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Question

If my oven has electricity and is set to bake, but the preheat light is off and there is absolutely no heat, what is the likely cause, and how do I find out without buying new parts one by one?

Details

I have a Hotpoint Hallmark electric two-oven range, circa 1973. The model number, listed as CATALOG NO. on the inside of the bottom oven door, is R HV757002WH. The closest I have found online is RHV757 or RHV757*02. It has a small oven on top, a four-burner cooktop in the middle, and a large oven on the bottom. All together, the unit is about 5'10" tall. All the controls for both ovens and the cooktop are on the top oven, which tells me that it must have come as a single unit. My question concerns the bottom oven; the top oven has issues too, which I will describe for completeness, but this question focuses on the bottom oven.

Bottom oven

Yesterday we discovered that the bottom oven does not heat at all. It worked fine as recently as three days ago. The bake heating element looks fine.

Though there is never any heat, the preheat light only turns on for certain dial settings:

  • Off: light off, no heat
  • Halfway between Off and Bake: light on, no heat
  • Bake: light off, no heat
  • Time Bake: light on, no heat
  • Clean (with shield up and latch closed and time dials set appropriately): light off, no heat
  • Broil: light on dimly, no heat

By the way, the broiler in the bottom oven stopped working a while ago, and I have not done anything about it yet. I got this mixed up with the top oven. The broiler in the bottom oven stopped working when the bake element stopped working in the last day or two. It now produces no heat, just like the bake element, though they both worked fine three days ago.

Top oven

The top oven has started doing two undesirable things:

  1. It is cooking about 130 degrees too hot.
  2. The bake element is making little points of light, almost like sparks.

I don't know if this is related to the bottom oven not heating at all. I realize that the sparks mean I should probably replace the bake element, which I will when a new one arrives.

By the way, the broiler in the top oven stopped working a while ago, and I have not done anything about it yet.

Stove

All four stove burners work as expected.

What have I tried?

I attempted to remove the temperature sensor so I could test it with a multimeter. I couldn't get it out. One of the wires must be wrapped around something back in the oven. I can see and even touch the plastic socket, but I can't get it through the hole because the wire goes back into the oven instead of directly out the hole. (I should have taken photos...sorry.) So I would need to pull out the whole unit, and I'm not sure how to do it.

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    My experience with a slide in GE electric range with oven is that the oven controller (aka "timer") is where to look for the fault. Do you have a digital controller module? An earlier integrated range we had of about that same vintage (cooktop, upper and lower oven, vent hood) had problems with the ovens which I think were also related to the controls. I can understand your wanting to repair it, but one this age is probably past its useful lifetime. We changed ours to a GE slide in with single oven below and positioned a Vent_A_Hood with plenty of clearance above the burner top. – Jim Stewart Nov 21 '17 at 16:28
  • "I can understand your wanting to repair it, but one this age is probably past its useful lifetime." I'm starting to like this idea more. Last night, I tried to remove the temperature sensor to test it, but I couldn't even get it out. One of the two wires must be wrapped around something back in the oven. To access it from the back, I would have to pull the oven out, and I'm not sure how to do it without causing more harm than good. Considering the age and the multiple problems with this unit, I'm leaning toward replacing it. – Gary S. Nov 22 '17 at 14:03
  • IIRC on my GE slide in I tested the thermistor in place. I think I pulled the oven out and took a back panel off and disconnected the thermistor and determined its resistance. The value was within specs. At that point I decided it was the "timer" but a new part was not available due to the age of the stove (about 23 years old at that time). Someone put me on to a timer repair service in Ontario. For about $110 I sent my timer to them and got it back working in about a week. – Jim Stewart Nov 23 '17 at 0:48
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    Here is the service I used about 5 years ago. My repaired timer is still functioning: appliancetimers.com – Jim Stewart Nov 23 '17 at 1:28
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Electric ovens use heating elements to create heat. These are prone to "wear out" over a long period of time. The typical way that these fail is by going open (meaning no heat produced). This website (https://www.partselect.com/Range-Stove-Oven+Baking-Element-Testing+repair.htm) has good information on how to test and replace the element(s).

I suspect the problem with your top broiler might be a wore out element as well. Might as well check them both while you are looking at it.

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    Thanks. But would a worn-out element cause the preheat light to turn off even though there is no heat? Wouldn't you expect the light to stay on because the desired temperature has not been reached? – Gary S. Nov 21 '17 at 16:49
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    Potentially. I've seen some ovens where the light is a "dumb" timer that isn't based on temperature, but rather based on the expected time it would take to reach the desired temperature if everything was working properly. In your case where the pre-heat light is always off, I suspect there might be something else going on. – cyclops Nov 21 '17 at 17:55

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