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6 Reasons Why Your Gas or Electric Oven Isn't Heating

Updated on August 9, 2016
When an electric oven won't heat up, it's usually a faulty heating element. For a gas oven, it may be the bake ignitor.
When an electric oven won't heat up, it's usually a faulty heating element. For a gas oven, it may be the bake ignitor.

When it comes to cooking a meal, your oven is the heart of the operation. In this article, I am going to show you what to check if your oven won't heat up. We will discuss both electric and gas ovens.

Anytime that you are working with electrical wires, make sure you use proper procedure. Always consider your safety before attempting a repair on an appliance. Before you begin a project, make sure you are qualified to do so. When working with gas-powered appliances, always shut the gas off before attempting a repair.

How to Tell Your Oven Is Heating Completely

To determine if your oven is cooking at the correct temperature, all you have to do is get a basic temperature gauge that can withstand the oven temperature. Place it in the oven and set the oven to 350. Give it time to heat up and check if your oven is at the correct temperature or if it needs to be adjusted.

Finding Out Why Your Oven Isn't Heating Up

Six things to check:
1. The electric heating elements (baking and broiling).
2. The electric temperature sensor or bulb.
3. The gas ignitor at the back of the oven compartment.
4. Thermostat or selector switch.
5. Calibration dial.
6. The relays.

You'll Need

  • The owner's manual for the oven.
  • A multimeter. This will allow you to conduct a few simple tests. A multimeter reads both the amount of voltage or ohms that is traveling through wires.

Electric Ovens

All electric ovens have two elements. Pictured above is an element for baking.
All electric ovens have two elements. Pictured above is an element for baking.
The second element is below the oven in the broiling compartment.
The second element is below the oven in the broiling compartment.

1. One of the Heating Elements Is Defective

When an oven won't heat, the most likely problem is a defective heating element. An electric oven has two elements, one on the top for baking and one on the bottom for broiling. It's easy to tell when an element is burning out or not working: A functioning element glows bright red.

Here's what to do if your oven is warm, but not the correct temperature:

  1. Check the heating element you want to use. Sometimes when an oven is set at "prebake," both heating elements turn on. It's possible that one element is working and the other is not.
  2. If one element isn't working, you will need to replace it.
  3. If you install a new element and the oven still doesn't work, you may have an electrical issue. This is where your voltage meter will come in play. You will need to test the wires that lead to the heating element hook-up to the heating element. There could be a bad wire or loose connection that is causing your element to not work. See the illustration below for details about where to aim the voltage meter.

Use a voltage meter to test the terminal wires pictured above to determine if the element is getting power.
Use a voltage meter to test the terminal wires pictured above to determine if the element is getting power.

2. The Oven Temperature Sensor or Bulb Is Out

Many electrical ovens have a temperature sensor that monitors the oven temperature constantly. If the sensor becomes defective, the oven may not heat correctly. Most sensors have a digital display on the oven. Before you replace a sensor you believe is defective, make sure to check the oven elements and wires first.

Ovens that do not have a sensor use a temperature-sensing bulb to control the temperature of the oven. Make sure this bulb is not loose or burnt out.

Gas Ovens

The ignitor is the entire unit located at the back of your gas oven. The terminals are the two wires that connect to the Oven Control.
The ignitor is the entire unit located at the back of your gas oven. The terminals are the two wires that connect to the Oven Control.

3. Your Gas Oven's Ignitor Is Out

If your gas oven isn't heating correctly (or at all), check the bake ignitor first.

  1. Safety first! Pull your oven away from the wall and shut off the gas.
  2. The ignitor will be located at the back of the oven compartment. Remove the ignitor by unbolting it from the oven floor.
  3. Use your multimeter to detect continuity of power. Take one probe and place it on one terminal, then place the other probe on the second terminal. Your multimeter should register between 0-1100 ohms. If your multimeter does not register in this range, then your ignitor has lost continuity and needs to be replaced.
  4. You could have a bad gas safety valve also, so include that in your check also.

More Troubleshooting

4. The Thermostat or Selector Switch Are Burnt Out

If your oven still isn't heating, check the thermostat and selector switch.

  • The selector switch is what changes your settings, such as oven or broiler.
  • The thermostat may be sticking or defective.

5. Your Oven Needs to Be Calibrated

If your oven is not at proper temperature, it may need to be calibrated. This can also help with ovens that run too hot.

  • The calibration dial will be located on the back of your temperature knob or down at the bottom of the small shaft. You should be able to see an adjustment screw on the dial. This screw is where you can adjust the temperature. To increase the temperature of the oven, turn the screw counterclockwise. To decrease the oven temperature, turn the screw counterclockwise. In most ovens, a half of a turn should increase/decrease the oven temperature by 25 degrees.

6. Bad Relays

Another issue that can prevent an oven from heating is bad relays. If your oven has two heating elements, you probably have two relays. They can burn out over time. Refer to your owner's manual for proper instructions, as some may require a maintenance person to fix.

Comments

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    • profile image

      Tammy Sutton 12 days ago

      I have a GE gas electric oven all of sudden my oven isn't working my burners work what could this be

    • profile image

      Noel 2 weeks ago

      I have a Samsung convection oven it was working great then it stopped heating. We replaced the ignitor and it still won't heat up. If you turn it on the temp just blinks. You can heat a click and thats it. Please help

    • profile image

      Bonnie 3 weeks ago

      I turn my oven on it gets to temperature then oven shuts off on its own

    • profile image

      Jean Jelley 7 weeks ago

      Is it possible for the oven to reach the correct temperature but not too cook the food properly in the prescribed time?

      The ovens element and thermostat were replaced and the tests have been done to check the oven reaches the correct temperatures but the food isn't cooking quickly enough. 30 min for 12 minute scones etc.

      Appreciate your help on this issue.

    • profile image

      prasetio 4 months ago

      Thanks for sharing useful information. It help us to use oven properly. Have a good day :-)

    • profile image

      Tom 4 months ago

      Hi

      GE gas oven (about 10 yrs old) does not turn at all, but burners work fine. temp sensor? Thanks

    • profile image

      nanikoa1 8 months ago

      i accidentally touched my baking element with a metal spatula and saw a small spark and now both the broil and bake elements do not heat my oven to full temperature. Do I need to replace both elements or temperature sensor or what?? Thanks

    • profile image

      Lory 9 months ago

      I have a jen-air oven that runs on propane. The burners on top work fine. The broiler low and high work. The oven does not work. If I hit oven preheat at 350 degrees it will show preheat at 350 for a second or two, but then it goes to 100 degrees, but does not light or heat at all. Thanks for reading.

    • profile image

      Janice 9 months ago

      Thank you for the article but here is my question:

      Maintenance just replaced the thermostat in my electric oven (Sears). He told me the red outside light would go out if the oven cooking temperature is reached, and light on again if the oven cooking temp drops. Is this true?

    • profile image

      Martha 10 months ago

      Thank you - this is a very helpful article.

    • profile image

      Letty 10 months ago

      Counterclockwise to decrease and clockwise to increase. We are all human typos happen. Richard if you ever see this please fix. Thanks great information you provided.

    • profile image

      Luc 10 months ago

      you turn it counterclockwise to increase and to deacrease the calibration? that can't be right, which one actually does which?

    • profile image

      Karen 11 months ago

      I have a new Kenmore gas stove that is only 2 months old inconsistent temps in oven . Top burners seen inconsistent also. I can set the temp for 375 wait for the preheat buzzer to say it is ready and the temp can range from 275 to 450 with it set for 375. what could be the problem?

    • profile image

      Jae Gee 11 months ago

      I have an approximately 16 year old electric GE stove (JBP66GW1WH). The bottom heating element stopped working, so I replaced it. (Top one works fine) After I plugged it back in, I turned stove on to make sure it worked, it did, so I turned it right back off. Later that evening I went to preheat oven to for dinner and it stayed cold. I unplugged stove and plugged back in, tried again, still doesn't work. Any ideas?

      -J.

    • profile image

      Kirstine Smith 13 months ago

      Evening someone please help ??

      My oven was working fine but today it hasn't seemed to work to well.

      The oven light comes on & the ovens lit but isn't hot!

    • profile image

      Kayla 2 years ago

      My gas oven only gets warm not enough to cook anything but my burners work perfectly I set it to 350 and it doesn't even go to that It feels more like it's on warm. My mom bought it for us and there wasn't an owner's Manual.

    • profile image

      Robrenko 2 years ago

      GE profile oven bought 2006. Digital display says temp is 350, but is actually closer to 285. Just replaced the sensor and did not fix the problem. What else to check?

    • profile image

      Dan13r 3 years ago

      thanks for the all the info on this page. Perhaps you can offer me some guidance. I am using a gas range bought around 2004. The controls are electronic (touch no dials for the oven). The oven is heating erratically based on the dial thermometer. sometimes we set it to 350 and it will heat at 400 and sometimes to 300 (if we are lucky to 350). I have changed the ignitor more than once on this unit (for a different problem of course) and that has done the trick for when it doesn't heat at all (or only momentarily). I checked the temp sensor with a multimeter at room temp and its reading around 1080 ohm. Any ideas?

    • profile image

      chattypatty 3 years ago

      Just want to say a big Thank You. Oven wouldn't heat. called Sears, and they said I needed a Sensor. Bought and installed it. Still no heat. Found your site, checked again, jiggled the lower element and Voila!!the oven heats up...end of my problem. You are an angel. Don't know if I really needed the sensor, but since it is installed, I'll just put the back on the stove and say "Thank you again" You made my day. Hugs.

    • profile image

      Tony 3 years ago

      Hi there,

      Oven does not turn at all, but the stove top all burners are working fine. This happened right after a self clean. I am hoping its not the control board, could it be the Temp. Sensor?

    • profile image

      Bob 3 years ago

      Our 12 year old GE gas oven's preheat indicator goes off well before getting to the proper temperature. For example: if set to 400 degrees, the 'preheat' beeper goes off at 250 degrees per a decent temp gauge I bought and put in the oven, then takes about another 10 minutes to get to 400 degrees. I know the temp gauge I bought is good because it does get to 400 and stays there after about 20 minutes; the igniter was recently replaced and turns on within 1 minute; and the oven temperature sensor was just replaced. It's the darn preheat beeper that has me stumped. Why would it go off at 250 with a setting of 400?

    • profile image

      Judy 3 years ago

      I have a Dacor electric wall oven that was installed new in Feb of '08. My question to you is: Why do the foods like cookies and breads come out of the oven raw in the center? Is there a temp gage I can use to see if my oven temp is correct? Thanks.

    • profile image

      Janis 3 years ago

      My diplomat gas oven cut out when I'm cooking it gets to hot and just goes out I have to wait until lit gets cooler then continue to cook I can't cook any meat as it won't stay on long enough can you help don't know how to fix it please help

    • profile image

      MamaRobin 4 years ago

      Hello! Have a Magic Chef gas range; late 80s model. Pilot light is fine. The problem is that it doesn't heat past 150 degrees. I have a cheesecake, probably getting a soggy crust, waiting to be baked. Also, not sure if anyone else brought this to your attention, but in your gas instructions, you say that turning the thermostat knob screw counterclockwise will both increase and decrease the temperature. Oops? That cheesecake was a lot of work - I hate to lose it!

    • profile image

      martin brennan 4 years ago

      Fan blows cold. It is a Lamona HJA 3300.

    • eurozulu profile image

      bradley brown 4 years ago from Harrow Middlesex

      Hi Richard, having problem with Stoves twin gas oven, top oven is not getting to temperature is this still possible to be bake igniter? as it does heat up just not hot enough.

    • profile image

      ROSEMARIE 4 years ago

      MY OVEN WOUNT HOLD TEMPERATUE

      OVEN IS ELECTRIC 30 TO 40 DEGRES OFF

    • profile image

      nomadder 4 years ago

      When baking do both elements get hot or just the bottom when baking? My wife swears both elements are on when baking.

    • profile image

      jack 4 years ago

      "This screw is where you can adjust the temperature at. To increase the temperature of the oven, you can turn the screw counterclockwise. To decrease the oven temperature, turn the screw counterclockwise"

      you can not do the same thing and get different results?????

    • profile image

      TKsunshine 4 years ago

      Really glad I came across you article for trouble shooting... trying to save money and reading this trouble shooting article just made my day... Already replace the baking element in the oven...it broke/burn out on 1 side of the element. Oven is trying to heat up now but just not heating correctly... Took 1 hr just to heat up to 215 degrees.. Turn the oven off and starting searching the internet for other possible causes when I came across your site...Thank GOD... Will try your other suggestions next...Hopefully it is just loose wires...

    • profile image

      cara 5 years ago

      i would like to know if what is the reason why the oven of my gas range is not working properly,..how will i know if the insulation of my gas range is affected?

    • profile image

      Lewis 5 years ago

      You mentioned testing the heating element on and electric cooker...what am I checking for,a healthy 230v supply to the terminals? If I disconnect the supply wires what ohms reading should I be expected to get? or if I'm testing the thermostat what setting on the multimeter do I need it to be on,ohms? What the typical value I need to know if it's working ok? thanks for your time,your information is very helpful just curious of the readings to know if parts you've mentioned have failed or if it's more of an indepth problem

    • Richard83 profile image
      Author

      Richard83 6 years ago from West Virginia

      Hey there Prasetio! Thank you for the nice comments. Very much appreciated. I enjoy helping so glad you liked it. Be good brother.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      My brother, you have beautiful and useful information as well. Thanks for writing this and share with us. I love cooking and I always check if something wrong happen with my gas stove. I have simple stove. You have valuable information here, very inspiring and I believe many moms love your tips above. Keep it! thumbs up for you..

      Prasetio

    • Richard83 profile image
      Author

      Richard83 6 years ago from West Virginia

      Hey there Marlin! Hope all is well. That shows you that they don't make them like they use to!

    • Marlin 55 profile image

      Marlin 55 6 years ago from USA

      Good job of conveying info. I hope that I never need to work on my oven. It is a vintage 1950's GE and my wife and I love it.

    • Richard83 profile image
      Author

      Richard83 6 years ago from West Virginia

      Hey there Denise. Thank you so much. I really enjoy offering help to others. Thanks for the comment and for stopping by.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Very good hub, Richard. You've explained the process well, along with leaving diagrams. That is a great combination. Useful info here.