What Makes An Oven Smoke?

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Nothing will ruin your day — or your dinner — faster than a smoking oven. Billowing smoke is the last thing you want to see inside your home. Always remember that when your oven is smoking, it means something is burning inside. Luckily, most smoky ovens are caused by the same simple causes. We’ve also found solutions to deal with unpleasant smells and any burnt residue. Learn more about what can lead to a smoking oven so you can prevent it from happening again.

Your oven is brand new

If you’re just purchased a brand new oven, you might expect it to be ready to cook your first meal right after installation. However, that’s not the case with most modern ovens. Today’s oven ranges typically arrive with a factory coating that can smell smoky and unpleasant the first time you cook. 

If your new oven is smoking the first time you use it, that’s perfectly normal. This smoke doesn’t mean there is a problem with your oven. Instead, the factory finish is simply burning off. 

How to stop the smoke: Since it’s standard for a new oven to smoke, this is one of the easiest situations to solve. Most manufacturers recommend running your empty oven at a very hot temperature for about 30 minutes to burn up the factory finish. Plan on doing this a few days before you have guests over for dinner. This way, any smoky smell can fade away before you have visitors.

You have old food spills

Many smoking electric ovens see the same problem: messy spills from previous cooking adventures. If you accidentally bumped a pan the last time you were cooking, any food that spilled onto the oven floor can cause smoky problems down the line. 

Some foods seem messier than others. Watch out for meat dishes that release juices into the pan. This liquid can slosh over the sides when you’re removing your pan. Foods that cook directly on a rack are also troublesome. If you’re baking a frozen pizza or a loaf of bread directly on the rack, you can count on small crumbs wafting down to the oven floor. Even if you’re careful never to spill, small grease droplets will still accumulate inside your oven over time. When this old food starts to smoke, you know you have a problem!

How to stop the smoke: Turn off your oven to get the smoke under control. Once the oven has cooled down, you can remove the oven racks and any food that you might have been cooking. Clean any big chunks of burnt food out of the oven with a wet rag. You’ll probably need to deep clean your oven soon, but this will solve your immediate problem! You can also consider keeping a piece of foil or an oven-safe pan on the bottom rack of your oven to catch more spills as they occur. Leave your oven floor uncovered for proper heat flow.

You recently cleaned your oven

Have you cleaned your oven recently? It’s not fair that clean ovens and dirty ovens can both smoke, but a newly cleaned oven can cause a smelly mess. Traces of commercial cleaning products can cause your oven to smoke after being cleaned. Even a thin layer of spray oven cleaner can smolder the next time you use your oven. 

If you used your oven’s self-cleaning feature, this can also leave residue behind. Self-cleaning ovens operate by running at very high heat to burn off old grease or food residue. This feature might be called self-cleaning, but you have work to do both before and after using your cleaning cycle. It’s important to remove any large chunks of food before using the self-cleaning feature. Otherwise, you risk an oven fire. You should also wipe your oven clean after the self-cleaning cycle is over. This removes any remnants that could cause smoke later.

How to stop the smoke: Turn off your oven and let it cool. Once it’s cooled down, carefully wipe all your oven’s surfaces with a cool, damp rag to clean them. If you wipe down your oven regularly, you won’t need to use cleaners or the self-cleaning cycle very often. When you do set your oven to self-clean, use the shortest cycle possible to reduce the risk of fires.

You have a problem with a heating element

If your oven is clean but is still smoking, you might have a faulty heating element. Electric ovens have heating elements on the bottom and top of the appliance. These heating elements can wear out after high use. If your oven is on but the heating elements aren’t glowing, they may have burnt out.

Heating elements can also experience electrical shorts, which often occur during high-temperature cooking. If you heard a buzzing or fizzing noise before the smoke started, that was likely the heating element short-circuiting. 

How to stop the smoke: When you’re having trouble with your heating elements, start by turning off the power. You can cut the electricity at your circuit breaker, or simply unplug the oven. Next, the faulty heating elements need to be removed and replaced. You can find a repair company and pay for the repairs out of pocket, but if your oven is covered by a home warranty, it’s much easier to get cooking again! 

A home warranty through Home Warranty One covers repairs and replacements on your home’s major systems and appliances, including your oven. When your oven is acting up, Home Warranty One will put you in contact with a licensed, experienced repair company. You’re responsible for a small service fee, but the rest of the cost is covered by your policy. Click below to learn more about home warranties and keep your kitchen in working order.

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