If you’re a long-time user of an electric oven, you may not notice the occasional click it emits after it has started to heat up. However, if you’re new to using this type of oven, you might be alarmed and wonder if it’s normal and why you hear that sound.
When an electric oven clicks, it is an indication that the oven is currently regulating its temperature. The sound is perfectly normal and is coming from an electric switch, also known as a relay. As the relay clicks on and off, it keeps the oven from excessive heating or cooling.
The rest of this article will take a look at how the heating mechanisms of an oven work so that we can understand more deeply why the click occurs. We will also take a look at some other routine sounds you may hear from your appliance and a few sounds that indicate a potential problem.
The Mechanics Behind the Click
For many of us, what is happening internally in our kitchen appliances is a bit of a mystery. In order to understand where the click comes from, let’s first explore a few technical concepts in the design of the oven. Here, we will take a look at the circuitry specifics that heat the oven, the exact function of the bake and broil settings, as well as what is happening when the oven is regulating its own heat.
The first piece of the electronic circuitry we need to understand is the relay. A relay is an electric switch and can vary in number and location, depending on the oven. One common location for a relay is behind the thermostat knob, which you would turn to select a heat setting.
A relay switch opens and closes circuits that are responsible for heating the oven. Setting a temperature on your oven clicks the switch and closes the circuit, allowing the heating process to begin. As the oven begins to heat to the desired temperature, the switch will click off, and the circuit will be opened. When the circuit is opened, the heating power is then disabled.
This process can repeat itself several times as your oven works to maintain the temperature you have set. Hearing a click is a good indication that your oven is working properly and will maintain the right temperature.
Bake and Broil
By examining your oven’s bake and broil abilities, we can understand more thoroughly how the oven generates and maintains an appropriate level of heat. Heat regulation and its accompanying click are often due to the oven shifting back and forth between the baking heating and the broil method.
When the oven is heating to bake, it is typically for temperatures up to 375℉ (191℃). When it comes to location, food that is to be baked is placed on the middle rack. Appropriate foods to bake would be ones that start in liquid form and end up solid after baking, such as muffins or bread.
Baking utilizes longer amounts of time with lower temperatures. This allows the food to cook more slowly from the inside out while avoiding burns.
When it comes to broiling, temperatures are typically much higher but are used for shorter periods. The temperature might reach up to 550℉ (288℃), and food is usually placed on the top rack in the oven so the heat can quickly and easily reach it. Thin, solid foods like meat, fish, and vegetables are usually suitable for broiling.
Inside the oven, the heating mechanisms for the two processes have different locations. The broiler heat source is usually located on the oven’s top while the baking heat source is on the bottom. When the oven is heating, it switches between the two heating elements to maintain the desired temperature.
As the oven continues maintaining the set temperature, it can drop up to 30℉ (-1℃) below the target or increase to 30℉ (-1℃) above. While this might seem like a lot, it is normal in ovens’ design according to oven manufacturer GE Appliances. The goal is to create an average temperature that meets the target.
When understanding how much cycling is required to heat your oven properly, it becomes easier to understand why you hear the clicking sound corresponding to proper temperature cycling. Now that we understand the reason behind the primary clicking sound, let’s examine a few other sounds from your oven.
Other Common Electric Oven Sounds
Another feature of your oven that might be causing noise is the fan. Usually located at the oven’s back, this feature helps distribute the heat around the oven evenly. When the heat of an oven reaches about 210℉ (99℃), the fan will activate. When the temperature drops below 160℉ (72℃), it is typical for the fan to shut off.
Although this should cause a more gentle whirring sound instead of a clicking sound, it is another sign that your oven is functioning normally and should not be interpreted as a cause for alarm.
Naturally, as metal is heated and cooled, it expands and contracts accordingly. While this process is occurring, it is possible to hear some cracks or pops. This sound is not as common because it is only likely to occur with high temperatures. However, it is still considered normal and not a sign of any problem.
As explored above, the clicks coming from your electric oven as it heats and cools are perfectly normal. However, if these clicks could not be described as occasional, your oven is trying to tell you something and it might be time to notice.
If the clicks are continuous, in rapid succession, or otherwise seem to be out of the ordinary, it can indicate a problem with the relay switch. It is possible that the switch has broken and needs to be replaced. It is also possible that the connection to the relay has become loose or otherwise damaged.
If this seems to be the case, it is best to discontinue using your oven until a professional examines it.
Tips for Electric Oven Longevity
If you now understand that your oven is working perfectly and you would like it to continue to do so, it’s important to perform routine care for your appliance.
A simple cleaning habit for the inside of an oven goes a long way. Remember to wipe down the inside of your oven often, especially after cooking messy dishes that may have spilled and left traces of food behind. By keeping surfaces clean and clear of food, you are ensuring optimal performance and avoiding inefficiencies that could lead to bigger problems later on.
If there is evidence of quite a few dinners splattered against your oven’s inner walls, you might consider Easy Off’s Professional Oven and Grill Cleaner on Amazon. Instead of elbow grease, you can apply this product and let it sit for a few minutes while it starts its deep-clean. This will make the process of removing tough grime and food build-up much easier.
Remember, stay safe and unplug your oven before cleaning. By unplugging your electric appliance, you eliminate any risk of electrocution or harm to yourself.
When electric ovens click, we can now understand that we hear part of the heat regulation process. We are hearing the relay turn on or off, and we can realize that the oven is either actively heating itself above or cooling itself below the desired temperature. The bake and broil heating mechanisms give different means and locations to generate the necessary heat.
If you are wondering if you can leave your oven on overnight, the answer is yes, but it is never recommended, especially if you leave it unattended. Leaving an oven on overnight is dangerous if you’re asleep and no one watches it. No one will be able to prevent any risk or danger from happening.
Finally, if your meal needs to be prepared for over 12 hours, never leave it unsupervised. Every oven, whether electric or gas, may be left open if you watch what you’re cooking. To prevent any risk or danger, turn your ovens off after any dish is ready to serve.