Grill elements fitted to most cookers and built in ovens are one of the most common failures, just like fan oven elements and, also like fan elements, there are many variations on the theme dependent on the make and model of oven or cooker.
What we will do here is explain the main different types of oven and cooker grill element, how to access the element and remove it, how to test a grill element is faulty so that you can understand how to deal with grill elements.
There are a number of video tutorials on the Internet on how to do this, mainly from pure spares suppliers trying to sell you a new element, but they tend to be quite specific to a model or series, they often will not help much beyond that. These videos are made to promote the company not to help you learn what you should and shouldn't be doing when ti comes to working on an oven or cooker. We prefer to explain properly and give you the information you actually need. This does mean you have to spend a it longer learning but, that few more minutes may save you hours of grief.
Please read through the enitre article so you have an understanding of the different methods in changing a grill element before you begin and keep it handy to refer to should you encounter any problems.
To explain a little more in-depth about grill elements there are several different kinds but the first thing that you should understand is that there are very often two ways in which a grill element can work, infra-red grilling and non-infra-red heating.
Basically the infra-red type will "glow" red and produce a very strong, direct heat whereas the non-infra-red type will not glow red and yet still heat and, importantly, still cook.
There is some confusion on this when people buy a new cooker or oven as, all too often, the outer element in a dual grill element will not "glow" as you might expect it to and yet it is still heating with only the inner section of the element glowing as you expect.
In effect, just like fan oven elements, grill elements simply heat using the current running through them in exactly the same manner and, just as with fan elements, they are pretty dumb components in that they either work or do not and can easily be tested with a basic electrical meter for continuity.
It has been noted that grease spots on these elements can cause them to blow by creating a hotspot so we would advise keeping the area, especially the area above the grill element, as clean as possible to prolong the life of your grill element.
Before you begin isolate the oven or cooker from the mains power and make sure that the power is off. Do not trust wall switches, they go faulty and even in the off position still can allow the oven or cooker to be powered up. This is desperately important when working on an oven grill element as you will almost certainly have to touch connectors that would normally be live and carrying power, so the danger of a shock is high.
Over the years there has been a number of ways to fix a grill element to ensure that they don't fall down although some are actually designed to drop down for cleaning purposes. There have also been quite a few that can be, literally, pulled out from a ceramic connector to allow easy removal for cleaning purposes.
On these pull out type of grill elements the connector is a weak spot and is prone to failure, either the contacts short out, the wiring to them or they crack. It is also not uncommon for the wiring on more normal grill elements to become brittle due to the heat and to therefore break and cause the element to seem faulty, so ensure that you check any wiring and make sure that it is both sound and safe.
Apart from the connector block at the back, these are the easiest of all oven grill elements to change if the actual grill element is faulty as you simply pull them forward and they drop down free to be swapped out. Almost anyone can change one of these types and they are dead easy to remove for cleaning as well.
Sadly however this type of grill element is becoming less and less common.
Normally there are two securing nuts or screws on the grill element fixing bracket that will release the element and allow removal.
Many grill elements can be fixed from the back which isn't exactly great news for servicing and replacing the element, but on occasion, there is no option but to access the element from the back of the oven or cooker.
This will require that you remove the oven from the housing where it is a built in oven then strip off the back panel in order to get access to the fixing nuts or screws to release the element. For a cooker, the process is pretty much the same, the cooker has to be pulled out and the back panel removed to allow access to the grill element fixings.
At this point it is helpful to have a digital camera or a phone camera handy to take photos of the connections to the grill element, just in case you forget where the leads go. For single grill elements this isn't so important as there will only be a live, neutral and earth connection but on more complex elements with five or six terminals you need to put them back correctly.
Be mindful when you remove the back panel of the oven or cooker that you do so carefully. Very often the mains terminal block is fixed to the back panel or the wiring secured there and it is easy to pull off a connection or two which, if you haven't seen where the connections where fixed to you could have a problem.
As with any elements when you pull them forward there is a severe risk that the wiring will be short and this makes it difficult to gain access as well as replace the element, it can be very, very easy to "drop" a wire or two so be careful and do not use excessive force. This is why we gave the warning earlier about making sure the power is off as, even if you don't touch the wires at all, if they touch the oven casing then it will short and cause a house circuit to trip or a fuse to blow.
Of course if you have the back off the oven or cooker to access the grill element fixing nuts or screws then this isn't so much of a problem but, isolating the power is even more relevant.
However, once you get to them, grill elements are usually easily enough replaced.
These are really only seen on British cookers as they allow a half grill and are extremely uncommon on cookers and ovens that are not either specified with that for the UK market or made in the UK. They have, as British manufacturing has declined, become less and less common.
Essentially replacing this type of grill element is exactly as above.
To test a grill element is fairly straghtforward in almost all instances, it is rare that anything untoward is encountered really.
If you click on the image to the right you will get a short video that explains how to test a grill element in very simple language and it is the most basic of tests to do when figuring out what the problem is with your oven or cooker grill element.
Bear in mind though that, just like fan oven elements, that there are often alternatives or, alternative elements that can be used to replace a grill element and that you can save a considerable amount of money by contacting us to see if any are available. Additionally, it ensure that you get the correct element for your cooker or oven.
Many grill elements have a bar that runs, roughly half way down the element, across from one side of the oven cavity to the other and disappears into a hole on each side of the inner oven liner. This is what is called the grill element support bar.
This bar is there to prevent the element from warping or, at least, to limit the warping of the element where the shape of the element gets deformed. It does work but is not infallible however it is better to refit them wherever possible.
To release the grill element support bar is very easy as once the grill element is free of the connections and the securing nuts or screws at the rear of the element you simply move the element slightly to one side and the other side of the support bar will come free. Let the element drop free then move it across in the other direction at a downward angle and the element will simply fall free. Refitting is the same in reverse.
Where the support bar can become a problem is where a replacement grill element doesn't have one fitted. This can happen as ovens and cookers get older and manufacturers have to switch suppliers to get stock of an element. This is fairly common.
The cure is to take the support bar off the old grill element and refit it to the new one.
This can require a bit of clever tinkering as you have to sometimes cut through the locking tabs or the element support bar with a hacksaw (a small junior hacksaw is perfect) at just the right spot that will allow you to bend or twist the tabs to get it off the old grill element and refitted to the replacement grill element. Although this can be a bit tricky on some it can normally always be done with a little care and patience.
Much like fan oven elements grill elements can also be subject to the law of volumes. That is to say that, the more machines that use the same elements exist, the more chance that there's some ropey copies out there.
What you will tend to find is that the cheap, poor quality, elements will come into existence because it is one that is popular and, therefore, price sensitive. Unfortunately those cheaper ones have a tendency not to fit quite right and not to last just so long.
Naturally we do sell grill elements and, as usual, we're not the cheapest on the Internet but then, we refuse to sell what we regard as sub-standard parts. Cheap is okay, sub-standard is not in our book.
Prices range from the perfectly reasonable to the absolutely ridiculous. Often the low volume ones being far more expensive as there will be no alternatives offered and the use is too low to justify spares distributors importing them in any quantity.
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