What is the number one reason why your oven won’t heat up all the way? You might be surprised to find out that it’s actually because you’re cooking something in there!
Yup, according to a recent study, over 80% of people who have an electric stove-top oven are cooking at less than 300 degrees Fahrenheit. That means that they’re only using about 20% of their heating power.
And if you think this isn’t a problem, well then let me tell you what happens when you go from high heat to low heat on your oven without turning off the burner underneath your pan or pot: nothing. Your food will continue to cook and burn while sitting in its juices until it eventually boils dry and turns into some sort of charred nightmare.
How do electric ovens work?
Electric ovens usually have a dial that only has off and high as two settings, so you can only use it a full blast or turn it off.
If you remember your high school physics class, this is just like your car engine not going over 3k RPMs- turning the dial won’t affect how fast it’s spinning.
An electric oven has a heating element underneath the oven floor that is flat and long in shape- it looks just like two big spoons facing each other. It’s this part that gets hot when you turn on your oven, and it creates heat radiating up to the top of the oven.
When you set your oven to High Heat, it turns on both elements simultaneously and uses all of its power to heat up. So in a perfect world, your oven would get very hot through the bottom element, and then that heat would transfer up to the top element. This would effectively heat everything cooking inside- whether it’s meat, vegetables, or bread.
But once you put food into the oven, the heat is transferred away from the top element onto the food- which is why you need to turn it back up for your meal to cook.
This cycle continues until every last bit of heat has been transferred through your oven- even if that means going all the way up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you only want a medium or low temperature, then all you need to do is turn off the oven.
And even if you wanted to use it at a higher temperature, you can just turn on one of the elements- but don’t forget to switch it off when you’re done cooking!
Reasons your electric oven won’t heat up all the way:
1. You’re cooking with the door open –
I know you’re trying to keep your kitchen cool on these hot summer days by letting the oven fumes and heat out. But this is a huge mistake! When you open the door, all of that heat gets sucked up and away into the atmosphere- making it difficult for your oven to reach its full potential.
So try cooking with the door closed and you’ll notice that your oven bakes better and faster.
2. Your oven rack is set too high –
Most people think that they’ll get better results by placing their food on the top rack of the oven. But this leaves much of your oven going unused and forces you to turn it up extra high to heat your meal all the way through.
The best cooking racks are not only at the bottom of your oven- but slightly off to the left and right of the center. This allows heat from your oven’s center element to better heat up your food without having to turn up the heat as high.
3. Your oven is in a hot kitchen and has no ventilation –
Just like how you have a weak deodorant that doesn’t work so well in the hot summer, Your oven’s cooling and heating rates are dependent on the surrounding temperature.
If your oven is in a constantly hot kitchen, then you might have noticed that it takes longer for your food to cook and may even lead to burning. And if your oven does manage to heat up, then leaving the door open will let all of the air out again making it difficult for your oven to heat up.
So try moving the oven out of that hot kitchen and into a place with good ventilation to make it work more efficiently.
4. The cord or plug on your oven is faulty –
If your plug shows signs of wear and tear or is an older one, then it might not be able to transfer heat as effectively. This can lead to a lot of heating problems- such as when you turn on the oven but it just won’t heat up.
So try replacing the cord or plug with a new one and see if that helps your oven heat up more quickly.
5. something is blocking your top burner from getting power- a pot lid, aluminum foil, etc. –
If your oven isn’t heating up, it’s probably because you’re using something that’s blocking the top element from getting power. When your oven is on High Heat or a lower temperature, you’ll want to make sure that nothing is blocking your top element because that’s where the heat is generated for the oven.
6. You’re cooking with the top element only –
Just like how it’s easier to heat the inside of your oven with an element at the top, you’ll also need to have an element at the bottom as well. And if you only use your top element and forget about the one at the bottom, then all of that heat is going to stay near the top because there’s no downward force.
So make sure to turn on both elements when cooking- or just crank up the temperature so that they’ll both be on for you at the same time!
7. Your oven is just old and needs to be replaced –
I know, keeping up with the latest technology can be frustrating- especially when you get an oven that seems like it’s not working as well as your parents did.
But if you take a step back and consider all of the reasons as to why your oven doesn’t work, then you’ll realize that there’s a pretty easy fix for all of these problems. And if your oven is just old and past its prime, then it might be time for a new one anyway!
Remedies to fix an electric oven that won’t heat up all the way
If you think your oven isn’t heating because of one of these reasons, then here are some simple tips and fixes that I’ve picked up over the years to help get your oven working again.
1. Pre-heat your oven before using –
Just like when you’re cooking on a gas stove, it’s important to preheat your electric stove before putting anything in there so that it can heat up properly. For an electric range with two or more elements, just turn them both on at a low setting and continue heating until you see steam coming from inside of it (about 5-10 minutes).
2. Open up the door slightly as food cooks –
Since most of your heat is generated at the top element during the cooking time for an electric stove, opening up the door lets all of that hot air escape leaving the oven to work more efficiently.
3. Don’t use aluminum foil or a pan lid –
Since your top element is where the heat gets generated, try not to block it with any sort of metal that can deflect that heat as this will only slow down the cooking process. Make sure you have an element at the bottom as well so that all of those hot air pockets get pushed around and heated up evenly.
4. Clean out your oven periodically –
If you’ve had your oven for a long time, then there’s always going to be some caked-on dirt inside of it- especially if you’re like me and love baking everything! This dirt can accumulate over time turning into clumps that could interfere with your heating system if they get hot enough.
5. Check if your cord needs to be replaced –
If you think that the power is going through your oven but it’s just not heating up, then check out the cord on your stove- especially the plug part which sometimes gets damaged over time. If this seems like a potential problem from what you’ve read so far, try replacing the cord with a new one and see if that helps!
6. Replace your element or range top –
If everything checks out and there doesn’t seem to be any problems with your oven other than an old part, then it might be time to invest in getting some new parts for it like an element or a whole top unit. These parts are relatively cheap and can be replaced without much of a hassle.
And for all of you who think your oven is just too old and needs to be replaced, then keep in mind that these types of ovens are efficient nowadays! So if you’re thinking about getting a new stove or range for your kitchen, then be sure to check out the latest appliances on the market to see what you can get!
8. Your oven is not heating up, just means that your bake element has gone bad – Several components in an electric oven can fail at any given time- so if you think that there might be a problem with one of them, check out all of these reasons first and see if any of them fit with what you think the problem could be.
Hope this helps!