How to Know If Your Oven's Heating Element Is Broken

Your oven’s on the fritz and you’re not sure why? It might be the heating element.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to:

We’ll also help you weigh the pros and cons of:

  • Professional repair
  • DIY replacement

Let’s get your oven back in tip-top shape!

Recognizing Common Oven Problems

Often, you’ll notice certain signs that indicate a potential problem with your oven’s heating element. A faulty thermostat could be the culprit, causing inconsistent temperatures that lead to undercooked or burnt meals. You may observe that your oven takes forever to heat up, or it doesn’t reach the set temperature at all.

It’s also possible that the oven overheats and burns your food even at low settings. Listen carefully, if you hear a buzzing or humming noise, that’s another telltale sign of a faulty thermostat. And don’t forget to check the temperature gauge; if it’s not reading correctly, you’ve got a problem.

Understanding Your Oven’s Heating Elements

While you’re checking for signs of oven problems, it’s essential to understand that your oven typically has two heating elements: one for baking and another for broiling. These element types are designed to heat your oven to the specific temperatures needed for different cooking methods.

The baking element is usually located at the bottom of the oven, while the broiling element is at the top.

Understanding how these elements work can help you troubleshoot problems and maintain your oven’s energy efficiency. If either element isn’t heating up properly, it can lead to uneven cooking or increased energy usage. So, it’s key to ensure both elements are in good working condition.

Observing Unusual Cooking Results

In the event of your food not cooking evenly or taking longer than usual, it’s possible that there’s an issue with your oven’s heating element. This is often a sign of inconsistent baking.

For example, you may notice that your cakes or breads aren’t rising as they should, or cookies are baking unevenly. This can also lead to uneven browning. One side of your dish might be perfectly browned while the other side remains pale. This suggests that the heat isn’t being distributed equally within the oven.

If you’re experiencing such issues, don’t ignore them. It’s likely your oven’s heating element isn’t functioning properly. Addressing this promptly can save you from further cooking disappointments and potential repair costs.

Testing The Heating Element

You’ll need to conduct a few tests to accurately determine if your oven’s heating element is indeed faulty. First, unplug your oven or turn off the circuit breaker to avoid any electrical mishaps. This is an essential safety precaution.

Next, remove the heating element.


Now, it’s time for an element resistance check. You’ll need a multimeter for this step. Set your multimeter to the ohms setting, then connect each probe to a terminal. A properly functioning heating element should display a reading of between 20 and 40 ohms. If your reading differs significantly from this range, your heating element might be the issue.

Professional Repair Vs. DIY Replacement

Once you’ve determined your oven’s heating element is faulty, two main options lie before you: hiring a professional for repairs or undertaking a DIY replacement. A cost analysis is important here.

Professionals charge for their expertise and time, but they guarantee a job well done. DIY replacements may seem cheaper, but you’ll need to account for the cost of parts and your time.

Safety concerns are paramount. While you might feel confident replacing the element, remember you’re dealing with electricity. This isn’t a job for novices. Professionals have the right training to handle such tasks safely.

Weigh the costs and risks carefully, and choose the option that’s best for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are the Signs of a Failing Oven Thermostat?

If your oven’s thermostat calibration seems off, it’s likely failing. You’ll notice irregular temperature fluctuations and your meals may not cook properly. It’s crucial to address this issue quickly to avoid further complications.

How Often Should an Oven’s Heating Element Be Replaced for Optimal Performance?

There’s no set frequency for replacing your oven’s heating element. It depends on its efficiency and use. However, when replacement costs outweigh benefits, it’s time for a new one. Monitor performance for signs of decline.

Can a Broken Heating Element Cause a Fire in the Oven?

Yes, a broken heating element can cause a fire in your oven. It’s crucial for fire safety to keep up with element maintenance and regularly check for signs of wear or damage.

What Are Some Common Oven Brands That Frequently Experience Heating Element Issues?

When comparing the reliability of different oven brands, you’ll find some have frequent heating element issues. Brands like GE and Whirlpool often have complaints. Always explore warranty options for oven heating elements.

Are There Any Preventative Measures That Can Be Taken to Prolong the Life of an Oven’s Heating Element?

Regular element cleaning improves energy efficiency and prolongs your oven’s heating element life. Don’t use harsh chemicals. Instead, gently remove debris with a soft cloth to avoid damage. Prevention’s your best tool.


So, you’ve learned how to spot common oven issues. You also understand your oven’s heating elements and how they can affect cooking results. Additionally, you now know how to test the heating element to determine if it needs to be replaced.

But remember, knowing when to call a professional versus attempting a DIY replacement can save you time, money, and potential frustration. It’s important to keep a keen eye on your oven’s behavior and never hesitate to seek professional help when things seem out of your league.

Here’s to many more successful meals cooked to perfection!

Leave a Comment