Unlike gas stoves where gas is released and then ignited by a spark to produce a flame, your electric stove functions by using electricity to heat up self-contained coils. In gas stoves, you expect to see some sparking as it ignites, but in electric stoves, sparking is nothing but bad news for you anytime you see it. Whether you have noticed a few single sparks or a pretty shocking shower of them, you will want to know the cause of it so you can fix it right away. Typically, this is more of a rare problem, but it does happen and can have a few causes that you will need to address before attempting to use the stove again.
How to Deal With a Sparking Stove Safely
Sparking on an electric stove is very dangerous. As it works at a high voltage, the sparks, even small ones, can be more powerful than you’d expect. It can easily become a fire hazard and you need to know how to handle it correctly. If you are trying to troubleshoot the issue by visiting the potential causes below, you will also want to know how to deal with the sparks when it does occur.
To deal with sparks, you will want to have a sheet pan on hand as well as an insulated oven mitt to hold that sheet pan. With this, you can place the sheet pan over the sparking burner to limit the risk of potential fire or other damage. You will also want to shut off the burner immediately when you notice this happening. Finally, you will want to have a fire extinguisher on hand in case the sparks get loose and hits something flammable. While you can use water to put out fires normally, when electricity is involved, you will want to have a fire extinguisher instead. Call 911 ASAP.
Loose Burner Connections
CAUTION: DO NOT ATTEMPT A REPAIR IF YOU ARE NOT FAMILIAR WITH HOW ELECTRICITY WORKS IN YOUR RANGE AND IN YOUR HOME. CALL A PROFESSIONAL.
If you have ever removed your burner coils to clean your stove, you will note that they are connected to the stove via two terminals that are plugged in. These terminals are what allow electricity to safely flow into the coils in order to produce heat. For this to happen, the terminals need to sit tightly in their outlets. If the connection has become loose due to damage or placing a particularly heavy pot on top of them, it can create sparks.
What is happening when your burners start sparking due to loose connections is that the higher resistance is causing the whole thing to overheat. It leads to burning and arcing, which are the sparks that you can see. You can often catch this before sparking happens by checking to see if your burners wiggle when you remove and insert them for cleaning. A burner coil that can be wiggled loosely needs to be addressed because this issue can soon manifest in it.
If the socket has been arcing or if you noticed the burner was loose before that, it will need to be replaced. Luckily, this is much easier than you might think. You simply need to lift the stovetop so you can access the underside where the sockets are located. Be sure to disconnect the power before making this repair. Now find the socket that is loose or sparking. You will then need to remove the screws and wire connection on the socket. Once done, you simply need to reinstall the new socket to the bottom of your stovetop. If the terminals on the actual burner are damaged or bent as well, you will also need to purchase a replacement burner coil since these cannot be repaired, only replaced.
There are wires that connect the electricity to your burners. Typically, they are insulated and tucked away enough on the underside of your stovetop that they aren’t at huge risk for damage. However, over time, that insulation may be burned away and your wiring can be damaged. When this happens, it can manifest in sparking.
If you inspect the underside of your stovetop and find wires that are discolored, frayed, or look anyway to be worn out, they will need to be replaced. If that damage seems to extend to other parts, such as the burner connectors, you will also want to replace those as well or risk this problem still persisting even after the wires are replaced.
Your burner coils on your electric stove are typically built to withstand a lot of wear and last for the lifetime of the stove. However, things do not always work out that way. Over time, the burner coil may become damaged from regular use or roughly placing pots and pans on them. When this happens, you may notice cracks, bubbling, or blisters on the coil. Once this happens, sparking can occur as electricity escapes from the exposed interior.
Unfortunately, when the coil is damaged, there is no way to repair it. Yet, it is a part that is very simple to replace. Consult your owner’s manual for the specific replacement part and size that you need to purchase. Once done, the old coil can be unplugged and the new model can simply be plugged in.
Malfunctioning Element or Socket
If you have checked all of the above visually for damage, but can’t seem to find something wrong, the heating element itself may just be defective and is shooting out sparks. Usually, the best way to test this is to plug it into another slot of the same size on your stove. Since electric ranges come usually with two big burners and two small burners, you have this option. If it is shooting out sparks when plugged into a different socket, then the element is faulty. If a different element plugged into the same socket shoots out sparks, then you have a defective socket. It is this simple switch test that can often help you conclusively decide what needs to be replaced when you cannot tell with a visual inspection.