How to Troubleshoot Common Oven Issues

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Many people use their ovens on a daily basis, at least the burners on top if not the interior. Others only make use of their ovens once in a great while. Whether you fall into the first group or the second, nothing is more frustrating than if you are ready to cook, bake or boil and the oven doesn't work. The good news is that you can troubleshoot some common oven problems by yourself. This will come in handy, particularly if it's late at night and you really need to bake that frozen pizza.

How to Troubleshoot Common Oven Issues
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The Oven Door Won't Close

Cooking with the oven door ajar is not a wise idea. If you have a high tech oven and the sensor tells you the door isn't fully closed, it could be a problem with the sensor rather than the door itself. Reboot the oven control board, just as you would a computer that's not working correctly, and see if that fixes the issue.

If the sensor is working, or if you don't have a sensor, the problem is likely caused by one of the door's hinges. Check them to see if they look bent or damaged. If this is the case, you'll need to buy a new hinge for your particular model and replace it.

The Oven Won't Heat Up

If you have a gas oven that is failing to heat up, it may be due to the igniter not working. You can test whether the igniter is the problem by turning on a burner. If the usual click sound then stops without being followed by a "whoosh" of blue gas, then you likely need to replace the igniter. If you're fairly handy, you may be able to do this on your own, but many people will need a repair person for this fix, especially since it can be dangerous to work with gas.

For an electric oven, you can do a visual check. Turn it on and if it fails to heat up, watch the heating coils on the bottom. Are they partially red or completely dead? You can also replace these coils (or coil) on your own once you secure the correct part, or you may feel more comfortable hiring someone for this fix.

If you decide to do either of these fixes on your own, always be sure to disconnect the oven from power before getting started. Repairs will vary depending on the age and model of the oven. Some are simpler to fix than others.

Not Heating to the Correct Temperature

Is that chicken coming out undercooked after a long time inside the oven? Are your cakes gooey in the middle when the buzzer sounds to remind you they are done? Then you most likely have an oven that is not heating to the correct temperature.

This could signal a problem with the temperature sensor. Either the sensor is faulty or it's touching the wall of the oven, giving it an inaccurate read of the interior's temperature. To fix this, check and see if the sensor is touching the wall of the oven's interior. If it is not, there is a tool called an ohmeter that you can use to test the sensor. Or, you can simply replace it without testing and hope for the best. Check on pricing of the sensor to see if this is a good idea. If the sensor is expensive, it's worth getting it professionally checked if you don't have an ohmeter to do it yourself. If neither of those fixes work, your sensor may need to be calibrated.


Heather Skyler is a journalist and novelist who has written for wide variety of publications, including, The New York Times and SKY magazine.

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