I love using ovens. They free me from the need of buying baked, grilled, and roasted foods.
Good food is what ovens are all about and I am a proud owner.
Recently though, my oven started burning everything. I got worried and wanted to fix it as soon as possible.
So I got to research and found something that I thought I should also share with my readers.
Thermostat malfunction is the most likely reason for your oven to burn everything.
Heating element (or gas flame) malfunction, control board malfunction are also some possible reasons.
It could be a few other operational faults as well which I will be discussing later. Allow me to explain the technical reasons first.
The temperature is regulated by a thermostat inside the oven. It acts as a controller of the heating element (for an electric oven) or flame ( in the case of a gas oven).
When you set your oven to the desired temperature, the thermostat ensures the heating element or gas flame burns and reaches as high as the set temperature in the control board.
It will cycle the heating elements on and off to maintain the cooking temperature. In the case of gas ovens, it will restrict the gas supply and lower the flame.
If the thermostat malfunctions, the control board will misinterpret the temperature and will overcompensate.
As the temperature becomes unregulated, it soars past your set temperature. Not only does this burn your food, but it can also damage your oven and may cause a fire.
A faulty thermostat may prematurely regulate the heat, so the desired temperature inside will not be reached according to the set temperature on the control board.
You can use an infrared thermometer to confirm if the set temperature inside has reached the set temperature of the knob.
In the case of electric ovens, a light on the outer body will stop glowing brightly and will be dimmed indicating the desired temperature is reached.
Place your infrared thermometer inside at this point to confirm.
For a gas oven, wait for the flame to reduce and once they do, place your thermometer inside and check.
If your heating element or gas flame malfunctions, it will remain on for a long time or increase in intensity even when it should be cycled off.
As it is no longer listening to the thermostat, the heating element or gas flame will overheat your oven causing your food to burn.
The oven control board has two relays- bake and broil.
If any one of the relay parts gets stuck, they will cause the heating element to stay on or the flame knob to continue gas flames even when it should be switched off.
There could be a minor reason for your food to burn.
It could be an operational fault and if you fix it up, your food will no longer burn inside the oven
Make sure you choose the right temperature.
If you are using a conventional setting or broiler setting and cooking a recipe that needs low temperature, your food will burn.
In the same manner, make sure the time duration is correct.
Cooking food for a long duration when all your recipe needs is a short temperature exposure, can burn your food.
Leftover food particles can block the vents inside your oven. Choked vents can cause the oven to overheat and burn your food.
At times it is the leftover food particles that are releasing carbon and causing the burning smell while your oven is perfectly fine.
Useful Additional Tip
Not all ovens will have the same parts.
You can enter your model number on the particular brand website to see the details regarding the breakdown of parts- their signs and ways to deal with them.
Some brands mention it inside the manufacturing booklet.
Also read: Using Oven to Heat House is Bad Idea
I would advise you to see first if the fault is operational.
If the fault is due to incorrect temperature and timer settings on your part, you can quickly fix this without burning a hole in your pocket.
- Clean the knob or the panel buttons. Grease and gunk may cause you to press the wrong buttons or the knob to misalign. If you have a removable knob, soak it in lukewarm soapy water and wash.
- If the food always burns on the topmost or bottom rack, try placing your food in the center rack. If your oven does not have a lot of racks, just remove the rack and place it further away from the top or bottom rack.
- Clean the vents and grates once the oven cools down. Check for leftover and stuck food particles and make sure to scrape them off.
- Try the smell technique. If there is no actual burn but just a burning smell or burnt flavor, leftover food gunk is the reason. Run the oven through a self-cleaning cycle. You can also manually clean the oven with a baking soda solution or a chemical cleaner.
If it is a technical fault, you need to find out the exact cause and fix it accordingly.
To understand what exactly is wrong, try the bread test method first.
Make a dough of bread and spread it out so it is flat and takes up a lot of space on the rack.
Once the bread is done, check.
- If only the top part of your bread is burnt, the problem is with the top heating element.
- If only the bottom is burnt, the fault is in the lower heating element.
- If the bread is raw in the middle and burnt around the edges then it is a thermostat issue and your oven has hot spots.
If the temperature inside is higher or lower than the set temperature on the control panel, your oven needs to recalibrate.
You can find this out easily. A standard way that most brands recommend is to set your temperature at 350 degrees.
Place a thermometer in the center rack and close the oven door.
Wait for 10 minutes. In case your reading is 15 degrees above or below 350 degrees, you will have to calibrate your oven.
Contact your customer care and follow the instructions to recalibrate your oven.
For a faulty thermostat, heating element, or stuck parts in the control board, call a professional. You should not do it by yourself.
All brands discourage customers from fixing technical errors like replacing the thermostat, heating elements, and fixing the stuck parts on the control board.
At times the control board or certain switches of the relay parts like the selector switch will need to be replaced.
Unless you are a professional appliance technician, do not attempt to fix the electronic parts of your electric/ gas oven.
Not all oven brands have the same parts.
To find out about calibrating your particular model, you will need to visit the manufacturer’s website or read the instructions booklet for a step-by-step guide to calibrate your model.
For example, for calibrating an electric oven with analog controls, whirlpool instructs you to manually remove the temperature knob.
Once removed, turn the screw inside the knob clockwise if the temperature is lower than the set temperature.
In case the temperature is higher, you need to turn anticlockwise. Do this slowly one turn at a time.
Restart your oven and ensure it has reached the right calibration. If not, repeat.
They have different instructions to increase or decrease the temperature in their electric oven with digital controls and gas ovens. It is best to read the instruction manual of your particular model to calibrate your oven.
If you do not have a thermometer around, do not worry. Try this home sugar technique to test your oven temperature.
Take an aluminum sheet and make two bowl or cup shapes. Place one spoon of sugar inside it. You can also put sugar in an oven-safe bowl.
Preheat your oven to 180°C (356° F). Once the temperature is reached, place the first bowl of sugar for 15 minutes.
When done, remove the sugar bowl and reset your oven to 190° C (374° F). Once the temperature is reached, place your second bowl of sugar inside for 15 minutes.
If your oven is calibrated right, the first sample of sugar should be granulated and white. The second sample will turn brown and melt.
If both the samples are melted and brown, your oven is reaching a higher temperature than the setting.
If both are white, your oven is running at a lower temperature and not reaching the set temperature.
I have explained in detail the various reasons why your oven could be burning everything.
The fault could be operational or technical. In case of operational faults, having a good knowledge of control board temperature and timer setting and using it rightly will fix up your oven quickly.
In case of technical glitches, you need to ascertain what’s wrong and reach out to your particular manufacturer for specialized service.
They will fix or replace according to your oven requirement.
I hope you have got all the information you need to fix up your oven and make it run smoothly just like new. Let me know what caused your oven to burn food and how did you fix it.
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