How not to cook...

On Monday we had a bit of a disaster. I'd put the oven on for it to warm up and after a coupe of minutes the circuit it's connected to tripped out and it went off.

OK, no big deal. Reset the breaker turn it back on and all is well.  Except it isn't.  It's a fan assisted oven and while the interior light was on and the fan was whirring away, the oven itself wasn't showing any signs of getting warm. Oh dear. That's not right.  So after a bit of basic elimnation it turns out that the problem is down to the heating element inside the oven, which it would appear has blown. D'oh.

So what to do....  Well I figure I have two choices.  1) Call a man out to come and fix it or 2) Fix it.  I'm not one to shy away from taking on such challenges and in fact I've fixed all manner of things in the past.  One of my more recent "fixes" and one that I'm actually really amazed by was the "Yellow Light Of Death" on a Playstation 3.  For the uninitiated amongst you this is when an expensive sony games console overheats and shuts down never to switch on ever again.

What's happened in this situation is the heatsink attached to the CPU has not done it's job and the chip has overheated and locked. The surprising fix for it, is to heat up the chip and the rest of the board to around 600 degrees centrigrade causing the solder to reflow momentarily and thus unlock the chip.  A dangerous process I'm sure you'd agree.  You;d expect the heating up of the such delicate equipment to be the death of it, but not if you figure out the correct way to do it.  I was out of warranty so I had nothing to loose and it really does work.  I was very pleased with the results. Effectivly it resulted in a brand new PS3. 

If I can do that, I can definetly replace the element in a cooker.  So this is how I progressed.  

Now for the tricky part.  The doing. First job - turn the power off.  Very important this, otherwise you could quite easily die. The cooker had to be removed from the built in units, disassembled to the point where I can get at the element and the correct part number identified.  A little bit of digging online, came up with a supplier of the part in Birmingham, with some in stock at a cost of £24.99. I ordered the part and it arrived the following day.

Next, I removed the back cover of the cooker and removed everything from inside the oven itself.This leaves the element exposed.  

There are 3 cables connected to the element on the rear of the oven and 2 5mm bolts holding it in place.  The cables are connected to the element using "spade" connectors that just pull off.

That scorched area around the cables is just where the heat of the element has browned the cooker insulation. It's NOT fire damage as you may have suspected.  So then it's just a case of removing the two bolts and extracting the element from the front of the oven. This is the sight that awaited me.

As you can see, very worrying.  Clearly the element has failed and in fact the rings have fused together in two places.  I think we were lucky that it tripped out and didn't catch fire, which while a rare occurrence in electrical elements, is a possibility.

Anyway, it's then a simple case of installing the new element in the same place and reconnecting the three cables.  Replace the back, refit the oven into the cupboard and reinstall all the other contents into the oven itself.  Finally, put the doors back on and switch on the power.  

Hey presto. Oven repaired and at least £100 saved.  I would say, if you're not 100% comfortable around electricty and the way that ovens work and the various issues and options around cooker elements, you maybe shouldn't do this yourself. But it's up to you. It's a free world afterall.  Well, actually if you call a man out, it's quite an expensive world.

One final point. You should "burn in" the new element.  Run it up to temperature without anything in the oven.  I've run it up and down three or four times and I'm now happy that all is well, and there shouldn't be any strange fumes or smells when cooking in it....  other than the smell of cooking food of course. Mrs G is happy. I got a gold star!




This post originally appeared here: Posterous


  1. .... Plus you feel like a Domestic Hero too. This is a serious progression from bashing two rocks together to make a fire in a cave. I hope Mrs G was suitably impressed and swooned at your Electrical Magnificence
    Funnily enough we had a similar component failure here at The Pile a couple of months back. Fortunately the cooker had a 3 year warranty on it so we called a man out. Mind you the vile cow at the end of the "Help"desk 'phone line made me wish I'd fixed it myself :-)


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