The oven element in your electric range can burn out at any time. Unfortunately it always seems to happen at the most inopportune times, such as the week before Christmas or Thanksgiving.
Most elements do give warnings before burning out. They will often have a bright spot that will be noticed by the homeowner, just prior to burning out. If your element has a bright spot replace it as soon as possible. Waiting for the element to burn out is inadvisable because the oven thermostat or other electric components can be affected.
In all aspects of this job safety must come first. Use only the manufacturers original parts, not a cheaper substitute. Only attempt this repair when you have enough time, and patience, to do it properly. Remember, you will be dealing with 240 volts – that’s twice as much power as flows through your regular household circuits. Only attempt this repair with another adult present.
If you feel confident in your ability to safely replace an oven element then try the following method:
- Disconnect range from electrical power, either by unplugging or turning off breakers. Pull range away from wall so all sides can be accessed.
- Remove rear panel of range to expose the element wiring. Identify which element you suspect being burnt out.
- Carefully remove the element wiring. They are usually screwed on connections. Avoid breaking the connections or stripping the screw head with your screwdriver.
- Go to the front of the range. Locate the screws securing the element within the oven cavity. This may require a flashlight because they are usually covered in debris. Again use caution not to harm the screw heads. The screws may be very tight and will require patience to remove without harming. If the screws will not turn they will have to be drilled out using a high-speed drill. If this becomes necessary use caution not to chip the oven interior.
- Remove the oven element. If it’s broken avoid touching the pieces with your bare hands. The pieces can be very sharp. Plus, the white powdered insulation contains harmful chemicals.
- Proceed to a parts store to obtain a replacement. Make certain you have your make, model, and serial number. Manufacturers use a vast variety of elements. Each model, type, configuration, and wattage requirements will determine which element was installed in your range.
- Install the new element and secure it with the screws. If the holes in the mounting plate don’t align you will have to drill holes in the cabinet interior. Carefully drill holes in the cabinet using a high-speed drill. Use caution not to let drill slip to avoid damaging or chipping the interior liner.
- From the rear of the range reconnect the element wiring. Don’t bent the electrical connections or allow the screws to strip the threads. If the wiring is burnt the insulation must be cut back to expose undamaged wire. Cut the insulation back using a knife or wire-stripping tool.
- With the new element installed plug the range back into the electricity. Start the oven and allow to run for five minutes. Disconnect the electricity and quickly feel the wiring insulation at the element connections. They should feel slightly warm, but not hot. A hot connection indicates a poor connection, or the possible failure of other components associated with the oven. If hot, it will be necessary to remove it and redo. Once satisfied with connections replace the rear panel and reinstall into counter.
- Test the oven operation. All elements should go off and on as per normal.
- Final step is to do a test run of the oven temperature. If you have an oven thermometer allow the oven to cycle off three or four times at a regular baking temperature. The thermometer should indicate same temperature at which the oven dial is set. As a confirmation bake something such as muffins or cookies as your test substance.
As the preceding has shown, replacing a burnt element is not a difficult repair. But, it is certainly one that should only be attempted by someone who is confident around electricity. If you are uncertain about your ability around high voltage, telephone an appliance repairperson for help.
An appliance repairperson can have your element replaced, tested, and operating in less than an hour. Less time than it will take you to find the part. Also, they will have all the tools and testers required to do the job quickly and safely.