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I was just using the grill part of our electric oven. It tripped the main fuse box. I think tin foil touched the heating element. Now every time we switch on the oven...it trips the whole house. Where do we look for the short circuit? Which part needs repairing?

It's a hotpoint Aniston. There are so many coloured wires i dont know where to begin

  • Where are you on this planet? – ThreePhaseEel Jan 25 at 1:28
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The heat rod it self was probably damaged by overheating and it probably needs to be replaced. Examine the area the foil was contacting the element and you might find a small hole (or possibly a large one) the heater outer core is not energized but if it cannot radiate the heat. the shield cracks and or melts and then the insulation is damaged allowing the inner hot (both electrically and physically) to short to the shield. Make sure to turn the breaker off and tag it out so no one turns it on while you are working on it. Remove the damaged heater and insulate the ends of the wire with tape (then the stove top could be used until the new heating element arrives.

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  • don't you think this is coincidence? I don't see how a little aluminum foil would do this. – LarryBud Jan 24 at 17:56
  • I have seen the exact same thing on my stove, my mom’s and several older customers. Look at the point the foil was touching it probably blew right there, it’s kind of like halogen lamps, get a little body oil on the glass and they may explode and you can’t even see that fingerprint. Same thing it creates excessive heat and the element blows. – Ed Beal Jan 24 at 18:04
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    I agree with you but many times I have seen them burn in the clear before tripping a 40 AMP breaker+ – JACK Jan 24 at 19:12
  • Yes they can clear from the foil spot and or burn some place that was clear. but after seeing this many times the highest % for tripping breakers or no heat has been the element a vast majority of the time, I have found wiring issues but this was usually at the connection point (loose or low temp spade connectors loosing up) the other case is when the controller blows but this usually takes out more than just the element and the copper traces are blown off the board then the breaker will hold. – Ed Beal Jan 24 at 19:19
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You're in Europe. Your house has a "Whole house RCD". It detects current flow between places electricity should go, and places electricity should not. (aka "residual current" or a "ground fault".

The RCD is tripping because a small amount of current is leaking from the heating element (presumably through the tinfoil) to the chassis of the oven. The oven's safety earthing is doing its job. The heating element is not; it should be insulated by ceramic material, which I gather has spalled off over the years.

So, in the short term, you can fix this by removing the rest of the aluminum foil. However, that heating element desperately needs to be replaced. Having tinfoil touch it should not matter. In the meantime, the RCD will continue to protect the oven from starting a fire. As far as protecting you from getting shocked, not quite as much; that RCD trips on 30 milliamps, and that's enough to stun and rarely kill. Human-rated RCDs trip at 6 milliamps.

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It is likely a coincidence and not caused by the aluminum foil . It is very unlikely the aluminum foil could have any affect on the Nichrome ( or equal ) alloy. The sheath and internal wire some how touched ; the sheath is grounded and has ( should have ) no voltage. The elements normally have a white powder ( magnesium oxide ) to keep the central wire from touching the sheath but it can happen. The heating element needs to be replaced . A possible problem is that the control mechanism may also be damaged. I had this problem once and it was cheaper to replace the stove than the control and element.

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