Making holiday cooking worry-free: 5 tips to help your oven perform like new

Oven igniterEvery year thousands of holiday meals are needlessly stressful because of unidentified problems with the oven; from incorrect temperatures, to uneven cooking. Most common problems with an oven can be easily fixed by the owner at a minimal cost. Taking the time now for preventative maintenance can help ensure the only thing you have to worry about with holiday cooking is if you remembered the cranberry sauce!


If your oven temperature is off, the most likely cause is a bad oven sensor. The sensor is mounted to the back wall inside the oven cavity and looks like a metal rod about 3-6 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Replacing the sensor is easy. Two screws hold it to the back wall and there is a quick disconnect harness plug on the other side. Make sure not to lose the other end of the harness behind the wall. Another possible cause is the oven control board – a simple but somewhat more expensive repair.

This typically happens due to a weak oven igniter. The igniter comes on several times during the baking cycle to fire up the oven burner. If the igniter is too weak, it won’t start up every time. Replacing an oven igniter is simple and inexpensive. A new oven igniter typically costs around $40-$50 and usually takes about 15-30 minutes to replace.

This is not so much a technical problem and usually occurs when people fail to properly preheat the oven prior to baking. Check your oven use and care manual for instructions on how to preheat your oven.

TIP: After your oven tells you it is done preheating, let it preheat for another 5 to 7 minutes. Here’s why: The oven sensor heats up and signals the oven to shut off the preheat cycle. The oven inner walls however are still not hot enough and will keep on absorbing the heat, thus lowering the temperature inside the oven. By preheating the oven for an extra 5 minutes you will help keep the heat inside the oven nice and even.

Error codes help identify the problem, which of course makes the repair easier. The F3 code, for example, usually means the oven sensor is bad. For a comprehensive list of error codes and their explanation visit our Error Code Guide.

Most Whirlpool and KitchenAid oven models made within the past ten years or so incorporate a thermal fuse, located on the back wall of the oven. When the fuse fails, the oven control board will continue to function and will even let you turn on the bake cycle. Of course, the oven itself won’t function at all. The fuse is inexpensive; however this repair usually requires removing the oven from the cabinet which is not a simple task.

TIP: Do not use the self cleaning cycle on or before a major holiday like Thanksgiving. The oven may overheat and damage a key component such as the fuse or the main control board.

If you have a GE oven displaying an F7 code, this usually indicates that the touch pad, also called membrane switch, is bad and needs to be replaced. Replacing the touch pad is pretty straight forward and normally takes about 30 minutes or less.
For more information and repair tips visit the experts at the Appliance Parts Pros Repair Forum.

Preventative maintenance is not only easy to do, but can mean the difference between an expensive service call and a wonderful holiday dinner.

* Always disconnect power and turn off gas to the appliance before attempting any repairs.

Do you have a Thanksgiving cooking horror story to share? Let us know in the Forum!

Next in the series: Tips for keeping your refrigerator cool


About author:
Roman Kagan is the CEO of Established in 1999, offers home appliance parts and accessories to homeowners and do-it-yourselfers. Customers can get assistance with appliance repair troubleshooting at no charge through the comprehensive repair forum. was recently named as one of the “Best of the Web Top 50 Retail Sites” for 2007 by Internet Retailer and is a BizRate “Circle of Excellence” Platinum e-tailer.

5 Responses to “Making holiday cooking worry-free: 5 tips to help your oven perform like new”

  1. […] The holidays are a wonderful time to reconnect with friends and family, but they can also be needlessly stressful due to unidentified problems with the oven; from incorrect temperatures, to uneven cooking. This does not need to be the case with some easy preventative maintenance. Taking the time now can mean the difference between an expensive service call, and a wonderful holiday dinner. For expert tips, take a look at our previous post – Making holiday cooking worry-free: 5 tips to help your oven perform like new. […]

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