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You're actually referring to the "broiler" elements. Most electric ovens have these at the top of the main oven space. (Some gas ovens are set up the same way, but many put the broiler elements in a bottom drawer.)
As their name implies, broiler elements are active only when you're broiling. They will not go on for baking.
Broiling is the process of cooking food by exposing it directly to a high heat source at close range. To broil a steak, for example, you would place the pan holding the steak on an oven rack raised to the top or next to top position in the oven (consult the manual) and set the oven to broil. The top elements will then turn on and cook the meat by direct radiation.
Most people, however, use ovens for baking far more often than for broiling. Baking is the process of cooking food (cakes, casseroles, roasts etc) by indirect heat. In other words you raise the oven to a certain temperature, put the food on a rack more in the middle of the oven, and let the surrounding heat cook it over time. When you bake the top broiler elements usually don't come on at all.
Since your oven has a separate element for bake and broil I would bet the bake element is burnt out or burnt electrical connection to the element. Make sure you disconnect all power to the range before checking.
Your bake element is probably open. When this happens the broil element may heat slightly when in BAKE mode and that is where your heat is coming from. First thing I would check is the connections to the bake element as well as the element itsef.
If oven does not heat check heating element and oven control. Follow also suggestion below: "
It won't bake
when an oven won't bake, it's because the bake element is burned out.
The bake element is the black, pencil- thick tube at the bottom of the
oven. When the oven heats, the element glows red. This element has an
expected life-span of several years. It may last for only one; it may
last for many more. When the element burns out, you need to replace it.
the food you're baking is done on top but not on the bottom--or when
baking just takes far too long to finish--the bake element may be
You may get fooled into thinking it's
working, because the oven is hot inside. But many electric ovens use
the broil element, too, during the preheat and bake cycles. So the food
may be getting heated only by the broil element, which causes poor
If the bake element is burned out, replacing
it should solve the problem. Otherwise, you need to further
troubleshoot the oven's electrical system to locate the defective wire
When the temperature is consistent but too
high or too low, it could be one of several different things. First
check to see if the thermostat sensing bulb has come loose from its
holder. It could be lying on the floor of the oven or resting on the
heating element. This would cause the oven to not heat correctly.
If the thermostat bulb is not dislodged, it's likely that the thermostat or sensor is either mis-calibrated or defective.
ovens with a digital display use a sensor to monitor oven temperature.
To solve temperature problems for these models, you may need to replace
the sensor. On some digital-display models, you can calibrate the
temperature using the key pad. See your operator's manual for details.
without a digital display often use a mechanical system for controlling
temperature. On many of these units, you can remove the thermostat knob
and adjust the knob itself to more accurately represent the actual
setting of the thermostat.
If, when you remove the knob,
there's a screw on the back of it with a small calibration plate, you
can loosen the screw, adjust the plate, then tighten the screw again.
If the knob isn't adjustable, and the oven temperature is off by more
than 30 to 40 degrees, you need to replace the thermostat to solve the