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Oven overheating: possible causes and solutions

Your family counts on the oven to bake, broil and roast their favorite meals, but an oven that gets too hot can turn classic family favorites into dry and crumbly dishes. Read on to learn signs that an oven is overheating, 7 possible reasons for the problem, how to troubleshoot the issue and how to recalibrate your oven’s thermostat.  

Chicken breasts baking in the oven Chicken breasts baking in the oven

How do you tell if your oven is too hot?

Overly browned, dry, crumbly, tough or smoking foods may be the first sign that your oven is getting too hot, but you can test your oven for overheating with a manual oven thermometer. Place the oven-safe thermometer in the center of the middle rack, then remove it once your oven indicates it’s reached the set temperature. If the manual thermometer reading is higher than your oven’s preset, you likely have an oven overheating problem.

Why is my oven getting too hot?

An overheating oven can stem from a variety of potential causes, but there’s plenty you can do to narrow down the source of the problem. See a list of 7 possible causes below and learn how to address them. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to contact a professional for additional support.

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1. Broken thermostat

An oven’s thermostat works with a temperature sensor to switch heating elements on and off, helping the oven reach and maintain the temperature you set. A broken thermostat may not communicate with the temperature sensor effectively and could cause the oven to overheat. Contact a professional if you think your oven’s thermostat may be faulty. 

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2. Faulty thermostat knob

Some ovens include a single thermostat knob that you manually adjust to set the oven’s temperature, but a cracked or chipped knob may misrepresent the oven’s true temperature settings. Inspect the knob for signs of damage, then consult your owner’s manual if a replacement is necessary.

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3. Damaged cooling fan

The cooling fan circulates air to help keep the controls and components from getting too hot. Though not all ovens incorporate cooling fans, those that do may run the cooling fan on a low or high setting depending on the oven’s cycle and temperature, and can continue cooling until the oven reaches a specific temperature. A fan that’s damaged or dirty from food splatter may contribute to the oven overheating. You’ll need to remove the back panel to get a close look at the fan, so it’s best to hire a professional to determine if it needs maintenance or replacing.

Thermometer with warning icon

4. Broken temperature sensor

A temperature sensor reads the oven’s internal temperature and works together with various components to help keep temperatures consistent. This small, thin tube is typically located at the back of the oven and should be positioned at a 90° angle for optimal performance. Do a visual check to see if your oven’s sensor is misaligned or damaged, as this could cause inaccurate temperature readings that lead to overheating.

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5. Damaged heating element

The heating elements on the top, back or bottom of the oven may contribute to overheating if they’re knocked loose, damaged or coated in grease or food splatter. You can inspect oven heating elements for signs of wear, just be sure to disconnect the oven from power before you begin.

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6. Blocked oven vent

An oven vent plays an important role in regulating internal oven temperatures. The vent releases some hot air from the oven cavity as cool air funnels in through the bottom of the oven, but a blocked vent can prevent hot air from escaping and potentially cause overheating. You can keep the vent in working order with regular cleaning and by keeping a few inches of space between bakeware and the walls of the oven.

Oven thermometer icon

7. Oven needs to be recalibrated

Calibrating an oven involves adjusting your oven’s temperature settings to ensure accuracy. An oven can require recalibration if it is older or following a recent move. If an oven thermometer does not match your oven’s temperature settings, you may need to recalibrate your oven.

Person’s hand over an oven door above a digital display Person’s hand over an oven door above a digital display

Why is the outside of my oven so hot?

It’s normal for the cooktop, oven door, oven window and areas around the oven vent openings to get warm or hot to the touch during operation. You may notice these surfaces are warmer when the oven is set to higher temperatures or running for an extended period of time. Be sure to use oven mitts when handling hot oven elements.

Person pulling out lower oven rack Person pulling out lower oven rack

How do you troubleshoot an oven that’s overheating?

Always start troubleshooting an overheating oven by ruling out simpler potential causes. Make sure you’re following your recipe’s instructions and manufacturer’s recommendations when it comes to issues such as the type of bakeware you’re using, the oven rack positioning, how many pans are on the rack and how cookware is spaced.

With those factors ruled out, you can move on to troubleshooting more complicated reasons for overheating. If you’re not sure where to start and have a Whirlpool brand oven, schedule a service appointment for your appliance.

How do you troubleshoot an electric oven that’s overheating?

Start narrowing down the cause of an electric oven overheating by giving the oven cavity a thorough cleaning. This may help restore full functionality to parts like the thermostat sensor, cooling fan, heating elements or vent, which won’t work properly with too much grime build-up.

If your oven keeps overheating after it’s cleaned, inspect unchecked components like the cooling fan, temperature knob and sensor for potential damage. Consult a professional if you need help evaluating the situation.

How do you troubleshoot a gas oven that’s overheating?

Many causes of an overheating oven apply to both gas and electric models, but gas models can also overheat when they don’t get the right amount of gas from the supply line. Once you’ve checked that gas valves are turned on, it’s best to contact a certified professional to inspect the gas lines and help determine if they’re the cause of overheating.

How do you know if an oven thermostat is faulty?

If you’ve checked your preheated oven’s temperature against a manual oven thermometer and it isn't within 15 degrees of the set temperature, consider calibrating it with the help of your owner’s manual before inspecting the thermostat. A recalibrated oven that’s still overheating may have a faulty thermostat that needs to be replaced.

How do you reset an oven thermostat?

Ovens that read above or below 15 degrees of the set temperature need to be recalibrated, but how you reset the thermostat depends on which type of oven you have. Your owner’s manual should have specific instructions for recalibration, but there are general guidelines for different types of ovens.

Electric ovens with digital controls will typically guide you with menu prompts to the oven’s calibration settings, while electric ovens with analog controls require manual adjustments to the screws on the back of the temperature knob. Gas ovens without digital controls require a more complicated recalibration process that’s best done by a professional.

Person closing a slightly opened oven door Person closing a slightly opened oven door

How can you cool an oven down fast?

Ovens typically take about 30–45 minutes to cool down, but cooling time can vary depending on the oven’s temperature, capacity, environment and fuel type. Cracking open the oven door may help it cool faster but it can also pose a safety hazard, so it’s best to keep the door closed.

Explore Whirlpool® wall ovens

If it's time for a new oven, Whirlpool® wall ovens come in single, double and microwave-wall oven combination configurations so you can make plenty for everyone at your table. Select ovens feature a built-in sensor that monitors the oven’s temperature and adjusts the cooking elements to help food bake evenly. Plus, with dual interior lighting on select models, you can keep a closer eye on your food’s progress.

Learn more about ovens with Whirlpool brand

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