Easy Fixes for Oven Issues

June 30, 2015

A clean and well functioning oven will make you a better chef with better tasting food. Many oven issues can be fixed using household products and a little elbow grease.

Easy Fixes for Oven Issues

My oven cooks unevenly

Clean the oven and elements

A dirty oven will distribute heat less evenly, so begin by giving it a thorough clean. However, don't use oven cleaning products on the heating elements, fan or gas pilot light.

  • Clean the heating elements of an electric oven by running it at its highest temperature with the door open for 30 minutes. This will burn off any grease stuck to their surfaces. The process will generate a lot of smoke, so switch off nearby smoke alarms and ensure the kitchen is well ventilated. Don't leave the oven unattended with its door open, and be careful not to trip over the open door. Keep all children and pets away from the kitchen until the oven has cooled.
  • Remove any cooking stones, foil or other cooking aids that may be blocking the flow of air through the oven or touching the thermostat sensor (which looks like a long tube inside the oven).
  • If you have a self-cleaning oven, run a cleaning cycle once a month.

Tool of the trade

Oven thermometer

When you set your oven to 200°C (400°F), it's unlikely that it heats up evenly to this temperature. Most ovens have hot and cool spots and getting to know where they are will make you a better chef.

Use an inexpensive oven thermometer (available at kitchen supply stores) to compare the actual temperature of different parts of the oven with that set on the dial. Draw a simple map of the oven for future reference.

The oven’s control dials are melting

Check and replace the door seal

An oven's control dials are usually located just above the oven door and so may get warm in normal use — especially if you have an older model. If they become hot to the touch or even start melting, it's probably a sign that heat is leaking out of the oven because its rubber seals have worn out.

  • Allow the oven to cool and switch it off at the main power source. Open the door and inspect the silicone rubber door seal; if it's intact but hanging away from the metal, try pressing it back into position. If it has become brittle and parts have fallen away, it's easy to install a replacement.
  • Depending on your oven, the rubber seal may be pressed into a groove, or retained behind metal clamps. Pull away the seal or loosen the screws to remove it. Pry away any stubborn pieces of rubber with a plastic scraper, then wash the area behind the old seal with strong detergent. Rinse and allow to dry.
  • Buy a new seal — make sure it is compatible with the make and model of your oven — and press it into position, ensuring that it is free from kinks.

The oven doesn’t heat up

Let it cool before a restart

Ovens are fitted with thermal cutoff switches that kill the power to the elements if the oven overheats. Try switching the oven off at the main power source and wait until it has cooled completely before attempting a restart. If this doesn't work, call for repair.

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