Occasionally, ovens can misbehave, overcooking or undercooking the food in the oven. While this may seem like a major problem, it's not worth replacing the oven in most cases. For many ovens, the problem is that the oven is not properly calibrated. When you set the temperature to 375 deg, the oven might actually aim for 325 deg or 375 deg. There is not necessarily anything wrong with the heating elements. The oven simply "thinks" that the wrong temperature is the one that you requested. Luckily, all ovens come with a method to be "pre-programmed" to set the right temperature.
But what is the right temperature? Homeowners can determine if the oven is running too hot or too cold by using an oven-safe thermometer. After setting the oven to a normal temperature, like 350 deg, homeowners can insert the oven-safe thermometer to see what the real temperature is. An oven that is 375 deg is running 25 deg too hot. An oven that is 325 deg is running 25 deg too cold. Once homeowners know how wrong the oven is calibrated, they can consult the owner's manual to learn how to make adjustments.
Both modern and old ovens have an option to re-calibrate the temperature. A newer oven with an owner's manual can show homeowners how to adjust the temperature. Usually, it requires simply pressing a few options. Homeowners with an older oven with knobs may have to dig up a screwdrivers. It's common for older ovens to have a mechanical calibration adjustment. In many cases, the knob is removed from the older oven. Homeowners then take the backplate off of the knob to adjust the temperature up or down a few degrees. In either case, there is a way to re-calibrate how hot the oven needs to be.
Once the re-calibration is complete, homeowners can test the oven again by setting the temperature and re-inserting the thermometer. If the two temperatures match (or are closer), the re-calibration was successful. In many cases, it will be diffcult to get the heat "exactly right" because some calibration functions only adjust in 10 deg increments. For most recipes, however, within 10 degrees or so is close enough to make a tasty meal.
The oven re-calibration is a great example of how many home appliances can be repaired rather than replaced. Although it may seem scary to have an oven that is the wrong temperature, it is possible that an easy fix like re-calibration will do the trick.
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