If you're struggling with inconsistent heating in your electric oven, it may be a sign that one of the heating elements is failing. Luckily, heating elements can be replaced, but it's best to make sure before you replace all your elements. Here are the steps to troubleshoot your heating elements to confirm that they are the problem.
Heating Element Basics
Before you can troubleshoot your oven, you need to understand exactly what a heating element actually is. If you're not familiar with the components of your oven, it's best to start here. Open the oven door. On the top and bottom of the oven are large, flat coils. These are the heating elements. They control the heat production of the oven when you set the temperature on the knob. The top heating element is used for broiling, and the lower element is the one that controls the main baking temperature in the oven. For this reason, the bottom element is known as the "bake" element.
Broil Element Testing
The upper heating element, the broiler element, is easy to test, because it heats up rapidly. Since the broiler is a high-heat element, it also becomes visibly red when it's heating up. Set the knob on your oven to the broil setting and wait about four or five minutes. Open the oven door carefully and look at the broiler element. It should be glowing red or orange as a sign that it's releasing heat. The inside of the oven should be warm, too. If the oven's cold, or the element isn't glowing at all or has intermittent spots that aren't working, it's time to replace it.
Bake Element Testing
Since the bake element in the oven is used for most every oven function except broil, it's going to see a whole lot more use. This makes it more vulnerable to wear and tear. The best way to test the lower element's function is to set your oven temperature to 400 degrees and wait about ten minutes. Then check the inside of the oven. The bake element should be glowing to indicate heat production, and the inside of the oven should be warm. If not, it's time to replace the bake element.
If the oven is heating up but it doesn't seem to be the right temperature, test it out by putting an oven thermometer inside. Preheat the oven to a series of different temperatures to see how accurate it is. The thermometer will tell you what the actual temperature is inside the oven. If it's heating up, but not matching the temperature you set the oven to, start by having the thermostat replaced, not the element. For more information on appliance service repairs, go to http://www.jmappliance.com.