What's with my oven?
August 21, 2010 5:07 PM   Subscribe

Help. My electric oven just went crazy!

What just happened to my electric oven? I was cooking something and it started making an unholy loud buzzing sound. When I opened the oven door there appeared to be a lightning storm inside (not kidding). I slammed it closed, turned it off and (obviously) won't turn it on again until it's looked at. What happened to it? Was it a short circuit?
posted by Wordwoman to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
When this happened to me, my landlord had to replace the coil on the bottom of the oven. After they replaced it, everything was fine. It's a terribly startling experience if you haven't had it happen before though!
posted by miratime at 5:10 PM on August 21, 2010

Miratime has it. One of your heating elements failed, and they do fail spectacularly. It's an easy fix.
posted by jon1270 at 5:26 PM on August 21, 2010

Sounds like an element burned out. It can be pretty dramatic if the conductor shorts to the sheath of the cal-rod; sometimes they spiral the entire length sparking and crackling the whole way.
posted by Mitheral at 5:35 PM on August 21, 2010

It's surprisingly simple to fix. I unplugged the oven, pulled it away from the wall, took the remnants of the coil out - mine not only did the lightning show, it caught fire, which was exciting - and took it to an appliance repair shop. The replacement coil was about $30; you just reconnect it - it kind of slips in, you don't even need tools - and voila, working oven.
posted by mygothlaundry at 5:40 PM on August 21, 2010

Were you by chance lining the bottom of your oven with aluminum foil to keep it clean? If so, this can cause the heating elements to overheat and is not recommended.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:16 PM on August 21, 2010

The oven heating coil is coated with an insulator on the outside. Once it cracks (often due to a spill or use of aluminum foil as liner) the strong current in the core arcs to the frame, and you get that lighting storm. Do not use the oven until the coil is replaced. Fortunately newer oven models are able to detect the current surge and prevent the fireworks... it's usually the crappy older models that do this.
posted by crapmatic at 11:01 PM on August 21, 2010

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