Electric cooktops resemble gas cooktops in that not all of them look the same but operate on the same basic electrical principles. Before we take a look at three common repairs, it would be helpful to understand how an electric cooktop works.
How Does an Electric Cooktop Work
- Electrical cooktops comprise one of two different types of heating coils. One is the conventional coil which is visible and accessible while the other is a radiant coil which sits under a ceramic surface.
- Each element is controlled by its own switch.
- The electrical system operates on 240 volts of alternating current (VAC) through two legs of voltage, each carrying 120 volts.
- When the selector knob is turned to a setting, the switch allows the first leg of voltage to travel to one side of the heating element. The second leg of voltage travels to the opposite side.
- When the voltage reaches the heating coil, the circuit closes, and the element begins to heat.
- The switch regulates the heating element.
- When the heating element reaches the desired temperature, the switch turns the voltage off. The cycle repeats itself throughout the cooking process in order to maintain the proper temperature.
- A radiant coil is equipped with a built-in limiter that monitors the cooktop surface temperature. Radiant coils tend to cycle on and off more frequently than its conventional sister component.
How to Repair Common Electric Cooktop Problems
The three problems are that one or more elements are not heating properly, one or more elements are heating intermittently, or one or more elements are overheating.
- If an element is not heating, use a multimeter to test for continuity to determine if a continuous electrical path is present. If there is no continuity, replace the heating element.
- If there is continuity, then consider replacing what is no doubt a defective switch.
- If none of the elements are getting hot, then consider that the element is not receiving sufficient voltage.
- Check the circuit breaker to see if a breaker has tripped or a fuse has blown.
- If the heating element is operating infrequently, inspect the terminals and the receptacle for damage or corrosion. Sometimes grease, water, or food particles cause the heating coils to function irregularly. A simple cleaning may save the day but be prepared to replace the heating coil if necessary.
- An element that overheats indicates a defective switch that should be replaced.
Heating coils are easy to remove from its given receptacle. Simply lift the coil and pull the terminals from the receptacle.
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