Nick's appliance repair
By: Nick
By: Nick

CEO Nick's Appliance Repair

Self cleaning oven

Table of Contents

6 Ways To Fix A Self-Cleaning Oven

There are several types of cleaning ovens on the market today, but the two most popular are gas and electric. Both types have their unique pros and cons, but they also share one commonality: they can break down and require fixing. Ovens tend to be a lot more complicated than people think. There is more than just the inside of an oven that you need to clean – there are also fans, dampers, burners, racks, sensors, heaters and thermostats to take into account.

It’s no wonder sometimes your self-cleaning oven will deviate from its normal cleaning schedule and need some help getting going again. Here are 10 quick tips for ways you can fix a self-cleaning oven that is not working properly or not working at all:

What is a self-cleaning oven?

A self-cleaning oven is essentially an oven with a pyrolytic cycle. A pyrolytic cycle is an auto cleaning function that uses very high temperatures to burn off any food or grease left inside the oven cavity. The cycle can last up to 3 hours, during which time you are unable to use it. After the cycle has finished and cooled down you’re left with just a thin layer of ash which can easily be wiped away by hand or using a damp cloth.

The whole process takes place at extremely high temperatures (up to 470°C) which are unsafe for humans, so make sure no one else in your house has access to the kitchen while the pyrolytic cycle is on.

The self-cleaning feature was first introduced about 40 years ago, however, it wasn’t until about 15 years ago that this feature became common in domestic ovens.

How does a self-cleaning oven work?

Most modern ovens have a self-cleaning feature. This feature is designed to burn off all food debris and food particles, leaving you with a clean oven without much scrubbing on your part. However, it is important to note that the self-clean function should not be used unless the oven is extremely dirty. This is because the process of self-cleaning your oven in this way requires that you heat it to temperatures as high as 900 degrees Fahrenheit (482 degrees Celsius).

So how does a oven self-clean? The oven to a very high temperature, usually between 880 and 980 degrees Fahrenheit (471 and 527 degrees Celsius). At these extreme temperatures, any food residue, food particles or grease inside the oven are turned into ash. The ash residue can then be wiped away with a sponge or dry cloth.

Due to the extreme temperatures involved in this self-cleaning process, some people choose not to use this feature at all. In addition, because the cleaning occurs at such a high temperature, it can cause excess wear on both your oven and its parts. If you do choose to use this feature, make sure that you first remove all aluminum foil from your oven before beginning the cleaning cycle.

Type of ovens

There are two types of ovens that have a self-clean feature. One utilizes extreme temperature and high heat whilst the other makes use of steam.

A self-clean oven have a cycle that superheats the inside of the oven to about 900 degrees Fahrenheit, burning off all the food and grease on the inside. The heat also vaporizes any water in the oven, so if you’ve got any spills, you may have to wipe them up before starting the self-clean cycle.

Generally, ovens that self-clean, especially with high heat, are a lot more expensive than standard home ovens, but that’s because they have extra insulation and extra heating elements to make sure they get hot enough and don’t damage themselves in the process. The high heat also uses a lot more electricity than the conventional oven.

A steam cleaning oven is comparatively cheaper than the self-clean oven, and also doesn’t get as hot — usually around 500 degrees Fahrenheit. They’re good for cleaning up spills and making sure there’s no grime on the surface, but won’t be able to burn off all the stains on your oven walls as self-cleaning ovens would.

Common problems and solutions

1) The oven door won’t lock

This is the most common problem we see with self-cleaning ovens. It often happens because there’s too much space between the lock mechanism and the hinges of the oven door. After repeated use, that space gets larger and larger as the hinges wear down until it reaches a point where the lock mechanism can’t do its job anymore.

To fix this problem, you need to get in there with a screwdriver and adjust those hinges upward. This may require some disassembly of your oven, but most people can do this themselves without any special tools or training.

2) The self-cleaning cycle will not start

The most common problem with a self-cleaning oven is when the lock won’t release allowing the door to open after the cycle finishes. The main reason this happens is because of food and grease splatters on the door gasket which causes it to expand and get stuck in place, preventing it from opening.

Clear away any splatters from the gasket and run the self clean cycle again. This should help loosen up the gasket enough for the lock to release and allow you to open the door. If this doesn’t work, try using an ammonia solution to soften up old food splatters.

3) Oven not reaching full temperature

This problem is common with older self-cleaning ovens that have been in use for a while. Older models have safety switches that prevent them from reaching temperatures higher than 500 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be caused by an open or faulty door switch or an overheating thermostat. Newer models do not have this feature, but the thermostat may still fail, preventing the oven from getting hot enough to clean itself.

4) The self-cleaning cycle takes several hours

The manufacturer may recommend using the self-cleaning feature only when the oven is cool, or at least before cooking anything. If you use the self-clean function while the oven is still very hot, it may take longer for the temperature to rise to the required level for cleaning. Also, if your oven has an energy-saving switch, make sure it’s turned off; this will ensure that the oven will get to high heat temperature quickly.

5) The self-cleaning cycle doesn’t get hot enough

To clean properly, a self-cleaning oven must reach and maintain temperatures of extreme heat — about 900°F. If your oven doesn’t get hot enough during the self-clean cycle, check to make sure that nothing is blocking the vent openings in the door and that nothing is placed on top of or near the range. If there’s no obstruction and it still isn’t heating up sufficiently, your thermostat might be defective.

6) Unpleasant odors and stains

If your oven smells like something died in there, don’t worry. It is just an indication that your oven needs a bit of manual cleaning. Prepare a paste made of one part water, one part baking soda, and two parts white vinegar. Spread this mixture over any tough stains on the walls or floor of the oven using a clean cloth or brush. Let it sit for several hours before wiping it away with a damp cloth and warm, soapy water.

For particularly stubborn stains, mix three tablespoons of dish soap with one cup white vinegar and spread this mixture over the stain using a damp cloth or brush. Let it sit for several hours before wiping it away with a damp sponge.

You can also create a paste using lemon juice, baking soda and water and instead of letting it remain for hours, clean up after 30 minutes. This will cause all grease and stains to be easily wiped.

Important safety precautions

Ovens with a self-clean function are a convenient way to avoid the chore of manual scrubbing, but they do come with some safety concerns. As a rule of thumb, you should always double-check the owner’s manual and warnings before using the self-cleaning oven feature.

Produce smoke

When you use the self-cleaning oven feature, it heats up to extreme temperatures — between 900 and 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This produces smoke and it’s not uncommon for the self-cleaning process to set off smoke alarms in your home. To avoid this, make sure to deactivate any smoke alarms in the kitchen and open windows or turn on an exhaust fan (preferably both) to help circulate fresh air through the room during the self-cleaning oven feature.

Possible burn injuries

Always keep kids and pets away from the oven when it’s in use, as it can cause serious burns if touched during or after the self-clean has been completed. Don’t reuse it immediately after a cycle, let the oven cool for an hour or two to make sure the oven floor and the oven’s interior don’t suffer from heat damage.

Harmful fumes

During self-cleaning, the oven’s interior can produce an excessive amount of carbon monoxide that is dangerous to not only humans but also animals, especially birds (who are extremely sensitive). So if you have a bird in your home, move its cage elsewhere while the oven is being cleaned. You should also consider turning off the carbon monoxide detectors, if you have any, in your home.


Ovens with a self-clean features are becoming standard in the manufacturing industry and are going to be produced in millions of units sold. It is hard to imagine that this technically complex equipment should work flawlessly, but in reality, problems arise even with the most modern products. In this blog, we comprehensively discussed how does self cleaning oven work and compared them with their steam counterparts as well as examples of common problems and solutions you can try, all by yourself, for oven repair. We also gave handy tips on how you can manually clean a dirty oven.

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