What Would Cause an Electric Oven To Not Heat Up?

In last week’s blog entry we addressed the top reasons why a gas oven would fail to heat. Well, it’s only fair to show the same courtesy to those who depend on an electric oven for baking and broiling, so today we’ll examine the top reasons why an electric oven won’t heat up. While there are some similarities between gas and electric models, you will need to understand the specifics concerning how an electric oven operates before you can properly diagnose the appliance’s malfunction.

How electric ovens work

Unlike gas ovens, which primarily operate using 120 volts of alternating current, most electric ovens require 240 volts of alternating current running through two legs of voltage (each carrying 120 volts). The first leg of voltage is usually regulated by the oven control. The second leg of voltage may also be regulated by the control or it may be continuously present at one side of the bake and broil elements. When you select the bake or broil function, the oven control allows either the first leg of voltage or both legs to travel to the bake or broil element, closing the circuit and causing the element to heat up. A sensing bulb on the oven thermostat, or an oven sensor, monitors the temperature in the oven, and when the selected temperature is reached, the oven control will shut off the voltage to the element. This cycle is repeated throughout the baking or broiling process to maintain the proper temperature.

Keep in mind, 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.

Six reasons your electric oven won’t heat up

When troubleshooting why your electric oven fails to heat, be aware that the following are the six most common reasons, presented from most likely to least likely:

  • Burned-out element – If the bake or broil element fails to glow red when you turn on the oven, the element has probably burned-out. You can often determine that an element has burned-out by simply inspecting it for visible breaks or blistering. You can also use a multimeter to test the element for continuity – a continuous electrical path present in the part. If the element tests negative for continuity then it is defective and will need to be replaced.
  • Incoming power problem – As noted above, electric ovens operate using 240 volts of alternating current through two legs of voltage. If one leg of voltage is shut off by a tripped breaker or a blown fuse, the element will not receive the voltage needed to heat up, even if there is enough power to keep the display board illuminated or the oven light bulb on. You should confirm the circuit breaker for the kitchen is in the “on” position and replace any blown fuses if necessary. If you suspect the electrical outlet is not providing sufficient voltage, you can test the outlet using a voltage meter set to “Volts AC”. Be aware that readings can vary between 210 and 240 volts.
  • Loose or burnt wire connection – The bake or broil element power supply wires will commonly burn out near the heat source and appear visibly damaged. You should confirm the wires are free of damage and that the wire connection is secure.
  • Blown thermal fuse – On some electric oven models, a thermal fuse will blow if the oven gets too hot, shutting off the power to the oven. As with the elements, you can use a multimeter to test the fuse for continuity to determine if the component needs to be replaced.
  • Thermostat sensing bulb – The thermostat’s sensing bulb is filled with liquid that expands when it heats up, mechanically operating the thermostat contacts. If the sensing bulb is broken, leaking, or the thermostat is more than 50 degrees out of calibration, it will need to be replaced.  Since the oven sensor works electrically, you can measure the sensor’s resistance using a multimeter. When testing the sensor at room temperature, the meter should display approximately 1,100 Ohms of resistance. If the resistance is significantly off, the component should be replaced with a new one.
  • Malfunctioning oven control board – If the sensor shows accurate resistance when tested, and you’ve ruled out the failure of other oven components, then it’s possible the oven control board is malfunctioning. While the board cannot be easily tested, you can always inspect it for signs of burning or a shorted-out component.

Find the right electric oven parts with Repair Clinic

Repair Clinic stocks all the appliance replacement parts that can keep your electric oven baking and broiling as expected, including heating elements, thermal fuses, oven sensors, terminal blocks, and oven control boards. Type the full model number of your range or wall oven 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 refine the results to locate the exact part you need. While Repair Clinic carries parts that fit ovens from all the top brands, including Amana, Bosch, GE, Thermador, Electrolux, LG, Kenmore, Samsung, and Wolf, you’ll want to make sure you’re selecting a component that is a direct match for your specific range or oven model.

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