Electric Oven Repair
December 28, 2018 12:33 PM   Subscribe

My oven recently stopped working. There was a very loud bang/pop noise, and the circuit breaker blew. I thought it was the oven element (something similar happened previously), but when I opened the back to disconnect it, I found the real reason. Now I have a question on electrical wiring.

It seems the wires leading from the bottom oven element somehow became frayed and crossed, causing the short. The wires are burnt and broken, so now I have two slightly charred ends and an element that appears fine.

Can I fix this myself? The wires are no longer long enough to reach the element, so I'm wondering if I can splice in a new section with the proper connectors to attach to the element. Is it that simple, or do I need an appliance repair pro?

If this qualifies as a DIY, what kind of wire do I need? It's a 220v fairly standard Kenmore oven.

Bonus points: this oven has given us problems before. The control board went two years ago, causing the oven element to heat uncontrollably until it warped and nearly started a fire before shorting. So I'm leery about home repairs with it. But it's well maintained and in excellent condition otherwise.
posted by GhostintheMachine to Home & Garden (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Electrically speaking, you can replace and/or splice wires, as long as you use the same gauge or heavier, and same temperature spec on the insulation, etc. In your shoes, I would at put in the next gauge higher (smaller number), and probably look for Teflon/PTFE high-temp insulation even if the original was PVC or similar.

You should use mechanical crimp connectors for splices -- solder alone won't do (although you can solder on top of a mechanical crimp if you like). Buy some extra connectors and practice crimping them before you do the main repair.

If you're rooting around in there, you should check ALL the wires. I would guess that you're getting a lot of insulation deterioration, and you may have problems in the future. Since you've already had a "house burn down" event, I'd be inclined to just replace the unit. A repair may work OK, but if something else in there shorts and burns down your house, you can bet that the insurance company will try to stick you with the bill because you worked on it.
posted by spacewrench at 12:44 PM on December 28, 2018

This is one of those times when I'd say that if you're asking, you should hire a pro. It sounds like a simple job from way over here where we only have a few scant paragraphs of information about the situation, but the messy reality might be quite different indeed. And 220v is nothing to just go casually fucking around with, you want to make sure that everything is spit-spot and proper if you want to avoid dying or setting your house on fire. So unless you're already 100% confident that you understand the situation and know how to handle it correctly (in which case you wouldn't be here) I'd get an electrician in. Assuming there's not something grossly fucked going on (which there might well be, because what happened to your oven is something that should never happen and suggests that there might well be other issues in play—all the more reason to hire a pro before you find yourself in over your head) it should only be a couple hours' work for an electrician to fix.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:44 PM on December 28, 2018 [8 favorites]

For insurance purposes, you will almost certainly need to get the work either performed or certified by an appropriately accredited electrician. So from a financial standpoint you very much risk spoiling the ship for a pennyworth of tar. Once you factor in even the most marginal risk to life it just cannot be worth doing it yourself.
posted by howfar at 1:11 PM on December 28, 2018 [3 favorites]

Don't chance it with home electricity. The risks may be low, but the consequences are extreme. Hire an electrician, best of luck
posted by smoke at 3:47 PM on December 28, 2018

The risks are not even that low, tbh. This is probably a 50-amp circuit, 220V, with some questionable wiring involved. That's a lot of power; your average US household outlet can put out about 1500 watts, whereas this circuit delivers north of 10,000. And we already know that the wiring is in bad shape, because it shorted out; if the breaker hadn't tripped, the house would have caught fire. Seriously best to leave it to a pro to deal with.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 3:58 PM on December 28, 2018

My oldest went through this rotation over the Fall. Kenmore oven, too, so Sears was involved for the replacement part. My son has worked as a senior electronic technician on a campus, so none of this was a big deal. He got the runaround from customer service after ordering, late communication about back order status and two months later, fed up with no part & poor communication, he bought a new appliance. If you go forward with DIY, I wish you better luck with obtaining the part. The appliance came with his house.
posted by childofTethys at 7:15 PM on December 28, 2018

The best repair for a DIYer would be to replace the complete wire from the element to where it connects to the control. Usually there is a female spade connector to the control and a ring terminal on the element. The wire, connector and terminal should all be high temperature variants. An appliance repair store should be able to hook you up with what you need. You'll also need proper crimpers for the connector and terminal. These Klein cripers are typical in the trade.
posted by Mitheral at 7:28 PM on December 28, 2018 [1 favorite]

If you want to go the DIY route, check with Kenmore to see if they sell a wiring harness. If they do, it should be a simple matter of removing the old one and installing the new. The harness will have all the connectors attached.
posted by Marky at 11:23 PM on December 28, 2018

Response by poster: OK, that confirms my doubts. I've had to fix my washer, dryer, hot water tank, and various other house and car fixtures, and I surprised myself with how easy they were. This one felt beyond me, even though it seemed straightforward, and I didn't know if I was overthinking it. Good to have a definite answer.

Ugh. Well, since I can't afford an electrician right now I guess we'll be doing a lot of winter barbecue. Thanks, everyone.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 2:47 PM on December 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

Hey there, when I was reading this earlier I thought that the wires that had shorted were the house wires feeding the oven, not the wires on the oven itself. Apologies for the misreading. I stand by my advice to not screw around with a DIY repair, but what you might do if you can't afford an electrician is buy yourself a used oven from a shop that deals in such things, just to tide you over until you can get something better in there. Around here such things seem to run in the $50-$150 range, which is probably similar to what you'd spend in propane over the course of a season if you did all your cooking on the grill.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 6:37 PM on December 29, 2018

« Older Songs by bands about being in bands   |   I AmThe Goon Who Stole Christmas, Or Dropped It... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.