Electric Cooktop Repair

This Fix-It Guide on electric cooktop repair tells how an electric cooktop on an electric range works, what often goes wrong, how to identify an electric cooktop problem, and what parts and tools you will need to fix it. It then gives simple step-by-step instructions for how to check a plug-in burner element, how to check and replace a wired electrical burner, how to test an electrical cooktop burner switch, how to change an accessory fuse, how to replace a malfunctioning clock/timer, and how to test and replace a faulty electric cooktop control-panel receptacle. This guide also refers to other Fix-It Guides for electrical cord repair and electrical receptacle repair. You can also refer to the Gas Cooktop Fix-It Guide, the Electric Oven Fix-It Guide, and the Gas Oven Fix-It Guide.

How Does an Electric Cooktop Work?

An electric cooktop is a cooking appliance that uses surface heating elements powered by electricity. The heating elements are controlled by switches that regulate the electric current reaching the heating elements. An electric cooktop operates on a 240/120-volt circuit–240 volts for the heating elements and 120 volts for the clock, light, and other accessories. An electric cooktop may be part of a large appliance called an electric range or stove that also includes an electric oven. The control system for an electric cooktop may include a motorized timer and lots of dials, or it may be all digital.

Refer to the Electric Oven Fix-It Guide for an illustration of a typical electric cooktop and components.

What Can Go Wrong with an Electric Cooktop?

Electric cooktops last a long time, but they can eventually fail. Elements can burn out. Switches and burner receptacles can fail. The control panel fuse, timer/clock, and electrical receptacle can fail.

How Can I Identify an Electric Cooktop Problem?

  • If nothing on the range comes on, check the electrical service panel and test the electrical cord.
  • If a surface element does not heat, first disconnect power to the range, then push the terminals of the element securely into the receptacle. If that does not cure the problem, check the element (see below); and test the switch (see below).
  • If accessories on the control panel fail, you can replace them (see below).

Caution!

Don’t use foil to line the drip pans under the burners because it can short out electrical connections. Nor should you use burners without drip pans because cooking grease can damage wiring.

What Do I Need for Electric Cooktop Repair?

Replacement parts are available from the manufacturer and aftermarket suppliers and from major appliance parts stores. The tools you will need to fix an electric cooktop include these:

  • Screwdrivers
  • Wire caps
  • Multimeter

What Are the Steps to Electric Cooktop Repair?

Fix-It Tip

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of problems. Keeping a cooktop clean is an effective way of preventing problems.

Check an electric cooktop plug-in burner element:

  1. Unplug the range or disconnect power at the electrical service panel.
  2. Remove the heating element from its receptacle. Inspect it for burns or holes in the element and replace it if it appears damaged. Clean corroded terminals with fine steel wool.
  3. Test the element by plugging it into a working receptacle on the range. Turn power back on. If the element still does not heat, replace it.
  4. If the element heated in a different receptacle, you will need to test the nonworking element.
  5. Disconnect power to the range before continuing.
  6. Trace the wires from the burner’s receptacle to the two corresponding terminals on the burner switch.
  7. Set a multimeter to RX1 (resistance times 1) and clip one probe to one of the corresponding terminals on the burner switch.
  8. Unscrew the receptacle and touch the other probe to each of the receptacle contacts in turn. Only one contact should show continuity.
  9. Repeat the test with a probe clipped on the second switch terminal. The other receptacle contact should show continuity.

Replace a receptacle that fails either test. Simply cut the wires to the receptacle and splice the new receptacle’s leads to the wires using a porcelain wire cap.

Check and replace an electric cooktop wired burner:

  1. Unplug the range or disconnect power at the electrical service panel.
  2. Remove the drip pan and unscrew the element and the ceramic block from the range.
  3. Remove the clips that join the two halves of the ceramic block. Tighten any loose connections and test the element. Replace the element if the terminals are burned or corroded.
  4. Label and detach the wires from the element.
  5. Set a multimeter to RX1 (resistance times 1) and touch one probe to each terminal or terminal group. The meter should show continuity.
  6. Test for proper grounding by clipping one probe to the sheathing and touching each terminal. The multimeter needle should not move. Replace the element if it fails any test.

Test an electric cooktop burner switch:

  1. Unplug the range or disconnect power at the electrical service panel.
  2. Remove the screws or spring clips at each end of the control panel, located on the front or back of the cooktop. Move the panel to expose the controls and wiring.
  3. Disconnect one wire from each pair of terminals corresponding to the suspect burner. Turn the switch for the suspect burner to the on position.
  4. Set a multimeter to RX1 (resistance times 1) and test for continuity. Replace the switch if there is no continuity.

Change an accessory fuse:

  1. Unplug the range or disconnect power at the electrical service panel.
  2. Raise the cooktop, unscrew the fuse, and screw in a same-amp replacement.

Replace a malfunctioning electric cooktop clock/timer:

  1. Unplug the range or disconnect power at the electrical service panel.
  2. Remove the screws or spring clips at each end of the control panel, located on the front or back of the cooktop. Move the panel to expose the controls and wiring.
  3. Remove leads and unscrew the timer from the panel, then remove the timer.
  4. Install a new timer by reattaching leads in the same way they came off the old timer.

Test and replace a faulty electric cooktop control-panel receptacle:

  1. Unplug the range or disconnect power at the electrical service panel.
  2. Test the electrical receptacle with a multimeter. If the receptacle is faulty, continue with step 3.
  3. Remove the cover from the control panel (see above), pull the receptacle through the front of the panel, and remove the leads.
  4. Install an exact replacement receptacle, connecting the leads in the same way they came off the old receptacle.

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