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Oven That Keeps Burning Everything? Here’s How to Fix It

If your oven keeps burning everything, it may be due to a faulty cooling fan, a malfunctioning thermostat, or an incorrect rack position. Other possible causes include improper calibration or dirty heating elements. To fix the problem, check and replace any faulty parts, adjust the rack position, clean the oven, and ensure it’s properly calibrated. If the problem persists, contact a professional technician.

In this article, I am not focusing on burnt food because you failed to follow the recipe or forgot to take the food out of the oven when you were supposed to. If you follow all the recipe instructions but your food still keeps burning, the problem is the oven. For instance, according to the Vox Media network-owned Now This News, your oven’s temperature may be off by as much as 50°F, causing food to cook at higher temperatures and become burnt. This is due to the reasons listed above. 

Having spent most of my adult life working with ovens, dealing with their challenges, and researching how they work, I can share my insights on dealing with one that keeps burning your food. I’ll go over all the problems and fixes in detail.

Let’s dive in!

Here are five major reasons that will cause an oven to keep burning.

  1. A worn-out or rusty oven fan
  2. The buildup of dirt in the rack
  3. A malfunctioning thermostat or thermistor
  4. A miscalibrated oven
  5. Faulty heating elements

Let’s now look at each of the solutions in detail.

Replace The Oven Fan

Most ovens have a fan, also known as a convection fan, installed inside to circulate the hot air. This ensures that the temperature inside the oven stays consistent and there are no hot spots. However, as ovens age, their capacity to circulate hot air may decrease as the fans malfunction. As a result, you’ll have burn or raw spots on your food. 

Thankfully, diagnosing an issue with the convection fan is not an arduous task. The fan is visible through the oven door. As such, turn on the oven, don’t put anything inside that can obstruct your view, close the oven door, and see if the fan runs. 

If it doesn’t turn on, there’s something wrong, and you need to replace it. Likewise, if the fan is running but making a lot of noise, that also indicates a problem you must fix.

How To Fix

If your fan is running but creating a lot of noise, the problem might be worn-out bearings. All you need to do is replace the bearings. 

However, if the fan doesn’t come on at all, it might be because the fan motor failed, in which case, you need to get a new convection fan. Note that the type of convection fan you need will vary depending on your oven’s model. I recommend you contact your dealer to know precisely which convection fan to buy. 

Here is a 9-min YouTube video from AMRE Supply on how to diagnose and replace a faulty oven convection fan:

Clean The Racks

An oven rack is not just a tool to hold your food; it also helps air circulation in your oven. If you don’t clean your oven racks regularly, the dirt can build up over time and eventually clog up the vents and the grates.

This will impede proper airflow, which can cause burn spots on your food. Therefore, cleaning your oven racks is crucial to maintaining the quality of your cooking.

How To Fix

Cleaning an oven is a straightforward process, but here’s a step-by-step guide on the most efficient way to clean your oven:

Note: Unplug your oven and let it cool down before cleaning it.

  1. Put 1 cup of baking soda in a mixing bowl
  2. Pour 1 – 3 cups of water. Give it a good mix.
  3. Apply the baking soda mixture in the oven’s interior, avoiding the heating elements, close it, and leave it like that for 12 hours. I prefer to leave it overnight. 
  4. Fill a spray bottle with regular vinegar and spray it inside the oven chamber over the baking soda mixture. You should notice some fizzing. Don’t worry about it.
  5. Let the vinegar sit for a few minutes.
  6. Take a sponge and some warm water and wipe clean the oven’s inside. You might need some elbow grease across the racks to ensure all the dirt comes off.
  7. Once done, wipe down with a damp cloth followed by a dry one.

And that’s it! Your oven racks are now squeaky clean, and the foul burning smell should disappear from your food.

Rubbermaid Stainless Steel Instant Read Oven Monitoring Thermometer

Replace The Thermostat or Thermistor

A thermostat or thermistor is an essential component of an oven that regulates its temperature. If it malfunctions, your oven may not heat up or may heat up too much, resulting in burnt or undercooked food. If you’ve checked everything else and your oven still isn’t working correctly, it is time to replace the thermostat or thermistor.

How To Fix

There’s no definite guide on replacing a thermostat or thermistor since different ovens use different sensors in different positions. That’s why you should look at your oven’s user manual to know the temperature sensor’s location and the particular type. 

Look inside the oven chamber for a small bulb-like probe sticking out of a hole. Once you figure out the position of the thermostat, remove the oven panel hiding the sensor. From there, unscrew and remove the oven temperature sensor and replace it with a new one.

For reference, here’s a quick 6-minute YouTube video from AMRE Supply showing how to replace your oven thermistor:

Calibrate The Oven

Oven miscalibration can lead to overcooked or undercooked food. If you’ve recently replaced your oven temperature sensor and your food is still not cooking correctly, you might need to calibrate your oven.

Calibrating your oven is a simple process that involves adjusting the temperature settings to match the temperature inside the oven. You need an oven thermometer to measure the temperature inside the oven accurately. I  recommend the Rubbermaid Commercial Monitoring Thermometer (available on Amazon). It can measure temperatures between 60° and 580°F (20° and 300°C). 

Once you have your thermometer, preheat the oven to 350°F and let it sit for about 15 minutes. After that time, check the thermometer reading to see if it matches the temperature you set the oven to. You must adjust the temperature settings if the thermometer reading is off by over a few degrees.

You will need to locate the calibration dial or button on your oven to calibrate your oven. This is usually found on the back of the oven or the control panel. Refer to your oven manual for specific instructions on accessing the calibration settings.

Replace The Heating Elements

If all the above fixes seem futile, it’s time to focus on the heating elements. The heating elements are essential components. You may experience inconsistent baking or broiling results if they malfunction.

How To Fix

To replace the heating elements, turn off the power by unplugging the oven or the circuit breaker. Then, locate the screws that secure the heating elements in place and remove them. Carefully remove the old heating elements and replace them with new ones.

How To Stop Your Oven From Burning At The Bottom

An oven burning at the bottom is a common problem for various reasons. It’s frustrating when you put so much effort into cooking a meal only to have it ruined by the oven burning the bottom. One of the main reasons for this is incorrect temperature settings. 

Another cause of your oven burning the food at the bottom could be the positioning of your oven rack. If your rack is too close to the bottom, it can cause the underpart of your food to burn. To fix this issue, adjust the rack to a higher position.

However, if the issue persists, consider the bakeware you use. Certain baking dishes, such as glass or dark metal, can absorb and retain more heat, causing the bottom of your food to burn. Switching to lighter-colored bakeware or a baking sheet can help prevent this issue, as lighter colors reflect radiant heat.

Common Mistakes Home Cooks Make When Using Their Ovens And How To Avoid Them

Here are some common mistakes home cooks make when using their ovens and how to avoid them.

MistakeHow to Avoid
Not preheating the ovenAlways preheat your oven to the desired temperature before placing your food inside. This ensures that your food cooks evenly and thoroughly.
Overcrowding the ovenAvoid putting too much food in the oven, as this can prevent air from circulating correctly, causing uneven cooking and burning. Use multiple racks if necessary, or cook in batches.
Opening the oven door too oftenAvoid opening the oven door too frequently, as this lets out heat and can cause temperature fluctuations. Instead, use the oven light and window to check your food.
Not using a thermometerInvest in a good-quality oven thermometer to ensure your oven is heating to the desired temperature. This will help prevent undercooking or overcooking, which can lead to burning.
Not adjusting for altitudeIf you live at a high altitude, adjust your cooking time and temperature accordingly, as the lower air pressure at high altitudes can affect cooking times and temperatures.
Not using the right bakewareAllow your food to rest a few minutes after cooking to ensure the internal temperature evens and the juices redistribute. This will help prevent burning and ensure a moist and flavorful result.
Not cleaning the oven regularlyRegularly clean your oven to prevent the buildup of food debris and grease, which can cause burning and affect the taste of your food.
Using the broil setting incorrectlyThe broil setting is designed for quick cooking and browning, not for long cooking. Ensure to use the broil setting only when the recipe calls for it and for the specified time.
Not using a timerAlways use a timer to keep track of your cooking time and prevent overcooking or burning.
Not letting food rest after cookingAllow your food to rest for a few minutes after cooking to ensure that the internal temperature evens and the juices redistribute. This will help prevent burning and ensure a moist and flavorful result.

Bottom Line

As you can see, dealing with an oven that burns everything you cook can be frustrating and discouraging. However, by following the above tips, you can diagnose the problem and cook your oven perfectly in no time. Happy cooking!

FAQs

How often should I clean my oven to prevent burning food?

You can do this as often as you like, but cleaning your oven at least once every three months is recommended. This will help prevent any buildup of food or grease that can cause your oven to overheat and burn your food.

Can I put salt on the bottom of my oven?

You can put salt on the bottom of your oven to help absorb any spills or drips, but cleaning it up regularly is important to prevent it from building up and causing your oven to heat unevenly.

Author

  • Steve Rajeckas

    Steve Rajeckas is an HVAC hobbyist with an avid interest in learning innovative ways to keep rooms, buildings, and everything else at the optimal temperature. When he's not working on new posts for Temperature Master, he can be found reading books or exploring the outdoors.

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