You’re finally ready to try out that tasty new recipe, but alas, your oven won’t heat up. When faced with an oven not heating up, you could type “why is my oven not heating up?” into your web browser and see what pops up. Or you could read on for some common fixes to try before calling your local oven repair specialist.
1. Is the Oven Door Unlocked?
When you’re faced with an oven not heating up, the first thing to check is whether your oven door has been left in the ‘locked’ position. Most ovens have a self-cleaning feature which, when activated, requires that your oven door be locked. If someone accidentally put it in the ‘locked’ position while open (you’d be surprised how often this happens), the locking mechanism could be preventing the oven door from closing completely, in which case hot air could escape and slow down the interior heating process.
2. Is the Circuit Breaker On?
It’s a good idea to check your circuit breaker box if your oven won’t heat up. The electrical circuit that supplies power to the oven may have tripped, which means that it has stopped all electrical activity. You can usually tell if a breaker has tripped if the switch is midway between the ‘on’ and ‘off’ positions.
There could be several reasons for a tripped circuit breaker. A common one is a short circuit, which is usually caused by faulty wiring and best repaired by a qualified electrician—unsafe wiring is a fire hazard. Another is a ground fault surge (a sudden spike in electrical current that creates an overload). Or you could have several appliances connected to the same circuit as your oven, and a circuit overload has occurred. In that case, you’d want to redistribute some of the load, a process that is best handled by an oven repair specialist.
If you know your way around a circuit breaker box, and you’ve identified that a tripped breaker is indeed the issue, you can reset it by flipping the breaker labeled ‘oven’ first to ‘off’ and then back to ‘on.’ Keep in mind that working with a home’s electrical service panel can be a dangerous venture, so feel free to call a professional electrician to do the job for you. You may also want to enlist an oven repair pro if you live in an older home where the circuit breakers aren’t individually labeled.
3. Is the Heating Element Defective?
While there are many causes for an electric oven not working properly, one of the most common is a faulty heating element. The heating element is the thin curved rod along the bottom of the oven (and along the top, too, if your oven has a broiler). When they’re functioning correctly, they glow red.
To see if yours is performing accurately, try this simple test: Turn your oven to 400 degrees F. If your heating element doesn’t start to glow and your oven isn’t getting hotter, your heating element(s) should be evaluated by your local oven repair specialist and potentially replaced.
4. Is the Igniter Faulty?
If your gas oven won’t light, you may have a faulty igniter that needs a good cleaning or a repair/replacement. The ignitor is a small metal module covered with an open-grid metal cage. You may be able to see yours in the oven, or you may need to remove the bottom oven panel to access it.
When you turn on your oven, you should hear a short series of clicks before the gas ignites inside the oven. If it doesn’t click, turn off the oven to prevent the spread of gas, and then find a toothbrush—your igniter may need to be cleaned. Using the toothbrush, gently remove any gunk and debris from the igniter, and then unclog the pilot light hole with a needle. If this doesn’t resolve the issue with your gas oven not heating, your best bet is to replace the igniter altogether.
A telltale sign of a malfunctioning ignitor is that your gas oven is taking longer than usual to preheat to the desired temperature. The rule of thumb is that if it’s taking more than 15 minutes, your ignitor needs replacing. Don’t wait to have this service done—the longer your oven takes to heat up, the more energy it’s using, which impacts your monthly energy bills.
5. Is the Temperature Sensor Damaged?
If your oven won’t heat up, you could have a faulty temperature sensor. The sensor monitors the internal oven temperature and sends a signal to the control board to adjust the heat accordingly. To check if yours is working properly, make sure that it isn’t touching the interior oven wall, and then try this test: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Place a baking thermometer in the center of the oven and leave it there for half an hour. If it reads more than 20 degrees higher or lower than the temperature you set, then your sensor is likely malfunctioning—a common cause for an oven not heating correctly—and it needs to be replaced.
Another test to try is by using a multimeter to test your sensor for continuity. A multimeter is a device used to measure different electrical properties like resistance, voltage, and current. A continuity test checks to see whether the electrical pathway is open and that the electrical current is flowing between points.
To perform the test, you’ll need clear access to your oven’s temperature sensor, which is typically located toward the back of the oven, near the top. Most likely, you’ll need to remove the back panel of the oven to reach it. In most models, it’s a small round metal object that is connected to a wire. Once you’ve located it, use your multimeter to conduct the continuity test according to its instructions. If you determine that there’s no continuity, that’s a clear sign that your sensor needs replacing.
6. Does the Oven Need Calibrating?
If your oven is new, you may be wondering, “Why is my oven not heating up”? It’s not uncommon for oven temperatures to be slightly off, even in new ovens, which can cause them to run either too hot or too cool. If your oven won’t heat up, it may need to be calibrated. To calibrate a digital electric oven, you’ll need to consult your manufacturer’s manual. Calibration typically involves pressing and holding two buttons simultaneously (found in your manual) to start the calibration process, then adjusting the temperature, and saving your settings.
For older analog electric ovens, you’ll need to access the temperature control on the oven’s thermostat. Pull the temperature knob off your oven thermostat, locate the screw or screws on the back, and turn them clockwise to decrease the temperature or counterclockwise to increase it. Retest your oven temperature using an oven thermometer, and repeat the calibration process if needed.
To calibrate a digital gas oven, follow the same steps as you would an electric oven, making sure to test the temperature beforehand using an oven thermometer. For a gas oven with analog controls, it’s best to call in a professional due to the complexity involved.
7. Is It Covered by a Home Warranty
When faced with an oven not heating properly, a First American home warranty can provide a convenient repair/replacement solution. Simply call us when your oven won’t heat up and we’ll send a qualified, prescreened professional to your home to help you get back to baking as quickly as possible.
Our home warranties cover many household appliances and systems you use every day, providing peace of mind and budget protection when covered items unexpectedly break. If you don't have coverage yet, get a personalized home warranty quote and learn more about our plans and available upgrades and options.