A cautionary tale about self-cleaning ovens

Save yourself an expensive repair or replacement bill!

The whole purpose of this blog is to celebrate food in all its glory. It should come as no surprise, then, that I spend a lot of my time cooking. What better way to develop content….and celebrate food! I can’t say for certain that I use my oven every day, but it sure feels like I do. So it has been pretty disconcerting to have one of my favourite tools of the trade put out of commission for the last couple of weeks through no fault of my own.

Normally, I keep a pretty clean oven as I wipe out spills promptly. But, it got away from me the last little while so I decided to try the self-cleaning feature. What I didn’t know when I bought my fancypants wall oven a few years ago is that one should never, ever use the self cleaning feature. It heats up to 800F+ and pretty much fries all the critical components in the oven. I first used the self clean cycle when the oven was still under warranty, then enjoyed not one but two visits from a gruff repairman who had to replace a whole bunch of parts. Unfortunately for me, he did not explain at that time that the failure had likely been caused by the self-clean cycle.

Yep. That's my bread for the next few days, baked on the barbeque, because my oven is fried. It actually worked really well, though I hope I don't have to make a habit of this...........
Yep. That’s my bread for the next few days, baked on the barbeque, because my oven is fried. It actually worked really well, though I hope I don’t have to make a habit of this………..

I’ve since learned that pretty much all ovens are the same now. Expensive or no, they contain a whole bunch of sensitive electronic components that don’t respond well to being overheated during the prolonged self cleaning cycle. I decided to do a little research and both online sources and my favourite appliance parts shop (I suspect they’re a bit tired of seeing me; in the past two weeks I have purchased and replaced 3 major, expensive components in my oven to try to fix it, all to no avail) confirmed my suspicions – that self cleaning cycles are extraordinarily hard on appliances.

So, while baking bread on the barbeque, as I was forced to do tonight, appeals to my pioneer spirit, I’d really rather use my oven. When I buy a new one this week, I will NOT use the self clean cycle. I’ve been told that putting a baking  pan filled with water and a few lemon slices into a 300F oven and letting it steam for about 20 minutes will loosen a lot of stuck on stuff, making it easier to wipe the oven clean. I am definitely going to try this….as soon as I have a chance to test out my new oven.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

21 thoughts

  1. Good points, Paula. In my case, I bought an expensive Dacor on recommendation of a cook friend, only to discover if you leave the oven door slightly ajar while broiling (as I always used to do) the heat from within enters the cavity immediately above, just below the gas burners, and trips off the heat-sensitive breaker switch. What Einstein would put a heat-sensitive breaker behind the top element on a broiler oven???
    Actually, the Dacor has been one disappointment after another … Would never buy another.

  2. How to fight LG company to replace my range (still on warranty) damaged after self clean cycle…… please help!!!! I had almost fire at home and oven door blocked ( they have manufacture problem wit some device it cause the problem LG wants to fix it )

    1. document everything and send it to them (with receipts, photos, etc.). If they don’t respond, consider contacting consumer affairs advocate in your region (maybe through newspaper)? You can maybe sell them on the “danger” aspects of the story. Good luck!

  3. This is very confusing! My Frigidaire gas oven info. instructs me never to use any oven cleaner products and to only use the self-cleaning cycle. I have self-cleaned it once a year for the last 4 years. The oven is about 6 years old and the only time I had work done was last fall when I had to have the ignitor replaced. Granted it was about $150 for the repair call and the part & labor, but with the cheapest new gas oven ranges going for around $700-800.00, I felt I got off lucky. I can’t imagine that a product sold as self cleaning, would damage it. The appliance companies producing and selling these would open themselves to lawsuits. Exactly what “fancy pants” gas oven do you have?(so I’ll know NOT to buy it when this one dies)

  4. I have used the self cleaning feature successfully on both my electric and gas ovens, twice a year, for 28 years. My first oven was a GE electric and I have no idea how old it was when I got it, but I replaced it with another GE. The gas in my current house is a Frigidaire and is 15 years old.

    1. Hi Raine, from what I learned, your older electric oven likely included less delicate circuitry (computer parts) and that’s why it was able to withstand the high temperatures of the self cleaning cycle so well. I have never had a gas oven so can’t comment on your good fortune and success with that one and its self cleaning cycle. Thanks for commenting!

    1. I believe the polite euphemism is “planned obsolescence”. I asked the repair guy the same thing and he just shrugged, then told me we in North America need to catch up to European appliance manufacturers. It does seem more than a little strange, to include a feature that will quite likely ruin the product at some point!

  5. This blogpost is from 4 years ago, but I thought IImwould weigh in to affirm what you said, since some people didn’t seem to buy it. I bought a Kenmore range that was highly rated by Consumer Reports. The had the exact same experience you had — first time I used it, I got error messages and had it serviced under warranty. THe Kenmore repairman told me exactly the same thing — the electronic components in the newer ranges can’t handle the heat of the self-cleaning cycle.

    1. Thanks for weighing in and I am relieved you were able to get a warranty repair. My replacement oven is nearly 4 years old and I have had zero issues … and I have not used (and will not use) the self-cleaning cycle.

  6. I just went through the same problem where my oven overheated and died during the first self clean cycle. The only difference was that the repair man was nice enough to tell me to “never use the self clean cycle again ” , because it will happen again and again. I think it is criminal of the companies not warning of this issue BEFORE buying the appliance and nowhere is there a mention in the instructions. The side of my brand new solid oak kitchen cabinets even got a bit scorched and wonder if it could set a house on fire?! This is my 3rd oven in 28 years due to moves, the previous ones working well without this problem. I think the companies should be forced to do something about it.
    By the way a message from my friendly repair man: there is supposed to be an oven cleaner on the shelf now especially for self cleaning ovens. I havhaven’t tried it yet since this just happened.

    1. So sorry you went through this as well but glad you had a kind repairman! I am going to see if I can find that oven cleaner though if it is made with harsh chemicals I likely won’t be able to try it.

  7. Just adding our experience. I used the self-clean cycle for the first time about a week before Thanksgiving. I even stopped it halfway through because I thought it seemed kind of ridiculous. Sure enough, we were baking our Thanksgiving pies and it just wasn’t working right. I asked my husband (who does some appliance repair) and he calibrated it for me. On Thanksgiving, my turkey wasn’t baking right… and he calibrated it again. Today my cauliflower wasn’t roasting right. Now he’s doing some more homework! Thankfully, it was a free used range, but it’s still so aggravating! I remember my mom using her self-clean cycle, but that was in the 90’s on an 80’s range. They really don’t make things like they used to anymore! I won’t run a self-clean cycle again!

    1. You are fortunate to have in-house expertise to rely on! Yes, I think it’s all the modern circuitry that makes today’s ovens so much more susceptible to getting “fried” by the self-cleaning cycle. I’ll never use it agai either!

  8. I had a similiar situation with a 2013 Dacor…this unit came with the “flipped” house I purchased. I have been here since Feb 2019. I thought it was time to try out the self cleaning oven. So I put it on. An hour and a half later I decided to go into the kitchen and look at what was going on. The thermostat on the oven read 850 degrees and the scariest part was the wood floor was so hot you could not even touch it. If there had been a toddler here crawling around we would have had to visit the ER. I too will NEVER, NEVER use the self cleaning feature. I have owned four other self cleaning ovens in the past and have never had a problem with them. I really am thinking it is a Dacor problem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.