What Happens When an Oven Element Burns Out?

When the cooking element in your oven burns out, you'll notice it by one of a few telltale signs. The element might fail to heat completely or only certain areas of it might work. When you notice that the element no longer is working, take steps to get the oven back to working order once again. Like a burnt-out light bulb, you cannot fix a burnt-out oven element, so you'll need to replace it.

Stainless steel kitchen appliances
credit: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
Burnt-out oven elements require replacement; you can't fix them.

Signs

An oven element that is burnt can be apparent in a few different ways. If it's fully burnt out, it will appear dark and never produce heat or its characteristic orange glow even after you leave the oven on for several minutes. If the oven element is not completely burnt out, the orange element can have several dark spots or bubbles, which will indicate that the element will soon burn out completely. Though every stove is different, the stove's broiler element can burn out while the baking element still works. If this is the case, the oven will produce heat on its baking mode, but not when the broiler is on. Occasionally, the problem may lie in the receptacle to which the burner is attached, rather than the burner itself.

Safety

Before removing the oven element, it's important to follow a few safety procedures. First, turn off the circuit breaker to the oven. Alternatively, you also can unplug the oven, though doing so might be less convenient than the circuit breaker approach. If the oven element burnt out after it was hot, allow sufficient time for it to cool before handling it.

Removal

Removing the element from the oven is a simple process that does not require the use of any tools. Look for the metal clips that hang from the oven's roof and hold the end of the element in place. Remove these clips by sliding them off the element, and then pull the element firmly directly out of the back of the oven. Some styles of oven require removal of the bracket at the rear of the oven that surrounds where the element enters. Some elements pull straight out of the receptacle, while others require you to disconnect the wiring. Note the make and model of your oven and take the old element to an oven supply store to purchase the proper replacement.

Installation

Install the new oven element by pressing its two connectors tightly into the two corresponding holes in the back of the oven. If you had to disconnect the wiring and bracket to remove the element, reconnect the wiring and replace the bracket. Hook the mounting clips around the burner element so that it sits correctly in the oven, and then flip the circuit breaker to restore power to the oven. Turn the oven on to confirm the new element works satisfactorily.