Is there anything more annoying than getting the family together for a lovely home cooked meal, only to discover that your oven isn’t heating up at the last minute? Unfortunately, this seems to be the case more often than not. Many people won’t use their ovens for a period of time, and then find out that it’s not heating properly at an inopportune moment when it’s needed most. The upside is that if your gas or electric oven stops heating, it’s usually a quick, cheap, easy fix. To find out exactly what the problem is you will need an ohmmeter or multimeter, and be sure to unplug your unit or shut off the power to it before testing or replacing any parts.
The most common problem with an electric oven that won’t heat is a defective heating element. There are two types of heating elements in an electric oven; a bake element on the bottom, and a broil element on the top. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to tell if an element is burning out or defective. When an element is functioning properly, it glows bright red. If your element doesn’t glow red, or if the internal temperature of the oven isn’t getting high enough, you should test it using an ohmmeter on the two terminals which seat the element securely in the unit. When an oven is set to preheat, both the bake and broil elements will be triggered, and it can be very easy to get fooled when one is working and the other is not. Use an oven thermometer to compare the internal temperature to the temperature shown on the unit’s control panel, and if they don’t match up, you’ll need to deduce which element is bad, and replace it. Removing and installing an element is fairly simple. Only two screws hold them in place at the terminals where they plug into the oven. This “plug & play” design approach makes it easy for anyone to replace their heating elements. It’s extremely rare though for both the bake and broil elements to go out simultaneously, so if neither are working, you should utilize a skilled, authorized technician for your brand to inspect your unit’s temperature sensor and control board.
If you have a gas oven that’s not heating, it’s a different story. Gas ovens do not use heating elements, but igniters instead. If you no longer hear a “click” when you press the igniter button, or if you hear a click but the oven doesn’t light, then you most likely have a bad igniter. To see if an igniter is bad, remove the storage drawer from the bottom of the oven, then turn the oven on and observe the burner that’s not heating. In a minute or so, the igniter should glow red. If it doesn’t glow, turn off the power from the unit, and then test the two wires connected to the igniter for continuity using an ohmmeter or multimeter. If you don’t have continuity between the two wires, you’ll need to replace the igniter. There are some other less common causes for a gas oven not heating such as the gas valve or control board, but they’re not simple repairs, and can be dangerous due to the fire hazard caused by gas leaks. You should always use an experienced, authorized technician to diagnose and repair your oven when anything more than a new element or igniter is needed.