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Signs & Symptoms of a Bad Thermostat in a Kitchen Stove

Updated February 21, 2017

The thermostat on a kitchen stove controls the temperature setting of the oven. Once the temperature setting doesn't reach the desired setting, there's a problem with the thermostat. The thermostat opens and closes by sensing the oven's temperature. A light on the control panel of the kitchen stove remains lit until the desired temperature is reached. The thermostat maintains that temperature setting by cycling heat on and off.

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Thermostat Continually Operates

A good sign that the thermostat is bad on a kitchen stove is when the heat sensing light continually goes on and off. The thermostat is turning the heat on and off before the desired temperature is reached. The sensing light will come on or remain on for long periods of time. Check to see if anyone is opening and closing the oven or if the oven door isn't shut completely. Either of these actions will cause the thermostat continually operate by keeping the heat cycle on. If neither of these actions is causing the problem, then the thermostat needs replacing.

Burnt Contents

Placing an item in the stove for a desired amount of time cooks the contents. If the contents are being burnt well before the allotted time, the thermostat has a problem. The thermostat is keeping the heat cycle on and the oven is reaching a higher temperature than the setting on the controls. Instead of the contents being cooked, the temperature in the oven is above the setting, causing the contents to burn quickly. The outside of the contents can burn, but the inside remains uncooked. The thermostat is not cycling the heat on and off.

Uncooked Contents

Once the oven control is turned to the desire temperature and contents are placed inside the oven, the contents cooks at a certain pace. Food not being cooked can be a symptom of a bad thermostat. The sensing light will remain on because the oven temperature is not being reached. Place a thermometer inside the oven to check the inside oven temperature. The thermometer is a device that measures the temperature. If the thermometer isn't rising gradually or no increase in oven temperature is occurring when the control is turned, there's a problem with the thermostat.


The oven thermostat can be off its settings and need to be calibrated. A calibration is a process where the oven thermostat temperature reaches the desired setting. When the calibration is off, the oven will heat, but the inside temperature can be higher or lower than the setting. Place a thermometer inside the oven and set the controls on 176 degrees Cor approximately 30 to 40 minutes. The thermometer should read 176 degrees C once checked. If the thermometer reads -12.2 degrees C above or below the setting, the thermostat needs calibrating. Some kitchen stoves have self-calibration capabilities. If you don't know how to properly calibrate a oven thermostat, call an appliance technician.

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About the Author

Mitchell Brock has been writing since 1980. His work includes media relations and copywriting technical manuals for Johnson & Johnson, HSBC, FOX and Phillip Morris. Brock graduated from the University of Southern California in 1980, earning a Bachelor of Arts in English.

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