Home oven calibration?
June 16, 2018 11:17 AM   Subscribe

My oven is definitely out of whack: An oven thermometer (the one recommended by America's Test Kitchen) consistently shows a temperature that's 100 degrees lower than what's displayed. Among other things, it means my oven has a maximum temperature of 450 instead of 550. Are there services that will recalibrate a home oven? I am in NYC. Thank you.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Can you tell us a little more about your oven? Is it a manual or digital temperature selector? Who is the manufacturer? Some ovens are self-adjustable so that you can just tell it there’s a 100 degree offset. That said, 100 degrees seems like a pretty big error, so you may need to call a pro anyway.
posted by Betelgeuse at 11:33 AM on June 16, 2018

Response by poster: Digital. GE. I am looking for a pro but have had no luck searching for this particular service.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 12:02 PM on June 16, 2018

You can adjust it yourself, most likely. You just need to find the manual for your oven and it will have instructions for calibrating. If you don't have a physical copy you can probably find one on the GE site or via googling.

Otherwise, I am sure a handyman/woman could do this for you but if your oven has a calibration option, I promise it's VERY easy to do. Mine is literally "press x button 7 times to enter calibration mode, then enter how many degrees up or down to shift."
posted by joan_holloway at 12:21 PM on June 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

Do you have any other indications that your oven is off? I'd try another oven thermometer first, just to verify - something uncomplicated and simple like this one. Just in case its your thermometer that's off and not the oven; it might be $7 well spent.
posted by cgg at 12:24 PM on June 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

Another vote for "the oven will let you do this yourself" - I know I've looked it up for my GE, but your manual will have the details, and it's painless.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 12:55 PM on June 16, 2018

My gas GE oven died, basically, it started getting less and less hot until it reported it was at 450F when it was actually maxed out at like, 150F. After investigation of the manual I discovered the way to adjust things but of course that only let me adjust it by like 50 degrees or something. So I turned to a pro, which was also a bust at first - apparently there's some hoopla about GE parts and training only being for GE specific repair people? And I got mansplained at about this a million times, which, ugh. But my appliance was no longer under warranty! Finally I was like okay, whatever, I'll go through the GE website and whambam two seconds finding the closest service folks, set up an appointment like one or two days out, they came in, put in a new heat sensor, charged me a not unreasonable price and my oven has been fine since.

So anyway. Yes there are services that will do this, but some models of ovens are known to have faulty parts that don't last all that long (but, mysteriously, just long enough to be after warranty, hrmmmm) so it's probably worth it to you to have a person who knows their stuff come check out your oven anyway. I recommend going through your oven brand's manufacturer.
posted by Mizu at 1:09 PM on June 16, 2018 [2 favorites]

If you google “ge oven calibration”, you’ll get a few different hits based on your model number. However, an important caveat: it appears it will only let you do +/- 35 degrees, so you may be out of luck.

I don’t have any specific experience with them, but GE has their own repair service. Maybe start there if you can’t get a good independent person.
posted by Betelgeuse at 1:12 PM on June 16, 2018

Repair Clinic is an excellent resource, even if you don't plan to DIY, just to help you figure out what the problem might be. If you can exclude some factors then you can figure out how serious the issue is, and if you should call a repair person or start looking for a replacement oven/range. Here's their general page on oven temperature problems.

I have a GE gas range, and have done the repairs myself when parts have failed. The first time I ordered the parts from Repair Clinic, the second time I got the part locally from an appliance repair and parts shop. The local place very kindly cross-referenced in their computer and sold me a Maytag(?) branded but identical temperature sensor for half of what the GE part would have cost. But my oven was giving me a fault code, which I looked up in the manual, so it was easy to figure out the problem.

The worst part was moving the range to get at the back of it, but otherwise all I needed was a couple of screwdrivers and the ceramic wire nuts that came with the part. Repairs on many GE appliances tend to be either pretty simple DIY-level, or not worth the cost of calling a repair service (unless it is still under warranty).

I'd also do an Internet search with your model number to see if there's a known issue, or just to get a sense of what people's experiences have been. Sometimes the secret lies deep in old forum posts, or reddit. Or there's a video.
posted by monopas at 3:59 PM on June 16, 2018

Apologies for the non-answer, but if it is an electric oven, you may want to check that both the top and elements are still working. My MIL’s oven behaved like this when the bottom element had gone out.

It would suck to pay to have somebody to come out, only to discover the problem had been misdiagnosed.
posted by misterbrandt at 5:21 PM on June 16, 2018

Here's the directions for adjusting the thermostat for my GE gas oven. You can try it with yours and see if works. I have to put an oven thermometer in the oven, adjust the temp, wait ten minutes and check the new temperature, then fiddle up or down some more, because the calibration is not precise. Worse, it can cause a greater or lesser swing than what it indicates. By that I mean, your oven is 100 degrees off and this is hypothetically adjustable only by 35 degrees max. What I learned it, setting it a whole 35 degrees higher will, for instance, raise the temperature from 325 F. to 350 F., but it will raise the temperature from 425 F. to 475 F. Hence the fiddling.

1. Touch the Bake and Broil Hi/Lo pads at the same time for 3 seconds until the display shows SF.
2. Touch the Bake pad. A two-digit number shows in the display.
Touch Bake once to decrease the oven temperature, or twice to increase.
3. The oven temperature can be adjusted up as much as 35 degrees F. or down as much as 35 degrees F. Touch the number pads the same way you read them. For example, to change the oven temperature 15 degrees F., touch 1 and 5.
4. When you have made the adjustment, touch the Start pad to go back to the time-of-day display.
posted by Lunaloon at 3:58 PM on June 17, 2018

Response by poster: I paid for a GE repairman to come. He replaced the igniter, which was anemics, at a cost of a few hundred bucks to me (parts and labor). That didn't entirely solve the problem, but with the maximum calibration increase (35 degrees, as noted above), I'm pretty close to having a proper oven temperature now.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 4:32 PM on August 19, 2018

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