Can I fix my ovens myself?

My kitchen has a double oven, electric, analog, of uncertain age. The top oven’s broiler will not heat up beyond a very low temperature. The bottom oven is wildly and unpredictably inaccurate in temperature; setting it for 350 produces (according to the oven thermometer) temps of anywhere between 425 and 500, and setting it for 450 pins the oven thermometer at its maximum of 600 degrees. (All temps in Fahrenheit).

I seem to recall that replacing a heating element is a relatively simple DIY task, but where do I get a replacement? For the bottom oven, should I (and can I) replace the thermostat? Does the fact that they’re both failing at the same time suggest that there’s a common problem somewhere else, or is it more likely just a quirk of their both being equally old?

I’ve done it. It’s not hard. Call an appliance dealer, and if they don’t sell the parts, they can refer you to some place that does.

Are you sure it’s the heating elements that are the problem?

No, I guess part of what I’m asking is what else it might be that could be causing this. The bottom oven seems like the thermostat could be the problem, and I’m not sure how complicated that is to replace. And I don’t know if there are any other parts or systems that may be to blame.

My wife recommends calling a repair person, so if I screw this up or electrocute myself, I’m not only dealing with failure but also an unspoken “I told you so.” :stuck_out_tongue:

I fixed our old oven a couple of times, early-internet. It wasn’t too hard once I found a local parts dealer. There wasn’t a good option to replace the thing because it was in the wall, separate from the stovetop and that had gone out of style, otherwise I would have taken the thing out back and shoot it. Sure was glad when we remodeled and got a new, modern range.

I would guess that a number of parts are getting old and not working well and you are just seeing the cumulative effect. Replacing the thermostat might make the problem better but not perfect.

I’ve replaced a few parts on my gas range over the years. I’ve had success with the troubleshooting steps at Fixitnow, although I haven’t purchased parts from them.

Here is their oven page: http://fixitnow.com/wp/2007/12/01/ovenrange-troubleshooting-and-repair-manual/

I doubt it’s the element (they are pretty binary - they either get hot or they don’t), but the element’s pins or the socket they go into could be badly burned, which might explain some of the problems. I would focus on the thermostat first.

We replaced the heating element earlier this year. We got the part online. We found out the exact part number, googled it, and up popped a bunch of places where we could purchase it. We went with the one that seemed most legitimate (which is subjective, I know). It came about a weeks later. We watched a YouTube video on replacing a heating element and went from there. It wasn’t that bad.

You can probably get a feel for how mechanically difficult this will be by going to Sears’ website as they have parts for just about everything and often will have exploded diagrams.

For a thermostat, you’re probably looking at taking off the knobs and control panel, unplugging a few wires and finagling the temperature sensor bulb in and out of the oven cavity. The last time I did this, (on a roughly 40 year old GE) it was easier to pull the oven out of the wall and just pop the bulb in from behind, rather than trying to blindly grope around.

Heating elements are super easy. Usually it’s two screws that attach the bracket to the oven wall, then two screw wiring terminals. Newer ovens with concealed elements are a bit harder mechanically, but it’s still just two wires.

I agree, if the elements heat at all, likely they are OK although the connections may need cleaned.

It you throw the breaker before doing anything else the chances of electrocution are zero. Some things have big, nasty capacitors in them, but not ovens.

Thanks everyone. I’ll give these approaches a try.

And yes, I’ll cut the breaker. Besides, I figure electricity is like snake venom; after a while you build up a tolerance. :smiley: