My oven goes boom
December 1, 2010 12:11 PM   Subscribe

Why did my oven make a loud banging noise? Is this dangerous?

For the last month or so, my oven has made an occasional loud banging sound while being used. Yesterday while broiling something/heating it to 500 degrees, it made this loud banging noise at least five times in about 20 minutes. It's a regular (not convection) oven and came with the apartment; it has worked perfectly fine but is probably not very new. Is this dangerous? Should I contact maintenance nonetheless?

I tried to look this up on the Internet but all I got were some results about new ovens malfunctioning/the possibility of the glass shattering. My oven is definitely not brand-new, however, and we had been using it for several months prior with no issues.
posted by leedly to Home & Garden (12 answers total)
Do you have any cookware in it when it makes the banging noise? I have cookie sheets (made of thin metal) that do that when heated up.
posted by ShooBoo at 12:14 PM on December 1, 2010 [7 favorites]

My grandma's oven did this all the time - it was the sound of slightly loose panels banging while heating up (basically functioning like ShooBoo's cookie sheets). She had the same oven for my entire childhood and teen years, and it never did anything more dangerous than bang.

Possibly a way to test this theory would be to heat it up with an empty cookie sheet in it and see if the sheet makes the same noise as the oven?
posted by Coobeastie at 12:18 PM on December 1, 2010 [1 favorite]

the oven floor & walls can do the same thing as the cookie sheets in ShooBoo.

you should be fine as long as you don't smell gas and the oven is maintaining proper temperatures.

by the way, Gas or Electric? this can have an effect on how fast it heats up.
posted by ChefJoAnna at 12:19 PM on December 1, 2010

dammit... "in ShooBoo's comment"
posted by ChefJoAnna at 12:19 PM on December 1, 2010

If not in the oven, is there possibly something in the broiler tray below that could be warping from the heat?
posted by xedrik at 12:19 PM on December 1, 2010

Yes, I've had cookware in it when this happens. I'm trying to remember if it's happened while the oven has just been heating up...

It's an electric oven.

Hmm, I don't think there is anything in the broiler tray but I can check on that.
posted by leedly at 12:22 PM on December 1, 2010

It is possibly due to the expansion of the metal. As metal is heated, it expands, and usually in an oven the metal is very thin, and bent into various shapes. When it is heated to a high temperature sometimes these pieces sometimes contort slightly, and this changing of shape results in noise being produced.

I say possibly, as this is a very likely cause - of course there could be something else wrong. A way of checking if it is expansion/contraction causing this noise is to listen out for a similar sound when the oven is cooling down. This is probably a slower process so you might have to listen more carefully.
posted by a womble is an active kind of sloth at 12:24 PM on December 1, 2010

Your oven doesn't stay a constant temperature; it cycles on and off within a certain range of the temperature you have set. A good oven will be a few degrees, a bad one can be 50 degrees or more.

The banging is indeed the expansion of metal in your oven, not dangerous, but a sign that the oven is probably inefficient to begin with. The repeated banging is it cooling and warming through the cycles, a sign of more inefficiency.

You could probably help this by building a thermal "battery" in your oven - some good clay bricks, or a heavy pizza stone at the bottom - more mass that will hold the temperature more stable during the cooking. It won't do anything for inefficiencies of heat leaking, but it might cut down on the number of bangs (there will always be one for warm up and cool off), and it will certainly help your baking as the temperature (and outcome of your goods) will be more consistent.

You might also put a thermometer in there. Then you can check after the bangs and see if you can figure out what temperature it is where the metal expands to cause the bang.
posted by I am the Walrus at 12:57 PM on December 1, 2010

Mine does the same thing. It's just the metal panels. Scared the snot out of me the first couple of times though.
posted by TooFewShoes at 1:12 PM on December 1, 2010

For the last month or so

I don't know your location, but for me this time correlates to lots of new noises for me as well--it's cold outside now, and the temperature difference from below freezing outdoors to a 500 degree oven is pretty high. I hear loud, tree-size snapping and popping noises around the house once or twice a day when the heater comes on. Is it possible your oven is near a surface that might be colder than previous due to outdoor exposure, such as an exterior wall or something similar? That would certainly explain it.
posted by Phyltre at 1:50 PM on December 1, 2010

When my oven makes this noise, it's usually one of the racks adjusting itself to the heat.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:05 PM on December 1, 2010

Why did my oven make a loud banging noise?

Somebody is inside and wants to get out.

Is this dangerous?

For you? No.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 11:29 PM on December 1, 2010

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