Is Baking Taking Longer? Check Your Electric Oven's Heating Element

Posted on: 12 December 2014


Have you recently notice that baking takes much longer than it used to? While there are several reasons why it may suddenly take an electric oven much more time to cook things, one of the most common--and easiest to fix--is a broken heating element. Here is how to check your oven's heating element and replace it if it is broken.

The Heating Element

Most electric ovens have two heating elements: an upper one and a lower one. These are wires that are responsible for heating up your oven. As electricity runs through them, they become hot and that heat is conducted into the air in your oven.

Since they are part of an electrical circuit, cracked elements cause a break in the circuit and do not conduct electricity. Without electricity running through them, they do not heat up. Each element is on its own circuit, though, so a break in one element does not affect the other.

Therefore, if one of your elements is broken, the other one will still provide some heat for your oven. It likely will not be able to get your oven up to 450°F, but it might be able to reach 200°F. You may find your food cooks, but it takes a very long time.

Identifying a Broken Element

It is very easy to identify a broken heating element. First, turn your oven on to a specific temperature, such as 350°F and put an oven thermometer in the middle of it. After 20 minutes, check the thermometer. According to The Kitchn, anywhere from 330°F to 370°F is an acceptable temperature, even though it is set at 350°F. If it is outside of this range, check the heating elements.

Before checking for a broken element, turn your oven off and let it cool completely. There is no need to burn yourself.

Once your oven is cool, simply open it and move each element slightly. Do not use too much force--you do not want to break the element while inspecting it. Each element should stay relatively in place. A broken one will move significantly, and you will be able to see where the break is.

Purchasing a New Heating Element

Prices for new heating elements vary from brand to brand, but they are much less expensive than a new stove and oven. You will need an element specifically designed for your model, so you will need to find your oven's model number. It is usually located on the back of the oven or in the drawer under the oven. If it is not in the drawer, you may need to pull the oven out from the wall to find it.

With your oven model number in hand, search for an original element to replace it. It may be tempting to buy an aftermarket element, but these are not built to the same standards as the ones made by manufacturers. Make sure you end up with a high-quality replacement by purchasing a brand-name element.

Replacing the Heating Element

To take out your old element and insert a new one, you will have to remove a few screw on the inside of the electric oven. These screws hold two plates in place, which cover up where the element plugs into its circuit. Unscrew the screws and remove the two plates. Then, the old element should pull out, similar to how any electrical plug comes out of an outlet.

Installing the new one just requires reversing these steps. Insert it where the old one was, and then replace the plates and screws. You should be all set to bake once again.

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