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Electric-start Gas Oven Unable to Reach 250+ F degrees (121 C)
July 27, 2009 11:11 AM   Subscribe

Electric-start gas oven unable to reach over 250 F (121 C) degrees--any way to fix or time to replace?

I have an electric-start gas oven from the 1970s whose identifying marks have disappeared or been painted over. For nearly three weeks now it has been unable to get hot enough. It turns on. It goes as high as, about 250 F (121 C) degrees, but it will not get any hotter--except once or twice a week on whim it will get up to 400+ F (204 C) degrees, but there is nothing indicating why it decides to work then. The attached stove top, also electric-start gas, has worked fine the entire time.

Any clues on why this is happening? What can I do to fix it? I recently needed to have my fridge (also from the 1970s) replaced, so I feel a bit bad going "Oh! And a new oven too, please."

Possible factors of its demise:
I bake a lot (by which I mean about 10,000 cookies a year + other stuff) and the previous tenant of three years did not cook/bake at all. Even though I've only been here a few months I can't imagine it liked running a marathon with no training.

It has been absurdly humid where I live, moreso than normal this summer (my TV broke because of it!).
posted by erin_trying to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I don't know a whole lot about gas oven repair, as at my job we refer those calls to appliance repairmen for reasons of safety.

It wouldn't be the ignition system--the oven is actually heating up, it's just not reaching or maintaining temperature. To hazard a guess, I would speculate that there's something going on with the gas flow in the oven.


I recently needed to have my fridge (also from the 1970s) replaced, so I feel a bit bad going "Oh! And a new oven too, please."


You shouldn't feel bad. If the appliances are from the 1970s, it's probably way past time to get them replaced. It's doubtful, given the age, that replacement parts would even be available at this point, so repair may not be an option anyway.

Possible factors of its demise:

I bake a lot (by which I mean about 10,000 cookies a year + other stuff) and the previous tenant of three years did not cook/bake at all. Even though I've only been here a few months I can't imagine it liked running a marathon with no training.

It has been absurdly humid where I live....


The amount of baking would have no impact on the oven's ability to reach and maintain temperature--they're made to bake and broil, so asking it to do what it was designed to do isn't an issue. The humidity is also irrelevant.


This looks like a job for a gas range repairman. I would discontinue use of the oven portion of the range and contact service.
posted by magstheaxe at 11:52 AM on July 27, 2009


My oven had a similar symptom, it's not that old, but perhaps you have the same problem. It has electric start, meaning the igniter's solid metal element is electrically heated to bright yellow. The heat from the igniter not only lights the gas, but also opens the gas valve, which closes if the element doesn't maintain temperature.

My igniter element had an intermittent open circuit, apparently, and cut out when it got hot enough. So the oven would light, but when the element stopped glowing, the valve would shut off. Eventually as it cooled off, we could light it again. The symptom was not 100 percent consistent, as one might expect from a bad electrical connection.

Replacing the igniter element fixed it for me, though you might have trouble doing that if you don't know what model the oven is. You might find a plate or label under the range cover or maybe on the back of it. Getting it away from the wall may not be a picnic, be careful of the flexible gas line. In fact turn the gas valve off before you monkey with it.

I've found fixya.com helpful for identifying parts. If you can get a manufacturer's part number for the igniter, you may be able to get an equivalent on ebay. Maybe your igniter even has a number right on it.

I believe these igniters usually fail by cracking, caused by thermal expansion and contraction. They're engineered to have some estimated number of heat-cool cycles before they fail, but they do fail eventually.

Good luck!
posted by maniabug at 11:56 AM on July 27, 2009


This is the igniter I needed, yours may be similar.

http://www.apwagner.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=152987

My answer assumes you have a similar type of ignition system. I don't know if your electric start arrangement is the same, so it may have a totally different mode of failure that might not explain your low-temperature problem.
posted by maniabug at 12:02 PM on July 27, 2009


My guess is the heating element is working, but the gas isn't being lit-- I had an oven that did a similar thing-- would drive me insane, stuck at the same 250F you're mentioning now.

Have you checked to see that the gas is actually burning? On my model, if I pulled out the little storage shelf at the bottom, and got really low down, I could see the gas burner, and lack of flame-thereon. I manually lit mine, but it was only a temporary solution to an incredibly frustrating problem, as it would occasionally go out mid-bake.

Stangely I was never gassed out, nor subject to a fireball explosion, so I guess my oven has some sort of concentration cut-out for when it happened. From doing a quick google now, it seems they do have a sensor for when the pilot light goes out, which then cuts the gas-- so that must be the problem.

This link might help or at least lead you down the right path to a solution.

But if you're spewing gas, then ask for a replacement-- a new oven is cheaper for the owner then a new apartment if things go awry.
posted by Static Vagabond at 12:03 PM on July 27, 2009


Around here the utility company (PG&E) will send out someone to assess and adjust gas appliances free of charge.
posted by Rhomboid at 12:17 PM on July 27, 2009


Just anecdata, but I have the exact same problem with my electric-start gas oven. I called PG&E, and they basically said they didn't care.

Unfortunately I can't afford a repair-person at the moment (and the oven is mine, not the landlords), so for now I'm stuck with doing all my cooking on the cook-top.
posted by trip and a half at 12:43 PM on July 27, 2009


There should be a thermocouple that senses what temperature the oven is at and adjusts the gas flow accordingly. These wear out over time and need to be replaced, so they are usually readily accessible with a few screws and a quick fix. Depends on your model.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 12:43 PM on July 27, 2009


Is the oven cycling? IE: when the oven is turned on to say 350F does the burner ever shut off? Gas ovens don't have variable flame; they are full on or full off and hold a temperature by cycling off and off (exception: broil setting is always on). If the burner is cycling then 95% you need a new thermostat/5% some other weird thing with the pilot/safety system. If the burner is not cycling it could still be your thermostat but 80% it's a clog in the orifice of the burner not letting enough gas through, usually a spider web.
posted by Mitheral at 3:45 PM on July 27, 2009


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