You switch on your oven to grill some meat but then you notice your oven element sparking. What could be the cause of this and how do you stop it? Could this also be a fire or electric hazard? We’ll dig a little deeper into it in this article.
An oven element starts to spark when the insulation on it breaks down over time due to wear and tear after multiple uses. When this happens, the inner wire becomes exposed and touches the body of the stove. This then causes a short and subsequently the sparks that you see.
It can be scary to witness sparks coming out of your oven. There’s both the possibility of fire and electric shock if you are not careful.
You need o handle it the right way in order to avoid these catastrophic outcomes. To better understand this issue, let’s look at exactly what happens when your oven starts producing sparks.
What Causes My Oven to Spark?
Let’s start by looking at how a heating element works in order to have a clear understanding of the causes of this problem.
The heating element in your oven consists of a metal rod through which an electrical current is passed. The rod is surrounded by insulation and this insulation is surrounded by metal tubing.
When electric current is passed through the rod, the rod heats up. As we all know, when matter is heated, it expands and when it cools it contracts.
When this heating and cooling happens over a long period of time, the heating rod may push through the insulation eventually touching the outer metal tubing.
This happens in situations where the insulation is not compacted properly. The metal tubing in your oven element is grounded through the body of the stove.
When the insulation in your element deteriorates over time, the rod then pushes its way to the outer metal tubing leading to a short. This short is what causes the sparks which you then see.
Another cause of your oven sparking is wrong wiring. You may have to look inside the stove and trace the problem yourself or hire a skilled professional to isolate the problem.
In most cases this process can happen without you even realizing it unless you open the oven or happen to see it through the glass. There are cases when these sparks have welded big holes in cookware.
What Are The Dangers Associated With My Stove Sparking?
What are the risks associated with this happening? Well, I’ve already mentioned one of the problems. If you have cookware like a metal baking tin directly above the spark, it can weld a big hole into the baking tin.
At this point, it’s as good as gone. The spark could also cause some damage to the inner body of the stove if left for too long.
The inside walls of a stove are manufactured to withstand very high temperatures but concentrated focus from the electric spark could lead t to damage on the inner walls of your oven.
This situation presents two other risks worth mentioning here. The first risk is a fire hazard. The spark, if not attended to or if the fuse does not trip the switch, there is a high possibility of a fire starting. Another risk you can face is electrocution. If you stove is not earthed properly, you could get electrocuted.
What to Do When Your Oven Starts Sparking
Here are the recommended steps once you see that your oven is sparking. Immediately switch off the stove right at the mains.
Do not try and turn the knobs on the stove. Once your oven’s heating element starts sparking, there is no more redemption for it.
You need to buy a new one and have the old one replaced. If you are a technically inclined, you can replace the element yourself. On the other hand, if you are not confident in your technical skills, you need to hire a professional to replace the element for you.
What Not to Do When Oven Starts Sparking
When our oven starts sparking, you need to make sure that you avoid the following things:
Try and Put Out the Spark or Flame While Oven is Still On
As already mentioned, make sure that you switch the stove off right at the mains before dealing with the flame or touch the oven.
Switching off the mains before putting out the spark kills it at source. The electricity is what’s feeding the spark and when you cut that out completely, you cut off the spark.
The problem is that a lot of people panic when they find themselves in this situation and end up using dangerous means to put it out which takes us to our next point.
Put out the Fire or Spark With Water
Never, ever try and put out an electric fire with water. This is really dangerous and could lead to a worse fire or possible electric shock.
Water is also a conductor of electricity and will help spread the fire onto other flammable material in the room and compounding the situation. If, however, a full on fire has started, you will need to put it out in the safest way possible.
When this happens, you need to put the fire out with a fire extinguisher. Not all fire extinguishers are created equal though.
There are different classes of extinguishers and you need to make sure that you have the right one at hand before the need arises.
Class A extinguishers are used to put out fire on plastics, paper and wood. Class B fire extinguishers are used for burning liquids like oil or gasoline.
Type C extinguishers are used for putting our electric fires. There’s also a fourth class of extinguishers marked A, B and C. These types of extinguishers can put out all types of fires.
In the kitchen environment, you will be dealing with different types of fires so the fourth class of extinguisher (A,B and C) is recommended. Some fire extinguishers will be written K and these will work as well.
Pull on the Heating Element While Switched On
This is another, no-no. You run the risk of burning your hand and also getting electrocuted. Switch off the oven at the mains first.
Other Ways of Putting Out an Oven Fire
If you don’t have a fire extinguisher handy, what are some things that you can do to stop an oven fire? Simply closing the oven door will deprive the fire of oxygen and kill it if it hasn’t become too big to do so.
Another thing you can do is throw baking soda on the fire. This will kill it. Always remember to do this in conjunction with switching off the electrical mains.
Conclusion on oven heating element sparking
So, you now know the reason why your oven is sparking and I have given you a number of ways to remedy this. Make sure that you take the utmost care when dealing with any form of electrical fault to protect yourself as well as those in close proximity to you. Getting a A,B,C type fire extinguisher is essential for your kitchen. You should always be prepared because you never know when you’ll need it.