Last Updated on February 16, 2023 by Claire
Nothing is as satisfying as turning on the oven to make your favorite grilled chicken with no problems. But there are times when you turn on your oven and you notice that the oven heating element sparks. The sparks can be risky and an indication of a major problem, but don’t panic. This guide will help to find out why your oven heating element is sparking, the causes, fixes, and replacement costs.
Oven heating element sparks: what causes it
If your oven heating element sparks, turn off the power and get a replacement heating element—don’t use the oven without fixing it to avoid a fire.
Over time, the heat produced by the element “eats up” the insulation. This inevitably leads to the heating element coming into contact with the thin metal tube surrounding it, which results in those electrical sparks you see in the oven.
You don’t need to panic when you come across this problem, simply unplug your oven (cautiously), clean it up, replace the heating element with a new one, and your oven is back in business.
Here are the most common causes of sparks from oven heating elements:
Overheating or damaged elements
The first cause of an oven element sparking is that the element has reached temperatures it’s not capable of handling (overheated) or it has been damaged.
As discussed earlier, the oven heating element is a piece of wire that creates heat when electric current flows through it. This “wire” is surrounded by a little insulation and a thin metal tube with high electrical resistance.
When electrical currents run through these high-resistance materials, they build up a huge amount of heat that is circulated throughout your oven compartment.
Over time, the heat produced by the element degrades the insulation; leading to the heating element coming into direct contact with the oven’s other metal parts.
This is what causes those electrical sparks you see in the oven compartment before the oven stops working totally.
Some reasons why oven heating elements overheat (or even smoke) or get damaged:
- A bad temperature sensor can’t detect unusually high temperatures, which means it won’t turn off the oven to protect it from overheating.
- A malfunctioning thermostat will indicate a higher temperature range to the oven control board than the one you set it to.
- A faulty main control board may cause the heating element to run even when it shouldn’t run.
Wrong wiring or loose connections
Another cause of your oven heating element sparking is wrong wiring or loose connections.
In other words, a loose electrical connection between the oven’s heating element and its power supply causes high resistance, making it difficult for electrical currents to run through easily.
This causes the heating element to undergo extremely rapid temperature increase that can lead to sparks, electrical fires, and other hazards.
To tackle this problem, you need to inspect the electrical connections in your oven and clean them with a brush.
Or, call an expert who can look into it for you because there are a lot of times when you simply can’t tell what’s wrong even when it’s right in front of you.
Exposed electrical wires
Lastly, exposed electrical wires can cause oven heating elements to spark and also put users at risk of being electrocuted.
This problem is more pronounced when the exposed or loosely fitted heating element’s receptacle (i.e. the part where the heating element plugs into), is exposed to hot air.
When the receptacle wiring is exposed to hot air, the electrical current running through them will create an electric arc that latches onto any metal parts in close proximity (such as the heating element).
The electric arc causes the hot air around it to rapidly expand, which results in sparks from your oven heating element.
Similar to wrong wiring or loose connections, tackling exposed electrical wires means you need to inspect the electrical connections in your oven.
Remember, the first thing is to turn off the oven and allow it to cool down completely. Or, call an expert to look into it for you.
What is an oven heating element?
According to a repair technician, the oven heating element is a piece of wire that creates heat when an electric current runs through it.
This “wire” is surrounded by a little insulation and a thin metal tube that is connected to the oven’s frame (which is usually connected to the electrical “ground” in proper oven installations).
How to fix oven heating element sparks
Here’s a brief guide on how to fix oven heating element sparks:
- Turn off the electric oven at the mains
- Do not touch the electric oven immediately: Instead, leave it to cool down completely for about an hour. This should be enough time to make sure all the metal parts are completely cool to the touch.
- Although there are plenty of DIY’s out there talking about how to inspect the wiring in your oven for damage and carry out any repairs, I recommend calling an expert to avoid any problems further down the road
- Even if you are technically inclined, do not attempt to repair or “get some use” out of a damaged heating element. You need to buy a new oven heating element to replace the old one.
Replacement costs for an electric oven heating element
Typically, electric oven heating elements will cost between $18- $30. Per Angi, expect between $150 and $400 (that includes the labor cost).
However, the total cost to replace an electric oven heating element depends on your oven’s brand, and model, and also if you have to hire a technician to replace it for you.
But, you can save a bit of money if you are technically inclined to carry out this fix yourself.
Are all oven heating elements the same?
No, all oven heating elements are not the same.
Oven heating elements are available in various shapes and sizes and with different types of connectors.
Although it’s common for different oven models from the same brand to use the same heating elements, you need to be sure that the heating element you’re buying is compatible with your oven.
How do I know if my oven heating element is bad?
Here are 4 signs your oven heating element is going bad:
- If the heating element does not give off a bright orange glow evenly
- If the heating element shows signs of wear such as blisters, breaks, or holes.
- Food is partially cooked or doesn’t cook at all.
- Your oven takes a longer time to cook the same amount of food. For example, you need 10 minutes to grill the same amount of meat you usually grill in 5 minutes.
You need to know the signs above to avoid the potential dangers associated with oven heating element sparks, which include the following:
a. Fire hazard
If you don’t attend to the sparks on time, there’s a high risk of an electrical fire starting since the oven is still turned on at the mains.
If your oven is not properly “grounded” you could get electrocuted when exposed electrical wires come into contact with other metal parts of the oven.
c. Completely damage your oven
Oven heating element sparks can cause various types of damage to your oven or damage it completely.
Read also: think toaster oven for microwave substitute
Can an oven element catch fire?
The heating element in your electric oven can explode. Understand that these are not ‘explosions’ in the actual sense of it. Instead, your oven heating element ‘explodes’ with a loud bang and bright sparks inside your oven, possibly due to overheating metal parts, electrical faults, fast “moving” hot air, and others.
How long do oven heating elements last?
The average lifespan of an oven heating element is about 5 years. However, this depends on the quality of your oven, its maintenance, and how much it is used.
Why is my oven heating element sparking?
An oven heating element sparking is simply a sign that something is wrong with your oven or the heating element is damaged. Some common reasons for this might be an overheating element, wrong wiring, loose connections, exposed wires, or even an oven that’s too hot.
Why did my oven element catch fire?
Your oven element can catch fire because faults in the oven’s electrical components can lead to sparks that can latch onto flammable materials inside or around the oven thereby causing an electrical fire. This is more pronounced due to the fact that electric ovens stay plugged in most of the time.
Read also: why microwave-safe is diff. from oven-safe
Sparks from your oven heating elements simply denote a fault with any of the electrical components in the oven that has caused damage to the heating element or a faulty heating element.
Taking a great deal of caution when you notice sparks coming from your oven compartment cannot be overemphasized. Turn off the oven at the mains and do not attempt to use it until it is fixed, or else you might be at risk of electrocution or worse a fire hazard.
Replacing an oven heating element is relatively affordable and doesn’t take up a lot of time. You may call an expert or attempt the repair yourself if you are technically inclined.