How to Know When a Heating Element Has Failed

Updated February 21, 2017

An electric oven employs a special part called a heating element to perform the task of heating. Most electric ovens contain two elements, one of which is the grill heating element (on the top of the inside) and the other is the baking heating element (on the bottom). If your electric oven isn't heating properly or at all when you turn it on, you need to carry out some troubleshooting operations to figure out what the problem is. If something isn't wrong with your oven itself, you will be able to find out if a heating element failed.

Ensure that the oven is plugged securely into a wall outlet. Check the fuse or breaker at the fuse box or breaker box somewhere inside the home. To be sure, determine which fuse controls the oven's electrical circuit, and pull it out and inspect it to be sure the thin metal strip inside has not broken; or flip the breaker off and then back on. Check the oven to see if these measures have solved the issue. If not, continue to Step 2.

Open the oven door and remove the rack(s) from the inside. This will provide you with the necessary space to be able to see the heating element(s) in their entirety.

Turn on the oven light or shine a flashlight on the baking or broiling heating element (whichever one you're having problems with). If neither of the heating elements works, barring a coincidence there is a problem with the oven itself that will require the help of an appliance repairman to fix.

Ensure that the heating element is connected securely in the back of the oven and has no burnt wires (burnt wires would denote a shorted-out wire), then inspect the heating element for the telltale signs of failure. If the element has the appearance of pitting, charring, cracking, bubbling or widespread discolouration, it is highly likely that the element has failed and needs replacement.

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About the Author

Daniel Hatter began writing professionally in 2008. His writing focuses on topics in computers, Web design, software development and technology. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in media and game development and information technology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.