An oven heating element is an essential, simple part that is easy to replace in most electric ovens and ranges. These are the parts responsible for creating the heat necessary for baking and broiling—they do their job simply by heating up as electric current passes through them. When they stop heating, the solution is usually to replace the heating element.
Ovens typically have two elements: one at the top for broiling, and one at the bottom for baking. The baking element usually has metal feet and simply rests on the oven floor. It connects to the back wall of the oven with a plate or bracket held by a couple of screws. Behind the plate, two metal prongs connect to two wires inside the oven. The wires typically have female spade connectors that slide onto the element's prongs.
You can buy a replacement oven element through the oven manufacturer or through online appliance parts retailers. All you need is the appliance's model number, which should be printed on a metal plate that's located in one of several places:
- On the oven door jamb, at the top, sides, or bottom, when the door is open
- On the frame below the door, when the bottom drawer is pulled out
- Under a burner on an electric cooktop, if the burners are removable
- Under the cooktop cover, if it can be lifted up
- On, or in, the vent duct, on models with down-draft venting
Electric ovens and ranges use 240 volts and up to 50 amps of electricity and can deliver a deadly shock if you touch the element wiring while the power is on. Make sure to unplug the appliance from the wall outlet before working on the element. If the appliance is hard-wired (no plug-in cord), you must turn off the oven's circuit breaker and make sure to test the wiring voltage before touching any wires.
Tools and Materials You Will Need
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Disconnect the Electrical Supply
Make sure all of the oven or range controls are OFF. Unplug the appliance at the wall outlet. On freestanding ranges, the cord is usually accessible if you remove the bottom drawer completely and reach through the drawer cavity from the front.
On hardwired ranges and ovens (or if you can't reach the cord), turn off the appliance's circuit breaker in your home's circuit breaker box. It will be a double-pole breaker, typically labeled for 30, 40 or 50 amps. You must test the wires (step 3) to confirm the power is off before touching them.
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Remove the Heating Element Mounting Plate
The first step is to locate the baking heating element and the bracket that holds it in place at the bottom rear of the oven.
- Open the oven door and remove all of the oven racks. Locate the mounting plate or bracket at the rear of the faulty bake element.
- Remove the screws securing the plate to the oven wall, using a screwdriver nut driver.
- Some elements connect to the oven in two places. In this case, each end of the element will have its own mounting plate and each end will connect to a wire inside the oven.
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Test for Electrical Current
Before proceeding with the replacement of the heating element, it's crucial to make sure the power is disconnected:
- Gently pull the heating element and mounting bracket away from the back wall of the oven. Slide the element toward you just a couple of inches, so you can see the wires connected to the element. The wires may be surrounded by insulation, which may pull out a bit—don't worry, this is normal.
- Confirm that the circuit power is off by touching the probe of a non-contact voltage tester to each of the wire ends. There should be no voltage present. If the tester detects any voltage, you have not shut off the correct breaker. Return to the electrical service panel to turn off the correct breaker, then test the oven wires again.
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Disconnect the Heating Element
The actual replacement of the heating element begins with disconnecting and removing the old heating element:
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- Carefully disconnect each space wire connector from the heating element. You may be able to pull them off with your fingers, or you can use needle-nose pliers. Pull only on the metal connector; never pull on the wire itself, or you risk damaging it or separating it from its connector.
- Make sure each wire cannot slip back into the oven housing before releasing your hold on it. If necessary, temporarily tape the wires to the oven wall with electrical tape or masking tape.
- Remove the old heating element from the oven.
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Install the New Heating Element
Attaching the new element is a simple matter of reversing the disconnection process that was used to remove the faulty element:
- Install the new oven element by sliding each wire connector onto one of the element probes. Use pliers, if necessary, to force the wire connectors onto the probes and make sure they are fully inserted into the connectors.
- Slide the element into place so the mounting bracket is against the oven wall and the screw holes are aligned.
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Reattach the Mounting Plate and Test the Oven
Your replacement job is done as soon as you reattach the new element's mounting plate:
- Secure the element's mounting plate to the back wall of the over with the mounting screws. Make sure the screws are firmly anchored.
- Plug the oven into the wall outlet or turn on the circuit breaker to restore power to the oven.
- Put the bottom drawer back into place (if you removed it) and return the oven racks back to the oven.
- Turn on the oven to BAKE to check the new element for proper operation. It should glow with a consistent bright-orange color while heating.