up. As with gas ovens, if you have an electric model that uses an electronic control board, the oven sensor will be used to monitor the oven’s temperature. When the selected temperature is reached, the oven control will shut off the voltage to the element. As noted above, the cycle is repeated to maintain a consistent temperature.
NOTE: The temperature designated by the control is only an average; the actual temperature will fluctuate throughout the cycle. Convection ovens will reduce this fluctuation by using a motorized fan, with or without its own heating element, to circulate the heated air evenly throughout the oven cavity.
If a gas oven temperature sensor is defective, the resistance reported to the control board could be inaccurate, resulting in an incorrect oven temperature. If an electric oven temperature sensor is faulty, the voltage being sent to the bake or broil element may be shut off prematurely, or the element may not receive any voltage at all.
How can I tell if the oven temperature sensor is faulty?
A faulty oven sensor isn’t the only cause of incorrect oven temperature; this problem could also be caused by a defective igniter, malfunctioning oven control board, and a damaged burner tube or heating element. So, how can you tell if the oven sensor is the source of the problem? By testing the part with a multimeter…
- Rotate the range selection dial on the multimeter to the lowest setting for Ohms of resistance.
- Calibrate the meter, if necessary, by touching the metal ends of the probes together while adjusting the meter needle to “zero” (this is for analog meters only).
- Remove the temperature sensor from the oven or make sure it is isolated from the wiring or panels.
- Touch the end of one probe to one of the sensor’s terminals and the end of the second probe to the other terminal.
- For most sensors, the meter display should show a reading between 1,000 and 1,100 Ohms of resistance at room temperature, which indicates the sensor should be functioning properly.
- If the meter display is showing a significantly different reading, it’s very likely the sensor is malfunctioning. Be aware that some sensors operate at Ohm readings outside the parameter mentioned above. You should consult the manufacturer’s specifications to confirm what a proper reading should be.
Accessing, removing, and replacing the temperature sensor
In order to test the temperature sensor, you’re going to need to know how to remove it from the oven. If the sensor is faulty, you’ll also want to know how to install a new one. While the uninstallation/reinstallation process can vary depending on the oven or range model, the procedure is usually very straight-forward and will not require much time or effort for an average do-it-yourselfer:
- Before you begin, be sure to unplug the appliance’s power cord from the electrical outlet.
- To remove or replace the oven sensor, you will often have to move the range away from the wall to access the rear panel. Ask a friend or relative to help you do this.
- You may need to unthread screws to remove one or more brackets before you’re able to reach a rear access panel. Unthread the screws securing the access panel and set the panel aside.
- You should now be able to disconnect the temperature sensor wire connecter or remove the two wires from its terminals.
- Unthread the mounting screw or screws securing the sensor to the rear panel and pull the old sensor out.
For some oven models, you will need to access the oven sensor from the front of the appliance:
- To make it easier to reach the sensor from inside the oven, you can uninstall the oven door. On some models, this can be done by opening the door to the “broil” position and lifting it off of the hinges. For other models, you will need to fully open the oven door, rotate the two hinge locks forward, partially close the door, then lift and pull the door toward you to remove.
- You should now be able to unthread the screw or screws securing the oven sensor to the rear interior of the oven.
- Pull the sensor out far enough to disconnect the wires or wire connecter, but make sure the wires don’t slip back behind the rear interior panel.
To install a new oven temperature sensor, you can simply repeat the uninstall steps in reverse:
- Connect the wire connecter to the new sensor or attach the wires to the terminals.
- Insert the sensor through the hole in the rear panel or align the sensor on the rear interior panel of the oven. Thread the screw or screws to secure.
- Replace the rear access panel, if applicable, along with any necessary brackets.
- Move the appliance back against the wall.
- To reinstall the oven door, confirm the hinges are in the “broil” position then align the door on the hinges and close. If the door hinges are fastened to the door itself, insert the hinges into the hinge slots on the oven frame at an approximate forty-five degree angle, lower the door to its fully open position, then rotate the hinge locks back, and close the door.
Plug the appliance’s power cord back into the electrical outlet.
Find the right oven temperature sensor and more with Repair Clinic
If your oven’s temperature sensor turns out to be defective, you can easily purchase a replacement sensor from Repair Clinic.com. Enter the full model number of your range or wall oven in the Repair Clinic website search bar to see a complete list of compatible parts, then select “Sensor & Thermistor” from the “Part Category” filter followed by “Temperature Sensor” from the “Part Title” filter to identify the specific sensor that works with your model. Need any other oven components? Repair Clinic stocks genuine manufacturer replacement parts that fit ovens from all the top names such as GE, Bosch, KitchenAid, Electrolux, LG, Kenmore, Samsung, and Hotpoint. Even better, Repair Clinic has hundreds of hours of “how-to” video instruction to take you step-by-step through the entire repair process. With a little DIY elbow grease, your turkey, cookies, or nachos will be cooked to perfection for the holidays.