The Top Causes of Oven Temperature Issues

By Lyle Weischwill | Jan. 30, 2024 5:57 am PST

Top causes of oven temperature issues image

Finding out what’s causing your oven to heat unevenly or inaccurately is a top priority when cakes, cookies, pies or other baked goods get ruined. We’re here to help.

Here are the top causes of oven temperature issues:

  • Control thermostat needs calibration.
  • Oven door seal needs replacing.
  • Faulty temperature sensor or thermostat.
  • Heating element problems.
  • Gas oven igniter issues.
  • Electronic control board failure.
  • Oven door hinge problems.

The following expert tips will help you check these common causes of oven heating problems so you can fix the problem yourself or schedule repair service and have our Sears Home Services Technician fix the oven.

Oven Control Thermostat Needs Calibration

Fixing an oven temperature issue can sometimes be as easy as adjusting or calibrating the oven control. Over time, the temperature setting on your oven can drift away from the factory setting. The temperature settings on your oven might not match the actual temperature inside.

Then you’ll find that your oven consistently bakes or roasts food faster or slower than the time specified in the recipe. Fortunately, you can recalibrate your oven to get it closer to the original setting.

First, Find the Oven’s Average Temperature

To know how much to adjust the temperature, it helps to know exactly how far off your oven’s actual average temperature is from the temperature you set.

  1. Put an oven thermometer on the middle rack and set the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Let the oven preheat and then wait at least 10 minutes more for the temperature to level out from the preheating temperature spike.
  3. Then check the reading on the oven thermometer through the oven window. Record the oven temperature.
  4. Wait 2 minutes and record a second oven temperature reading from the thermometer.
  5. Check the oven temperature 3 more times because oven temperature rises and falls constantly throughout the baking cycle.
  6. Find the average of your 5 temperature readings: (T1 + T2 + T3 + T4 + T5)/5 = ACTUAL AVERAGE TEMPERATURE.

Now that you’ve accurately measured actual average temperature, you’ll know how much to adjust the control during calibration.

Image of homeowner calibrating the oven temperature control

Set the Temperature Control Offset to Make Up for the Difference

The difference between 350 degrees and the average temperature you measured is the offset you’ll use to recalibrate the oven. For example, if the average was 330 degrees, the offset is -20 degrees; if the average was 380 degrees, the offset is +30 degrees.

You can recalibrate most ovens by about 35 degrees in either direction. If the average temperature off by more than 35 degrees, you might need to replace the temperature sensor or replace the thermostat.

Here are instructions for recalibrating some common types of ovens. The exact steps vary by manufacturer, so check your owner’s manual for instructions for your model. You can find the manual by searching for your model number in the search box at the top of the page.

Oven with push-button controls

  1. Press the BAKE button just until the temperature displays the current offset setting—usually 0 or 00, unless you recalibrated the oven previously. (On some ovens, it’s the TIME/TEMP button instead).
  2. Use the arrow keys to increase or decrease the offset to make up the difference between the average you found and 350 degrees F.
  3. Press the BAKE button to finish or CANCEL to exit without saving.

Oven with knob controls

  1. Pull off the TEMP knob. On the back of the knob is a small adjustment screw in a track labeled Cooler at one end and Hotter at the other.
  2. Loosen the screw just enough that you can move it.
  3. Move the screw toward Cooler if the oven overcooks or Hotter if it undercooks. Each audible click is about 10 degrees F.
  4. Tighten the screw and replace the knob. Repeat the process for checking the actual average temperature to see if you need to adjust the screw again.

Check actual oven temperature again after completing the control calibration and make additional adjustments if necessary.

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Oven Door Seal Needs Replacing

When you notice heat escaping through the oven door, uneven cooking or your oven takes a long time to preheat, check the oven door seal because a damaged seal will cause these types of problems.

The door seal is a cloth or mesh seal attached around the edge of the oven door or around the opening to the oven cavity. When you find the oven door seal damaged, replace it by following these steps.

  1. Allow the oven to cool completely.
  2. Remove the old oven door seal. The gasket is attached around the door or oven cavity opening using metal clips that are pushed into mounting holes. Starting on one end of the door seal, carefully pull the seal off using pliers and the screwdriver if necessary.
  3. Clean grease and food residue off the surface that was under the door seal using the soapy water and cleaning cloth. Also, clean the sealing surface opposite of the door seal on the oven door or the opening to the oven. Rinse the surfaces with a cloth moistened with plain water then dry the surfaces.
  4. Install the new door seal. Starting at one end of the seal, insert the mounting clip in the hole and work your way around to the other end to install the door seal. The ends of the door seal tuck into large holes at the bottom of the door or oven cavity opening on some models. Tuck the ends of the door seal into the holes if necessary using the pliers.

You may find that the new door seal keeps the door from shutting completely at first. The new door seal will become more flexible with use.

If you have a self-cleaning oven with a door lock and child lock, you can lock the oven door shut overnight to compress the new door seal quicker. Follow the directions in the owner’s manual for locking the oven door.

Faulty Oven Temperature Sensor or Thermostat

When oven temperature is off by more than 50 degrees and you’re unable to use oven control calibration to resolve the offset, you’ll likely need to replace a faulty oven temperature sensor or oven control thermostat.

Oven Temperature Sensor

The oven temperature sensor helps the control regulate the oven temperature by sending signals to the control board. If it’s not working correctly, the oven won’t heat accurately.

Follow the steps in this DIY video to replace a faulty oven temperature sensor:

Oven Control Thermostat

The oven control thermostat is a switch in the control panel that lets you set the oven heat. If the oven control thermostat’s temperature sensor fails, the temperature in the oven will be too hot or not hot enough.

Replace the oven control thermostat using the steps in this repair guide: How to replace an oven control thermostat.

If you’re unable to replace the oven control thermostat or oven temperature sensor on your own, schedule service and we’ll have a Sears Home Services Technician visit your home and repair the oven.

Heating Element Problems

Both baking and broiling elements play a crucial role in maintaining the oven temperature. If any of them are faulty, the oven won’t heat properly.

Replace a bad bake element by following the steps shown in this video:

Follow the steps in this video to replace a bad broil element: Replacing an Electric Oven Broil Element Video.

Gas Oven Igniter Issues

In a gas oven, a weak igniter is a common cause for heating problems. The oven may initially heat up but not continue to ignite properly after the burner cycles off to maintain the set temperature. Follow the DIY tips in our Troubleshooting Gas Oven Problems Video to fix the problem yourself or schedule service to have our Sears Home Services Technician repair the oven.

Electronic Control Board Failure

The electronic control board manages various oven functions, including temperature regulation. Malfunctions in the control board can lead to temperature inconsistencies. Because the control board is typically an expensive part and it’s hard to test on your own, it’s best to have a service technician examine the control board and replace it if it’s defective.

Oven Door Hinge Problems

Bent or damaged door hinges prevent your oven door from closing all the way. Oven door hinges often get damaged by leaning or putting excessive weight down on the oven door when it’s fully open. When the oven door won’t close, heat leaks quickly out of the gap and causes uneven heating.

Our Why Your Oven Door Won’t Close all the Way article provides some repair help and troubleshooting tips for fixing an oven door that won’t close properly.

Of course, our Sears Home Services Technicians can also fix this problem for you.

Image of Sears Home Services Technician maintaining the oven

Preventing Oven Temperature Issues

The best way to prevent oven temperature issues from occurring is to have your oven or range professionally maintained every year by Sears Home Services. During oven maintenance, the technician will check and adjust the temperature controls, door hinges and door seal to make sure everything is in top shape and working properly.

To keep all of your home appliances in top shape and operating properly, save time and money by scheduling our Kitchen & Laundry Cleaning and Maintenance Bundle. Our Sears Home Services Technician will visit your home and service all of your home appliances in one convenient visit.

Regular maintenance of your kitchen and laundry appliances can help prevent costly breakdowns, reduce energy costs and extend the life of your home appliances. That way, you can relax and enjoy your home with the peace of mind that everything is covered.

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