Thursday, September 5, 2013

Replacing The Main Element On An Electric Range

In this post, I will be replacing the main element on a Kenmore Elite electric range, though the repair technique should apply to most makes and models. This is the bottom or "bake" element, not to be confused
Kenmore Elite Electric Range
with the top or "broil" element.

We've had this oven for about 10 years, and overall we've been very happy with it. But recently it just stopped getting hot when set to bake. We can still use it on broil mode, but it's not the same. Good luck with a frozen pizza, and I haven't even tried the bread I used to bake almost daily. With such a busy schedule, it's been out a couple months now, and it's past time to fix it. The wife is starting to complain.


This is a fairly simple job, so the only tools you will need is a #2 Philips screwdriver and maybe a pair of needle nose pliers to pull the electrical terminals off the old element, or possibly fish them out if they get loose from you.

Philips Screwdriver #2Remove / Install the heating element
Needle Nose PliersRemove terminals or fish them out if they get pulled back into oven

Craftsman Philips Screwdriver #2 and Kobalt Needle Nose Pliers

My Oven

Here's the tags from the oven I fixed, in case it helps anyone. I easily found the new element from an online store using the model number from the tags.

Kenmore Elite Model Tag #1

Kenmore Elite Model Tag #2

Step 1 - Remove Old Element

Removing the old baking element should be simple. First, take out the racks if they are in the oven. Now, take a look at how the old element is mounted. You should see two screws either right above or right below it. See them? Those two screws are all that's holding the old element in the oven. If you don't see mounting screws right next to the element, this is not the article you're looking for.

Kenmore Elite Range: Closeup Of Baking Element

Now, take those two screws out, as always being very careful not to strip them. Do not use too small of a screwdriver, and of course, I only use USA made screwdrivers, mainly due to the harder steel that's less likely to strip the screws.

Kenmore Elite Range: Closeup Of Baking Element Mounting Screws

When you have the screws out, you will notice that behind the mounting plate, the element is connected to two electrical terminals. Carefully remove both terminals from the element. Be sure not to let them get pulled back into the oven, or you will have to pull the whole oven and take it apart, which you do not want to do for a simple job like this. When the old element is disconnected, try to leave the two wired dangling in such as a way as they aren't trying to go back inside the oven.

Kenmore Elite Range: Closeup Of Baking Element Connection Terminals
Kenmore Elite Range: Baking Element Removed

Step 2 - Install The New Element

This should be the easiest part. Just set the element down and connect it. Be very careful not to pull on the wires too much or you will break them or snap the solder joints, and yep, you'll be taking the oven apart. Ideally you should not be putting any force on them at all, as there should be just enough slack to connect them to the new element.

Kenmore Elite Range: Aftermarket Baking Element

Kenmore Elite Range: Closeup Of Baking Element Terminals

Once the new element is connected, re-install the mounting screws. Be very careful not to strip or cross thread them as people will laugh at you for botching such a simple job. And for that same reason, I like to do a "reality" check and scan the area for tools left in the appliance or something out of place. Ask yourself "am I going to burn the house down when I turn this thing on?"

Notice that the new element below has a slightly odd shape compared to the stock element, but that's fine.

Kenmore Elite Range: Aftermarket Baking Element Installed

That's it! Assuming the element was the real problem and not a control board or electrical contact issue or something, your oven should now be operational. Ours lasted almost 10 years of extra hard use, so you shouldn't have to worry about the new one burning out any time soon.

Kenmore Elite Range: Aftermarket Baking Element Red Hot!

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