When it comes to stove problems, you can expect there might come a day in the future where you turn it on, and the coils produce no heat at all. However, electric cooktops can also have the exact opposite problem as well – they get too hot instead.
An electric coil getting too hot doesn’t immediately seem like a problem. It will boil your water super fast. However, it makes doing delicate cooking like reducing sauce or cooking meat through without burning the exterior near impossible. You can definitely forget about turning the burner to low to keep food warm before serving as well. You never remember how precious temperature control is until you can no longer do it.
While a burner being too hot can be caused by a malfunctioning part in your cooktop, there are also potential contributing factors as well. These factors may not immediately require a repair, just some readjustments so they should always be checked first.
Before Repairing an Electric Cooktop That Overheats, Check These
There are a few unique and rather innocent things that can cause an electric stove to seem like it is overheating or getting too hot even when you turn the temperature down. So before you call that repair technician out or start shopping for replacement parts, be sure to check the following.
There is a reason that cooktops come with at least two different sizes of coils. This is because the pan you are using should not be over an inch larger than the coil it sits on. It affects how evenly the pan heats with the edges not getting quite hot enough. However, an often unanticipated problem is that the overhang created by the pan actually traps heat around the coil beneath it. This causes it to get hotter even after the coil cycles off to cool down in order to maintain the correct temperature.
Wrapped Drip Pans
There is a bit of a tall tale going around that if you wrap your drip pans in aluminum foil, it will make for a more energy-efficient electric cooktop. More believably, your drip pans will be kept cleaner as well when you do this. However, there is some truth to this rumor. Aluminum foil will reflect some of that heat from the coils. However, it won’t make your electric cooktop more energy efficient. What it will do is make it so you can’t accurately adjust the temperature on your stove. The temperature will always be hotter than what it is set to, which can make precise cooking difficult without a lot of burned food first.
If only one burner seems too hot sometimes, it is likely the burner that features the oven vent. When the oven is on, the burner will be hotter. The heat is usually not that much higher unless the oven vent is not adjusted properly, however. So if it seems wildly too hot when the oven is on, let your appliance cool down and cross-check with your owner’s manual to make sure the vent is open in the right position.
What Goes Wrong When an Electric Cooktop Coil Overheats
The above are all pretty reasonable explanations for a cooktop burner that is too hot. However, if you adjust the knob down to low and your electric cooktop burner is still blazing red like it is on high, then you do actually have a repair to make.
Ideally, when you turn an electric burner from high to a lower temperature, the electricity is actually cut to the coil. The cooktop will then sense when it has reached the desired temperature and turn the coil back on to maintain it. The coil will then cycle that electricity periodically to maintain the temperature.
What goes wrong when an electric cooktop coil stays on that high temperature is that the flow of electricity isn’t getting cycled properly. When this happens, it is usually because the infinite switch, the part that controls the flow of electricity to the coil, is malfunctioning.
How to Replace an Infinite Switch
While replacing an infinite switch isn’t the most difficult repair you can undertake, it is a sort of complex one. If you don’t feel comfortable attempting it yourself, you are advised to contact a skilled appliance repair company.
Before beginning your repair, you will want to shut off the electricity to your cooktop from the circuit breaker for your safety. In order to reach the infinite switch, you will need to access the area under the control knobs. This can vary depending on if your cooktop is a range or a built-in. For both models, usually, you will just have to locate screws to unthread, pull the knobs off the control panel, unthread the screws located there, and lift it up.
The infinite switch on your electric cooktop is actually the shaft that the control knobs were attached to. You simply need to push the shaft down out of its alcove. Now you will want to make a note of how the wires are attached to it. Once done, you can remove those wires. Your infinite switch may also come with a rubber buffer that is nested between the stove and the infinite switch. Some replacements will come with that as a replacement as well, and some may not. So it is best to hold onto it just in case.
With your replacement infinite switch in hand, all you need to do is to reattach the wires in the correct order and reinsert the drive shaft. Once the stove is in the proper position again, you can reinstall the knob and give it a test.
If you test your electric cooktop coil and it is still not cooling down correctly given an appropriate amount of time, you may want to look at the coil itself as the cause. It is not common that a faulty coil will cause this issue, but it can happen and it should be considered if the infinite switch checks out.