Guide to common oven repairs

Key tips to remember

  • Oven repairs are typically easy to fix yourself, thanks to parts designed for easy assembly.
  • An electric oven that won’t heat up is usually due to a faulty heating element.
  • When a gas oven keeps clicking, you probably need to clean or replace the igniter.
  • If food is taking too long to cook, check the temperature sensor.

You use your oven and stove all the time. Whether baking a frozen pizza or simmering your homemade marinara sauce, you depend on them to come through for your dining needs day in and day out. That’s why it feels like your world is crumbling when your trusted kitchen appliance stops working properly — especially if there’s a batch of holiday cookies at stake.

Luckily, the components in gas and electric ovens are designed for simple and quick assembly, which means range repairs are typically easy to troubleshoot and do yourself. So don’t panic; you probably won’t need to go oven shopping just yet.

Here, we’ll take a look at the most common problems that occur with the oven and stove and give you some tips on how to fix them. After you read through this handy guide to oven repair, you’ll be back to baking and simmering in a flash.

The oven is not heating up.

If an oven won’t turn on or heat up, it’s clearly a big problem. But there is usually a simple explanation as to why this might be happening.

Caution: Before touching or handling the components on any oven, make sure it’s unplugged, or turn off the power at the circuit breaker. For gas ranges, close the gas supply valve to shut off the gas.

An electric oven that is not heating most likely has a problem with its heating elements. Heating elements for ovens, also called the oven coils, are the curved rods that create the heat necessary for baking.

Ovens typically have two heating elements: One located at the top for broiling, and one at the bottom for baking. An oven heating element glows red when the oven is on, so if you see that one is not glowing, that means it is not creating heat and needs to be replaced.

Fix: The good news is you don’t need to be an electrician to handle oven coil replacement. The heating element plugs into the back of the oven and is usually held in place with a couple of screws. You can order a new heating element online or through an appliance parts retailer and swap it out yourself using a screwdriver.

If you have a gas oven that isn’t heating, or if your gas stove won’t light, the likely culprit is the gas oven igniter. You can test this by turning on one of the gas burners on the stovetop. You should hear a few faint clicks followed by a “whoosh” sound as the gas ignites and the flames appear in the burner. A gas stove not clicking or lighting is often due to a dirty or faulty igniter.

Fix: Consult your manual to determine the location of the igniter, which often resembles a one- to two-inch metal module covered with a metal cage. The igniter may be visible in the oven, or you may have to remove the bottom oven panel to access it.

You can try cleaning the igniter first by using a toothbrush to remove gunk and debris from the igniter, and then unclog the pilot light hole with a sewing needle. If this doesn’t fix the problem, then the igniter should be replaced. This process varies by oven model but usually only requires removing a few screws and disconnecting a quick-release wiring connection, then connecting the new igniter and tightening everything back down. But if you are not comfortable doing this, call a trained oven repairman to swap out the part.

The oven is not heating to the correct temperature.

If the oven appears to be heating, but you notice that food is taking longer than usual to cook or is coming out undercooked, your oven is probably not reaching the desired temperature.

Both gas and electric ovens have a temperature sensor, which is a thin tube a few inches long, located at the upper back of the oven. The temperature sensor measures heat and ensures that your oven does not overheat. An oven not heating correctly can be caused by a faulty temperature sensor or one that has been accidentally bumped during cooking or cleaning.

Fix: Check to make sure the temperature sensor is not touching the wall of the oven. If this is the case, gently bend the sensor away from the wall so that it is not making contact. If the sensor is not touching the wall or repositioning it does not solve the problem, then the temperature sensor likely needs to be replaced.

As with a heating element or gas igniter, replacing the temperature sensor is a quick and easy fix you can do yourself by unscrewing the old sensor and swapping it with a new one.

The burners won’t turn on.

While the burners on gas and electric stoves heat up in completely different ways, simple issues can cause both to malfunction.

Electric stove burners receive power through two “legs” that connect into a burner receptacle, also known as the block. The burner switch contains a heat-sensitive contact that cycles power by connecting to one of these legs and then the other, which is how it regulates temperature. When one of the burners stops working, you can usually trace the problem to the burner, the block or the switch.

Fix: When an oven burner won’t get hot, the first thing to check is the burner itself. To disconnect a burner, pull it out of the block just like you would pull a power cord out of a receptacle. Then, plug a working burner into the block. If it can receive power, then you know it’s time for an oven burner replacement.

The problem may be the block the burner is plugged into. If you lift the cooktop and inspect the block, you may see charred wires or blackened metal. You can also test a block by plugging a working burner into it. If a block has gone bad, you can easily disconnect its terminal wires with a screwdriver and swap in a replacement.

The heat-sensitive contact inside a stove switch can also wear out or get covered with carbon deposits. When this happens, the switch can’t make contact or, conversely, it may never disconnect. This is why you can have an electric stove burner that gets too hot or won’t seem to ever turn off at all. Testing with an ohmmeter can confirm if a switch needs to be replaced.

For gas stoves, the most common problem is clogged burners, which happens when food spilled over the burner blocks the gas ports and prevents ignition. If your stove igniters keep clicking but produce no flame, your burner might be clogged.

Fix: The great thing about most gas burners is that they are quick and easy to disassemble and clean. Start by removing the outside metal grates and the flat burner cap, and then remove the actual burner, which is usually circular in shape.

On most popular gas stove models, the burner will twist out, without any screws to loosen. Soak the burner in a solution of mild household detergent and water, and then clean it with a soft cloth. Note: Do not use a toothpick or matchstick to clean the gas ports because the tip of the wood could get stuck in the burner ports and cause a serious blockage.

After the burner is completely dry, simply drop it back in, and replace the cap and burner grate. You should get a “whoosh” of flame when you fire up the burner.

The oven light is not working.

While you can cook just fine without an oven light, it’s a helpful convenience because it allows you to check on your food without opening the oven door and letting out all the heat, which disturbs the cooking process.

Fix: Most of the time, all you need to do is replace the lightbulb to solve this problem. However, if you replace the bulb and the oven light still doesn’t work, then that means your oven might have a faulty light switch or connecting wires. In this case, it’s best to bring in an oven repairman for assistance.

The oven door won’t shut.

You obviously need a functioning oven door. This comes up more often than you might think, but it’s usually a simple fix.

Fix: First, look for food crumbs or debris that could have become lodged in the lining or door springs. Next, make sure the “lock” feature on the self-clean mode is not engaged, which will prevent the door from closing. After those steps, take a look at the door hinges to see if they’re moving properly. Rusted or grimy hinges can be cleaned or replaced; loosening and retightening hinges will often correct issues with oven door alignment.

“My oven won’t turn on” is a scary phrase that most of us dread hearing, but problems with a broken oven can often be solved by swapping out simple parts. Cinch Home Services is dedicated to making your home life easier. If troubleshooting an oven repair is not something you’re game for, consider investing in a Cinch home protection plan for peace of mind all year long.

The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.

Related stories