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My wife and I were using the oven on our GE JS645SL5SS electric range. The oven was behaving normally while baking at 350F, and we weren't doing anything out of the ordinary with it. When my wife opened the door after baking something, we heard a loud pop and noticed that the oven tripped a 50A breaker. After resetting the breaker, the oven failed to turn on at all.

After checking the power supply to make sure the outlet still had power, I opened the control panel. Here's a picture of the very badly burned circuit board:

Burned Circuit Board

Since that's obviously the issue, I'll go ahead and order a replacement, but I'm not sure what my next steps should be after I replace it with the new one. Specifically, I don't know what caused the current to surge in the first place when the breaker tripped. I would rather not lose a second circuit board if the issue is still present. Is there anything I should test, in particular, to figure out what caused the issue? After reading a couple other posts on this forum, I checked the panel where the 240V power enters the oven, and that looked fine. If I had to take a wild guess, I'd say that water or cooking liquid leaked into the panel from the stovetop and shorted something, but I didn't notice anything obvious in that regard after opening the panel, and it doesn't explain why it happened when my wife opened the oven door.

Second, does the burned circuit board indicate that I need to get a new breaker lower than 50A? I thought the point of the breaker was to trip before something like this could happen?

For reference, here's two diagrams of the circuit that came with my oven: enter image description here

enter image description here

EDIT:

Thanks for all the answers! I took a closer look at some of the things mentioned in the answers and comments and noticed that there was a particularly badly burned trace in the top circuit board. Here's a closer picture:

Close up of burned PCB

It looks like the middle of that trace melted, so I'm guessing that took the brunt of the current spike if the surge was able to melt it from the middle outwards? It looks like that trace comes out of the relay labeled K906 in the schematics. I believe it's the trace between the NO pin and the J426-3 pin on the second schematic I posted. It looks like that powers the oven light, which comes on automatically when the oven door is opened. I'm not sure why or how the light bulb could cause this spike, though.

I saw the the heating element/oven coil was also mentioned. This is what it looks like, but I'm not sure what I'd be looking for in it specifically:

oven heating element

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    The purpose of circuit breakers is to protect the house wiring, not anything you plug into it. It is the responsibility of the device manufacturer to incorporate any needed fuses or breakers or other protective means into the device, if such are needed.
    – kreemoweet
    Mar 23, 2023 at 3:40
  • Can u tell what exactly popped? It is hard to tell from the picture if the top board scorched the bottom or the other way around.
    – Rodo
    Mar 23, 2023 at 5:18
  • @Rodo the top board looks to have some thick traces on it, designed to carry heavy current, while the bottom one has microprocessors and buttons, so I'd bet dollars to donuts the problem started on the top board. It would be pretty unlikely the low-power computer circuits did this much damage.
    – user253751
    Mar 23, 2023 at 7:17
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    I would contact the manufacturer, distributor, and store where I bought it and tell all of them that a fire started spontaneously in the electronics of the range. Tell them this might be a latent problem with their product and you're willing to help them avoid recurrences elsewhere, all they have to do is help you figure out what happened.
    – jay613
    Mar 23, 2023 at 11:51
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    Consider the age of the oven and the cost of a replacement board (or two!) vs the cost of a new oven. It may be more cost effective to simply get a new stove at this point unless you're really attached to this particular model. Then again, it may be far cheaper to just replace boards. Either way, it's something to think about before breaking out the credit card.
    – FreeMan
    Mar 23, 2023 at 12:35

5 Answers 5

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That looks like it will be an expensive board. Before fitting another, I would be checking as much as possible. Opening the door may have caused some internal movement that caused a short.

Minimum of things I would check -

  • The physical condition of the elements - Is one physically damaged? Has one shorted to earth?
  • All internal wiring - Has a wire been rubbing against some sharp metal and has eventually rubbed through the insulation.
  • The physical condition of all of the sensors in the wiring diagram. Also check the continuity of each sensor to earth.

Others have already covered about the breaker. Even the smallest of breakers wouldn't protect the electronics. The breaker needs to be big enough to supply the total current requirements of the stove with all the elements powered up.

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enter image description here

This looks very like a failed (shorted) calrod element. The change in color of the jacket from overheating, the (not quite visible but inferred from experience) hole in the jacket to the core, and the white insulation that's bubbled out of the hole and dripped on the oven floor.

I happened to be present and hear mine blow. The breaker didn't care (it was using a lot of power, but not as much as the whole stove takes) so I shut it off myself. It was happily making a yellow-white volcano on the element.

How that relates to the board damage is not clear, but double-check that the oven element power path isn't the one that melted.

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    Referring to OP's comment to Question about which trace on the board seems to be impacted: It's hard to follow traces on boards when you have easy access to both sides, well lit, and not consumed by fire. But if this Answer is correct, and I suspect it is, you should look for the trace K904--J404--C4 or K904--BI6--L2. Also if this answer is correct you may, with some persuasion and/or threats, be able to make a case for out-of-warranty repair by the manufacturer. The relatively common failure of a heating element should not cause so much damage. IMO this is not economically repairable.
    – jay613
    Mar 26, 2023 at 0:36
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does the burned circuit board indicate that I need to get a new breaker lower than 50A? I thought the point of the breaker was to trip before something like this could happen?

No

Circuit breakers protect the wires in the walls of the house. They do not protect appliances.

Also, a lower rated circuit breaker would not prevent this type of damage. Even with a 15A breaker there is more than enough current available to vaporize small wires if they short the circuit conductors.

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  • gotta agree ., breakers are there to protect installed wiring. ....just guessing here, but I'm guessing the cal-rod element in the oven shorted out and blew the circuit board. Expensive fix. I'd replace both the element in the oven and the circuit board at the same time, just to be safe. Others here may chime in with better advice. Mar 23, 2023 at 4:00
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While the primary use of breakers is to protect wiring, they also protect appliances, but only to a limited degree. Appliances are supposed to be installed on circuits that are the correct size, and circuit size is determined by the breaker.

According to the Installation Instructions from GE:

This appliance must be supplied with the proper voltage and frequency, and connected to an individual, properly grounded, 40 amp (minimum) branch circuit protected by a circuit breaker or time-delay fuse.

So that indicates 40 amp minimum, in which case 50 amp should be OK.

On the other hand, if you only had 10 AWG wire on hand and installed this oven with a 30A breaker, the breaker would be 100% correct for the wire but you would be violating the manufacturer's instruction, and by extension improperly installing it per UL and/or NEC. That being said, the likely problem if you did that would be nuisance trips and not burnt control boards.

The Quick Specs page says:

BREAKER SIZE

240V 40 Amps†

208V 40 Amps†

† NOTE: Check local codes for required breaker size.

which sounds like "40 amp preferred but if your local code says something else, go with that".

In reality, most situations that trip a 50A breaker on a single device will not trip significantly differently if the breaker was 40A. If the oven was using 51A, it would typically take a long time (seconds to minutes) to trip on a 40A breaker and never trip a 50A breaker. More likely you went from 30A (or some other reasonable oven usage) to 80A or more in a very short period of time, effectively a sudden short circuit due to some failure of the control board.

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Based on the service diagram,the area of the circuit board that has the most visible damage is associated with the door lock, cooling fan, and oven light.

I would be checking first if the light within the oven has failed. Be careful opening the lamp cover as it may be filled with shattered glass.

What can happen is the bulb forms an arc inside when it burns out, This arc becomes a short circuit.

The board may be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol, which can reveal which traces have failed, but do this in a well ventilated area.

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