So, you’re getting ready to prepare a nice meal for yourself, your date, or your family. You’ve found a delicious recipe online, purchased all of the ingredients you need, but just remembered that your oven seems as though it has been taking forever to heat up lately. How long does it take to preheat an oven? How can you tell when yours is on its last leg?
While we use our ovens all the time, those two questions are something that we never really have to ask ourselves. There are several things to take into consideration when preheating an oven, and a few simple ways to check on whether your oven is on its way out.
Preheating is Important
When making a meal, especially for the first time, it is always important to stick to the recipe. Whether you are using one that you found online or an old family favorite passed down through generations, your recipe should indicate how long to preheat the oven.
Things like desserts and meats may require that the oven is at a specific temperature when you put them in so that they can cook all the way through, this way you will not become sick or have a gooey middle to your baking masterpiece.
Items like pizza, on the other hand, can defrost in the oven while it is heating up and then begin cooking once your oven is hot enough. Always check the recipe for advice on how long to preheat.
Preheating Varies by Model
The size and type of oven you own has a significant impact on how long it takes to preheat. The smaller the oven, the less time it is going to take to reach the desired temperature.
Also, if you own a gas-powered oven, it can be a little harder to gauge its temperature than an electric one. Thankfully, all ovens have either a light or a sound to indicate when they have reached the heat you have set them to.
Each model is different, but you can expect any modern oven to take around 10 or 15 minutes to reach 400 degrees. Some even offer a “fast preheat” feature, taking only 7 to 10 minutes to warm up all the way.
A good rule of thumb when you are unsure is to wait 20 minutes for anything over 400 degrees.
Gas ovens heat up much faster than electric models. On average, you can expect them to take around 5 minutes to reach the desired temperature.
Factors That Affect Heating Time
Some things can slow the preheating process down. For instance, leaving any rack you are not using inside the oven can add several minutes on to its heating time.
Opening the door will also slow the process down by allowing the heat to escape. It might be tempting to check for yourself how hot the oven is, but resisting the urge will help speed things up.
Larger ovens and those running on lower voltages will take the longest amount of time. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about either of these situations.
The cooler the room your oven is in, the longer it is going to take to reach the right temperature. Keep this in mind during the winter, as well as in the summer if you like to crank the AC.
The last factor that effects heating time is the year your model was made. Newer models simply heat up faster than older models do.
There are a few things you can do if you feel like your oven is taking an eternity to heat up.
Cut the Power
Your oven may not be receiving enough power from its connection. Head over to the circuit breaker and cut off the power supply, then wait thirty seconds before turning it back on.
This will reset the connection, giving your oven the power it needs.
Clean It Up
After years of use, ovens can become a lot dirtier than you think even they do not look like it. The film that butter and oils leave inside can build up, adding a lot more time to the preheating process.
It can be a tedious process, but the results are worth it. For your health, skip the toxic oven cleaners of yesteryear by using baking soda and vinegar.
Checking the Sensor
If there is no signal that the oven has preheated, it may mean the sensor has stopped working. You can test your sensor by following the instructions in the owner’s manual, or by finding your model’s manual online.
Checking the Heating Element
The element that turns red when heating your oven can wear out over time. After allowing the oven to cool down, check to see if there are any breaks or blistering marks.
Either sign of damage can cause your oven to not heat properly, or even not heat at all.
How to Tell When Your Oven Needs Replaced/Repaired
Over time, different components in your oven will wear out or even break. This can change its ability to preheat, as well as properly cook your food.
If preheating problems have you worried, pay attention for these common signs.
Tried and True Recipes Aren’t Cooking
If you have a recipe you make all the time, then you know exactly how long to preheat and cook the food so everything comes out perfectly. If you find that your cooking times are suddenly leaving you with half-baked messes, the thermostat may need to be replaced.
Alternatively, check the seals around the door as they can wear down over time and allow heat to escape. This might make it appear that the oven is not preheating properly.
The Area Around the Oven is Getting Too Hot
If your cupboards or oven door are too hot to the touch, it might mean that the cooling fan has worn out. Make sure to check the seals on the door first to ensure heat is not escaping first, and be careful when touching the handle as to not burn yourself.
This can cause your preheating time to decrease down to under 5 minutes but is incredibly dangerous.
Preheating Time is Taking Too Long
If your oven is taking 45 minutes to heat up instead of 15, this could mean that it’s elements have worn out and need to be replaced. While larger and older models do take longer to reach desired temperatures, no oven should take the better half of an hour.
Other signs of a damaged element include:
- Uneven baking
- Temperature fluctuation
- No red color when heating
For Gas Ovens
Preheating issues in a gas oven are most likely related to the pilot light. It could either be broken, lacks oxygen, or is hitting the thermocouple.
The Light is Broken
The switch to turn the light on may be broken altogether. You would notice this if the light simply stopped working.
There Isn’t Enough Oxygen
If the flame is yellow or orange as opposed to the usual vibrant blue, this means that there is a lack of oxygen.
Always hire a professional to fix issues with a gas oven. Working on it yourself can be extremely dangerous.
It Keeps Going Out
If you find yourself constantly relighting your pilot light, this means that is continuously hitting the thermocouple.
The thermocouple is a small copper rod that shuts off the gas supply to the pilot light if the light happens to go out. However, this can become a problem if it is continuously being activated due to work out parts.
If you are experiencing problems with your pilot light, it is crucial to have it fixed immediately. These issues can cause poisonous Carbon Monoxide leaks.
Install a Carbon Monoxide alarm in your home if you have a gas oven.
Preheating Know How and Wrapping Up
Preheating your oven is a crucial step in preparing any meal that needs baking. If you feel as though your oven isn’t heating up as it should, then it is important to know how long it takes preheat an oven.
So, how long does it take to preheat an oven?
Any oven should reach the desired temperature in under 20 minutes with newer models only needing 10 to 15. There are plenty of factors ranging from low voltage to build up on the oven walls that can affect this time range, but they can all be fixed with a few simple steps.
- Turn off the circuit breaker then turn it back on
- Clean out the inside of the oven
- Check the heating element for damage
- Check the sensor using the owner’s manual
If you are worried that the preheating time is taking longer than it should, make sure to watch out for the signs that indicate your oven needs replaced or repaired. These include:
- Your go to recipes aren’t cooking properly
- The area around the oven is scorching hot
- Preheating times are taking the better half of an hour
- Problems with the pilot light, if you own a gas oven