The burners are the heating elements that allow for all cooking to happen. As the burners age and wear, they may develop different issues and fail completely. Additionally, power may be interrupted at some point in the path to the burner.
As annoying as a dead burner on your electric cooktop is, troubleshooting the causes behind the burner failure is simple. You can step through the solutions below with a multimeter and a few simple tools.
Note: When testing electrical components turn the breaker for the stove off, or unplug the stove from the wall. This is a safety measure and will prevent accidental electrocution.
The heating element can rock side-to-side when pots and pans land on the burner. This can cause a loose connection between the burner and the receptacle, which can cause intermittent failure, shorting, and contamination from food.
A first check is to remove and reseat the burner.
- Remove the burner from the receptacle by lifting up slightly and pulling out.
- With the burner removed, inspect the prongs on the end for any carbon-like buildup. Clean it with fine sandpaper or a rag and contact cleaner. An abrasive cookware pad can be used, too. Replacing the heating element is best if the terminals look pitted or damaged.
- Excessive sooty buildup suggests the receptacle is worn out and needs replacing.
- Align the terminals and insert the burner back into the receptacle. Make sure it sits flat.
- Are the terminals loose in the socket? Try bending the terminals slightly like you would a power plug. This is a likely sign that the burner receptacle is wearing out, so prepare to replace it.
If you have a flat-top electric range, or your burner still isn't working proceed to the next fix.
Heating elements may fail suddenly or after prolonged use under poor conditions.
- Visually inspect the burner for bubbles, cracks or discoloration.
- Remove the burner. Grab a multimeter and test the heating element for continuity in Ohm (Ω). Resistance will read around 20-45Ω; if it reads OL, replace the element.
- On a flat-top range, you'll have to loosen fasteners with a Phillips bit and lift the glass panel up. The burners will then be attached to a metal bracket, which also needs to be removed.
Faulty Receptacle, Wiring or Switch
An easy way to verify that a receptacle, wiring, or switch is the issue — and not the burner — is by swapping a known working heating element to the problem receptacle position. This works best when the two burners are the same size.
- Follow the procedure above to remove two burner elements,
- Swap the elements, and turn on the switch to test the burner.
If the known working element won't heat, the issue lies with either the receptacle or the switch. Unplug the range or shut off the breaker, and ensure everything has cooled.
If there was sooty buildup on the terminals of the burner, then consider replacing the receptacle since it's more likely the issue. Other signs that point to a faulty receptacle are burnt or loose wires, as the heat from the bad connection in the receptacle will affect the wires.
There are two common receptacle kits:
- One has full-length wires that you install in place of the old wires.
- The other (a crimp kit) just has you splice the new receptacle leads to the existing wires.
If the receptacle seems fine, grab a multimeter to test the switch. The rear panel will usually have to be removed in order to access the switch. Make sure everything is unplugged or the breaker is turned off before removing the rear panel.
- Check continuity between L1 and H1, L2 and H2 while the switch is turned on.
- The multimeter should read between 0-1Ω. If it doesn't, replace the switch.