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Recently when I turn my oven on, it trips the breaker. The oven stays on for quite awhile and heats up, but it seems that when it is turned up over 300 degrees, it shuts off. It’s an old stove (20 years) but has always worked fine until now.

The breaker for the stove pops off when the oven has been on awhile. The breaker seems to get very hot when I touch it. I have it off for now.

Is it the stove or the breaker that needs to be changed?

Picture is the breaker and arrow pointing to the area where it feels hot.

tripped double pole, 50A breaker, circled in red

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    Do you have a clamp-on ammeter or can you get access to one? Also, what make and model is your range, and does running the surface burners for an extended length of time trip the breaker? Sep 28 at 1:43
  • The surface burners seem to run fine. I cooked on one stove top before I even noticed the oven cutting off. I can try again just to make sure, but the burner seemed to do just fine. I can probably get a buddy of mine with access to a ammeter to come
    – Jeff
    Sep 28 at 1:55
  • I would not use your oven again until you get the problem repaired, if your breaker is heating up so is your wiring!
    – GdD
    Sep 28 at 11:23
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    @GdD Not if the breaker has a poor contact or some other failure. But yeah, agree that the oven shouldn't be used until the cause has been determined and fixed.
    – marcelm
    Sep 28 at 12:09
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    Have you tightened the screws on the breaker that hold the wires? A loose wire there could cause the breaker to overheat and trip. Sep 28 at 12:49
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You probably have a heating element with deteriorated insulation. The heating element in your oven is a length of wire inside a metal tube filled with magnesium oxide. When the heating element heats up, the whole assembly expands, and that expansion may be causing the inner wire of the heating element to short out against the sheathing. You probably just need to replace your oven heating elements.

You could also have a bad circuit breaker, but that is less likely the cause.

One other thing to consider is that, on some ovens and stovetops, the low setting on the dial makes a line to neutral connection (120v), and the higher settings make a line to line (240v) connection. I know this is true for the stovetop burners, but I'm not sure about the oven.

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    I've had exactly these symptoms with the 10-year-old oven which came with the house (in France). To confirm, I put the oven on my workbench, put it to heat until the RCD (GFCI) tripped, then disconnected the wires and measured the resistance with a multimeter - dead short to ground.
    – grahamj42
    Sep 28 at 18:10
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I think DrSparks has it: the fact that one side of the breaker gets hot only supports it IMO. Though it might still be a bad breaker, and you do have work to do there.

See where 2 of the breakers are half-width, yet the breaker knockouts are full-width? There's lots of room for curious fingers to get in there and find an energized bus stab.

Those can easily be changed for full-width breakers. And, you may be in there replacing the 50A breaker anyway, so it's just 2 more of what you're already doing. Now's the time.

I say that since those breakers are $10, notwithstanding COVID shortage pricing, and it's the same to change all 3 as only one.

The thin breaker has the distinctive design langue of GE - both with the thin 2-pole (notably not a quadplex) and with the body and handle shape. On that assumption... The breaker you need is probably a THQL250 for the range, THQL230 for the 30A thing, and THQL2XX for the one on the right, with XX being the number on the breaker handle. However if the GE panel is every old, the THQLs may not fit, and you'd need to use the Eaton CL250 and CL230 (note the CL which is not the same as CH or BR or C. Call around to actual electrical supply houses for an Eaton dealer that sells Eaton CL.

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    If a breaker gets hot a few times as the OP said, do you think it would be a good idea to replace the breaker anyway, just because it has been heated, even if it does seem to be working? Even if it was the right size/shape for the panel.
    – crip659
    Sep 28 at 12:05
  • @crip659 I think this is saying change all the half width breakers because they are not safe with the gaps in there. While it's a good point, not doesn't really address the question.
    – rtaft
    Sep 28 at 13:04
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    Yes, @rtaft, this answer additionally addresses the gaps around the double-stuff breakers. crip is asking about whether replacing the heated breaker is a good idea, just to be on the safe side
    – FreeMan
    Sep 28 at 13:28
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    @rtaft We have different community standards here than StackOverflow. Not least, software development generally doesn't need to think about safety, because 99.9% of cases are not safety related, and where it is, safety validation of software is a discipline to itself. Here 100% are safety related, and there's nobody but us to speak up. Sep 28 at 20:49

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