Friday, September 19, 2008

My Oven's On Fire!

Last weekend, in addition to a dead battery stranding us on the side of the road, we had an oven incident. I preheated the oven while I was mixing up my cookie dough and all of a sudden I saw flashing out of the corner of my eye. The oven was shooting sparks like a roman candle! It wasn't quite on fire, but practically, and I screamed for my husband to come look. Thank goodness it was all contained because it lasted for a full ten seconds and I hate to imagine what kind of damage could have done if it was the stovetop. All the sparking came from one spot, on the baking element. And when the excitement was over, the element was broken in half.

The good news is: this is an easy fix and perfect for a Do It Herself project. I hope this never happens to you, but if it does you can save yourself a bunch of money by fixing it yourself rather than paying for a service call.

The bad news is: my little project turned into a major headache & fiasco due to my own timidness (I swear I was - for once), and circumstances beyond my control.

The best news is: now that you have the benefit of my experience, this project will be quick and easy for you! Hey, what are friends for?

To Start: locate the model number of your oven and find an appliance parts store. There are many online if you are willing to wait for the element to be shipped. I called my favorite appliance store and they recommended a parts store.

My adventure: When I called they parts store they were located 45 minutes away. There is one in my city, but they are in the middle of moving locations. The very nice man at the far location called them for me to find out if they have my element, if they can find it, and where they were, old or new store. So I loaded up the three boys and drove there, unloaded them, and hauled them in the store. It was chaos in there, as new businesses are, but they were great to me and found my part right away.

Beyond my control: their credit card machine wasn't up yet and they could only take cash.

Good news
: the element was only $30.

Bad news: I only had $20. The hour and a half that followed can only be described as bad luck and involved a cancelled debit card (due to bank's compromised numbers), two stores, an ATM, and a bank branch. Needless to say I just left the kids in the car when I finally made it back to get my element. What? I left the car and A/C running and they were parked right in front of the door, 10 feet away with no other parked cars for 50 yards. Fine, I'm a bad mom and had been crying.

The Easy Part: Turn off power to your oven/range by flipping the breaker in your breaker box to the off position. Hopefully you know where your breaker box is and have the switches labeled. But you will know if you got it right because your oven won't work anymore. The digital display and interior light, I mean. Aren't all ovens pretty much digital now?

Remove the oven racks. I also saw in my users manual that the oven door just lifts right off. It took two seconds and was tons easier to reach the back of my oven. The element is attached to the back of the oven with screws, usually hex screws that require a socket to remove. I pulled out my trusty socket set, found a socket that matched the screws, then spent twenty minutes looking for the screwdriver and wrachet that went with it. Lesson learned: keep all your tools together and always put them back in the same place. Do not leave a tool out with a project you are working on that you think you will finish soon. It will be a year later and you will spend time looking for something when you really need it so you can bake cookies!

Once the screws on the element bracket are out, the whole thing will pull out, exposing the wires and electrical connections. Pull them out gently, just far enough to give room to work. According to all the tutorials I found online for replacing your element, you just detach the old element from the wires. This is usually done by unscrewing a small screw, just like the picture above. But not my model. See the picture below, which I zoomed in on as much as possible for you.

My big problem: My old element (and my new) looked just like the illustration above, but there was no screw. I tried to pull it apart gently, but it wouldn't budge. It looked like the metal part at the end of the oven wires were crimped over my element. Bad. You need special tools for stuff like that. I used a screwdriver to try to loosen the round parts. I got a teeny tiny wiggle. I cried some more. I neglected my children while I spent over an hour looking online for this type of connector. A close-up pictures is to the right. Ironically it's called a quick-connect. Hah. I finally called my Dad to ask for help, and he promised to stop by after work. When he finally made it over at 9pm (not his fault) he looked at it and said, "Tara, you just pull them apart." Which he did immediately. I felt like an idiot. I wasn't pulling hard enough because I just didn't know where to pull and was afraid to break something. The connection for the new element slid right in and my Dad was out the door three minutes later. Thanks, Dad!

The lesson for you: pull harder. My Dad used a pair of pliers the hold the connection while he pulled on the old element. Here's a close-up. Place your pliers where the yellow lines are. Pull hard.

The end: Push the wires gently back into the holes, guide the new element into place, and replace the hex screws to secure it. Turn the power back on and test. Replace the door.

How to Replace an Oven Element, the Quick & Easy Steps

1. Get a new element
2. Turn off the power
3. Remove the old element by detaching mounting screws and uncoupling electrical connections.
4. Attach new element.
5. Remount new element.
6. Restore power.

See how easy it could be. It's hard to imagine it could be as adventurous for you as it was for me. But thanks to my Dad, I learned something and still got the project done. The cookies were delicious.

If my enlightening post wasn't enough for you, I found lots of good tutorials online. Check out How Stuff Works, eHow, Home Envy, or Lowes. None of these have the same pizzazz as mine, although the Home Envy one was written by a woman and has a cool story about electrons. Thanks for reading!

Thanks to my big helper, Ro Ro. I pulled his chair right up behind me and he cheered me on very vocally the entire time. If you have young children & want to teach them well, check out my current giveaway.

This post is linked up to Tackle It Tuesday at 5 Minutes for Mom.


Robyn said...

Okay there is a whole church talk in there somewhere!

I'm glad you went ahead and did it yourself. Except for the pulling hard thing. Better safe than sorry. Dad to the rescue. Yay.

Let's hear it for cookies!

Becky said...

Aren't dads great!?! I know for sure yours is. My oven element went out last year but I am a wimp at fixing things, so my husband took care of it. I need you to whip me into shape.

Jennie said...

Wow! I SO admire you! We have a gas oven (and stove) and when the igniter went bad I called a repair service and it was like $250 for 5 minutes work. I want to be like you!

Jane @ What About Mom? said...

Yeah, this is ALMOST enough to make me wish something (easy) would break around here, so I could try my hand at FIXING something.

But, wait, my light in the dining room burnt out, and I don't even want to think about replacing it . . . hmm, maybe I'm really not cut out for all this work.

Nancy said...

hey... saw your blog re the PR comment... you are great.. I passed your site on to friends.. keep up the learning and trying to do it yourself..

earthlingorgeous said...

Wow! You are indeed a wheel rounded woman ! I wouldn't do that myself scared of the accident that might happen I leave it to the experts. Congrats and Great Job!

Shawn, Em, Spencer and Ty said...

Thanks for this post. This is almost 6 months after you posted, but our oven element did this exact thing and I literally typed in "my oven's on fire" and Wah-lah. And I loved your comments of boys and trying to watch conference. We have 2 and tried to keep them entertained while watching today. Thanks for the info! We have a part on order and no more sparks flying in the kitchen.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info! The service guy gave me the steps to do but I was flommoxed by the wire situation. Your photos and advice saved the day and I was able to remove it easily myself with my jewelry making pliers :) My husband will be so proud!