How to Start an Electric Oven

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It is easy to use an electric oven.
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Getting started with a brand-new oven requires familiarizing yourself with the owner's manual to fully understand the oven function symbols, oven uses and safety considerations. You'll also need to run the oven without any food inside it to get rid of the factory smell.

Oven Start First Steps

The oven display should light up as soon as the oven is plugged into a wall outlet, and the first thing you should do is set the oven clock. The exact procedure may differ from brand to brand, but typically you begin by press the clock button or symbol. Next, use the arrow keys or keypad to select the appropriate time, and then press the clock button, the start button or no button at all. Consult your owner's manual for precise instructions.

Learn the Oven Function Symbols

Some ovens have buttons with words on them, whereas others — like Neff — rely on symbols to help you select the right function. Common oven function symbols include a clover-leaf-like symbol representing the oven fan, lines or waves toward the top or bottom of a square representing the upper or lower heating elements and a light bulb representing the oven light.

The best way to learn the oven function symbols for your particular oven is to consult the owner's manual. You may not be able to enjoy the full functionality of your oven if you don't learn all of the common function symbols. If you do not have the owner's manual, a copy can typically be found online by searching for the oven name and/or serial number.

Learn the Start Sequence

An electric oven's start sequence may vary from brand to brand and even from model to model. Instead of turning a knob to start the oven or using an oven pilot light, you'll need to learn which buttons to push and in which order.

A typical start sequence for baking begins by pressing the "Bake" button. Use either the up and down arrows or the number keypad to enter the desired oven temperature. Then press the "Start" button. If you press "Bake" but fail to press "Start" within 15 seconds, some electric ovens will display "PUSH" or "PSH" to remind you to push the "Start" button. After 60 seconds of failing to push the "Start" button, the function will cancel.

Electric oven models without a "Start" button will begin preheating as soon as the up or down arrows are released. To broil, make sure the oven rack is in an appropriate position (often closer to the top heating element than baking) before the oven is turned on. Then, follow the same sequence that you follow for baking, except this time press the "Broil" button to automatically set the oven to the factory preset broil temperature. Press "Start" if your oven features this button, and don't forget to leave the oven door cracked for proper ventilation during the broiling process.

"Burn-In" a Brand-New Electric Oven

Ovens fresh off the production line have a "new oven" smell due to residual oils from the manufacturing process. To get rid of this smell and to avoid affecting your food, perform a "burn-in."

First, examine the inside of the oven to make sure zip ties were not used to hold the oven racks in place during transit, as these will melt and release additional odors if not removed before the oven is turned on.

Next, preheat the oven to at least 400 degrees Fahrenheit and let it remain at this temperature for at least 40 minutes. Turn the oven off (which can typically be accomplished by hitting the "Cancel" button) and let it cool completely. Then use soap and water to wipe out the inside. If the smell persists, repeat the entire process. When the smell is gone, you can cook food inside the oven.

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Cathy Habas enjoys distilling even the most complicated home improvement tasks into bite-sized pieces. She believes in empowering homeowners one article at a time.

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