If you have cooked the same food, the same way, and on the same temperature dozens of times, but suddenly it starts coming out of your oven over or undercooked, then your oven has a problem. Inaccurate oven temperatures can manifest at any time, but whenever it does happen, it means there is a problem in there that will need to be addressed. Uneven or inaccurate oven temperature is one of the most common complaints when it comes to ovens, but while there can be different causes, they are all fairly simple to diagnose and fix.
Checking for Inaccurate Temperature
If you believe that the display on your oven is lying to you about the temperature, it can easily be checked. You simply need to put an oven-safe thermometer into your oven on a cook cycle and check its reading. If it doesn’t match up with the temperature set, then your oven temperature is inaccurate.
After confirming the temperature is uneven, now begins the time where you will want to diagnose the problem.
Causes for Uneven Oven Temperature
An inaccurate temperature can be caused by everything from a problem with the temperature sensors to the heating elements in your oven. However, potential issues come with symptoms, and sometimes even a visual inspection can help you find the specific problem so you can fix it quickly.
In the case of gas ovens, you could have a problem with the igniters. Dirty or malfunctioning igniters may be slower to ignite or not ignite at all. This means the temperature of the oven is allowed to drop well below what it should be before the igniters reignite to stabilize the temperature. Alternatively, your oven temperature could be too high if a malfunctioning igniter is not shutting off correctly.
If you have dirty igniters, you will hear the small but distinct “boom” sound of gas build up igniting in your over when they turn on. This can be fixed with a simple cleaning.
For electric ovens, the uneven temperature can often span from a faulty bake element. It is important to remember that they have two bake elements, one above and one below. You should check both with a visual test to look for cracks or blistering. If you cannot see any obvious signs of wear, allow the oven to heat up. The elements should glow red, if they do not, they are faulty. Your bake element can also be tested for continuity if the visual tests fail.
Temperature Control Thermostat
The thermostat in your oven monitors the internal temperature. Ideally, when the temperature gets too low, it will turn on the heating elements to stabilize it. However, if this is the problem, it may not always be broken. The thermostat could not be calibrated correctly, causing the oven to kick on too soon or too late. This means this part may not always need to be replaced but rather recalibrated.
Part of your oven’s thermometer is the temperature sensor. This piece is a little metal bar that extends into your oven and takes readings of the temperature inside. It will send those readings back to the thermometer and the control board so the oven will know when to turn on and off the heat. Like the thermometer, this piece can also fall out of calibration as well as go faulty. You may also want to check to see if it is damaged. Sometimes it can get bumped and may even end up touching the sides of your oven, leading to incorrect temperature readings.
It is important that if the sensor is bent or damaged that you replace it. Trying to bend the sensor back is unlikely to fix the issue and more likely to cause more damage to it instead.