Many people prefer electric ovens over ones that use gas for safety reasons. Yes, in many ways, electric ovens are safer than gas ones. Yet, it’s still possible for the heating element in an electric oven to explode.
When the heating element in an electric oven explodes, you’ll find that there are four likely reasons. First, overheating heating elements, loose connections, and exposed receptacle wires can cause the element to explode. Besides that, elements that experience excess damage or wear can also explode inside the oven compartment.
You should never take an exploding heating element lightly, even though the appliance doesn’t rely on gas. So, keep reading to understand what causes this problem and what you can do to resolve it.
Can An Electric Oven Heating Element Explode?
Yes, the heating element in your electric oven can explode.
However, it’s essential to understand that the ‘explosions’ happening here are not the kind you might be imagining, like an explosion caused by igniting gas.
Instead, your heating element suffers explosions due to electrical faults, overheating metal parts, and rapidly expanding hot air. All three of those reasons will cause explosions in the form of loud bangs and bright sparks inside your oven compartment.
Here are the most likely reasons why your electric oven heating elements are exploding:
The first reason for an exploding element is that the one in your oven has overheated far beyond what the element can sustain.
You see, the heating element consists of a wire, ribbon, or strip with high electrical resistance. As electricity flows through those high-resistance materials, they’ll generate plenty of heat that distributes throughout your oven compartment.
Those high-resistance materials can be hazardous since lots of electricity flows through them. So, they’re housed inside an outer sheath that ensures the material doesn’t come into direct contact with your fingers or the oven’s other metal parts.
Unfortunately, several faults can cause those elements to overheat well beyond any temperature that the metal sheath can sustain. After reaching a specific temperature, the sheath can suffer damage or even break with an explosive bang and lots of sparks before the appliance stops working entirely.
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An overheating oven heating element will happen because of:
- A faulty thermostat incorrectly communicates a higher temperature to the oven than the one you’ve set.
- A stuck relay on the main control board causes the heating element to run even when it shouldn’t.
- A failed temperature sensor doesn’t detect excessive temperatures and therefore doesn’t shut off the oven to protect it from overheating.
To fix this problem, you’ll have to diagnose and identify the root cause. Once you’ve fixed the root cause, you can install a new heating element, and rest assured that it won’t explode as the last one did.
Another reason you’ll get exploding heating elements in your electric oven is because of loose connections. In particular, we’re talking about a loose electrical connection between the oven’s power supply and the heating element itself.
When the heating element is connected firmly to its power source, electricity has no problems flowing through. However, a loose electrical connection suddenly causes high resistance, making it incredibly difficult for that power to flow smoothly.
As a result, you’ll get a situation where the temperature at those connections rises dramatically. That will lead to an electrical fire and explosion, among many other dangerous outcomes.
If you suspect loose connections in the oven, shut the appliance off entirely and let it cool down for an hour.
Then, remove the heating element so you can inspect its connections. Some dirt or debris may have formed around the connections, preventing you from pushing it in all the way. Clean them off with a brush as best as you can.
Then, push the heating element connections back into place firmly before testing them again.t
Exposed Receptacle Wires
Exposed electrical wires don’t just put you at risk of electrocution, but they can also cause your oven heating element to explode. Inside your oven compartment, the problem could be with the wiring to the heating element’s receptacle (i.e., the part where the heating element plugs into).
Remember: electrical explosions happen because of rapid heating and expansion of air. The situation is made even worse because that air is trapped inside your oven’s compartment.
When the receptacle wiring is exposed to the air, the electricity flowing through them can create an electric arc and jump to nearby metal parts, such as the heating element. That arc will cause the air around it to rapidly expand, leading to an electrical blast.
Typically, the wiring will come loose if something pulls on it or it isn’t attached tightly. That’s especially true if you or someone else has been repairing the oven recently.
When troubleshooting this issue, always remember to shut the oven off and let it cool down completely. That process typically takes an hour before the metal parts are cool enough for you to touch them.
In this case, you can purchase an electric oven element receptacle kit to fix this problem, as it comes with new wiring.
Damaged Heating Element
Last but not least, the root cause of the problem could be that the heating element itself has suffered damage.
For example, most heating elements will suffer from corrosion or excessive wear after being in use for many years. Remember, the outer layer of the element is metal, and metal naturally rusts over time.
Besides that, heating elements also expand and contract every time you turn the oven on. All of that repetitive expansion and contraction will eventually cause visible damage to the heating element in the form of holes, cracks, and breaks, among others.
Unfortunately, a heating element that suffers enough damage can eventually expose the electrical wiring inside it. A short circuit can occur between the wire and the metallic parts outside when that happens.
That short circuit produces sparks and loud bangs that you’ll see as an explosion inside your oven compartment. Besides that, remember that electrical arcs heat the air rapidly, which leads to electrical fires and explosions.
As we’ve seen before, you can fix a heating element issue by replacing the part entirely. Unfortunately, you can’t repair heating elements, so a more practical solution is to purchase a new one. Be sure to choose one that’s compatible with your oven brand and model.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are some other frequently asked questions you might have about your exploding oven heating element:
How Do I Know If My Oven Heating Element Is Bad?
There are two general ways you can check your heating element. Firstly, you can visually inspect to look for blisters, breaks, or holes. Secondly, you can test the heating element while the oven is on. The element should be glowing brightly and evenly. If there are hot spots or parts that don’t burn as brightly as the rest, that means the element is going bad.
How Much Is A Heating Element For An Electric Oven?
Typically, an electric oven heating element will cost between $20 and $25. The exact price will depend on your oven brand and model. You’ll also have to pay more for labor if you’re hiring a technician to replace it for you. If not, the task is straightforward enough for you by yourself at home.
Are All Oven Heating Elements Universal?
No, oven heating elements are not universal. They come in several different shapes, sizes and with varying types of connectors. Different oven models from the same brand will use the same heating elements in some cases. Always check that the element you’re buying is compatible with your oven, whatever the case might be.
Can An Electric Oven Catch Fire?
Yes, an electric oven can catch fire. That’s because faults in the oven’s components can lead to electrical fires that catch onto flammable materials inside or around the oven.
Can An Electric Oven Explode?
Yes, electric ovens can explode even though they don’t use gas. That’s because exposed wires, electrical arcs, and loose connectors can cause the air to heat and expand extremely fast. That process will cause electrical explosions that can cause injuries to you and damage to the oven.