Your kitchen stove works hard to accommodate your different cooking needs. Whether you’re cooking at high temperatures or simmering your dishes using delicate, slow cooking, your stove plays a crucial role in making delicious meals.
So if you notice your electric stove (for gas stoves, professional help will be needed) isn’t performing the way it used to, don’t be in a rush to buy a new one. Check the stove element first. Replacing this part could be all it takes to get your stove working like new again.
Signs it’s time to replace an electric stove element
A stove element, also known as a heating element, is the part of your stove that gets hot when you turn on a burner and transfers that heat to your pots and pans.
Over time, even the most durable stove elements can wear down or malfunction and need replacing. Here are some common signs that it’s time to replace your stove element.
Uneven heating is a sign that a stove element is starting to wear out. You might notice that one burner cooks food slower than others or that one side of a large pan cooks quicker than the other side. Another telltale sign is when an area of a burner coil is duller in red colour than other sections of the coil.
No heat at all
An easy way to know if there is a problem with the stove element is when it’s not heating after you switch the burner on. Using safety precautions are important when checking this.
Burnt spots or visible damage
Look for blistering, burns or cracks when inspecting your stove top. These damages are signs that it’s time to replace the stove element.
Strange smells or smoke
The heat created in cooking can cause smoke and a range of unexpected smells. Heating even a small amount of burnt food can create smoke, and new appliances can emit a plastic-like smell which is the result of heating and burning off the insulation or protective oil coating.
Not all smells or smoke are a concern. But if your stove smells of burning, there may be faulty wiring or a malfunctioning part. With any electrical concerns, it’s best to get your stove checked by a professional.
Causes of stove element damage
Now that you know when you might need to replace a stove element, it's time to understand how it gets damaged. Knowing the causes of stove element damage can help you keep your appliance running smoothly for years.
Overuse or wear and tear
The wires inside the stove element expand when heated and then contract again when they cool. This repeated action causes damage to the wires over long periods of time.
Spills or drips on the element
Stove elements that accumulate burnt-on food and grease become less effective. This forces them to work harder to generate heat and leads to quicker wear and tear.
If you notice spills or drips on the element, wipe them off with a soft cloth once it’s cooled down. The quicker this is done, the less likely there are to be build-up issues.
Incorrect cleaning methods
Stove cleaners recommended by your manufacturer can help manage food and grease build-up. But avoid using harsh cleaners as they can damage the surface of the stove element and create too much heat if not removed fully, causing a fire hazard.
Instead, consider using natural products like baking soda and water paste to gently remove stains.
Power surges or electrical issues
Electrical appliances are susceptible to damage from power surges or other electrical issues. These can cause a disruption to the settings of your stove or even melt some of the wiring.
Installing a power surge protector is an effective way to prevent damage to your stove and other appliances.
Troubleshooting the stove element
Testing a stove element can be a straightforward process if you have the right tools and instructions.
Here's the general process of testing your stove element.
- Turn off the stove’s mains power. If you used the stove recently, give it 30-60 minutes to cool down before proceeding to the next step.
- Remove the element you want to test.
- Locate the socket that the element plugs into.
- Check if there are screws holding it in place and unscrew if needed.
- With older stoves, there may also be wiring or insulation holding the element in place. If this is the case, ask a professional to do the repair.
- Hold the element on the opposite side to the socket.
- Lift the element up gently, an inch above the edge of the drip pan.
- Gently rock and pull the element until it frees.
- Inspect the element for signs of damage or wear. Look for bubbles, warping or damage to the connections.
- Use a multimeter to check for continuity in your stove element.
- Calibrate the device according to the manufacturer's instructions
- Touch the probes to the element terminals. Wait a few seconds for a reading.
- For readings of 0 or <1.0, the element's continuity is in perfect working order.
- If the reading is higher than 50 ohms or if there's a number 1 with no decimal on its left side, it's an indication that you need to replace the element.
Need help testing and replacing your stove element?
If you plan to carry out DIY testing and replace an electric stove element, make sure you refer to the manufacturer’s manual for specific instructions. This is especially important for older models or stoves with unique configurations.
Also, take safety precautions to prevent accidents and injury. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure about performing any of the steps involved, get in touch with us. We may be able to offer troubleshooting advice or connect you with a qualified technician in your area. And if needed, we can provide you with the stove spare parts needed.
We’re here to help. Call in and say hi at our Sydney warehouse, give us a call, or order online – whatever’s easiest for you. Wayne's Wholesale Spares has a huge stock of appliance spare parts available for purchase online or instore, at the lowest prices you’ll find anywhere.