Top 7 Reasons Why Your Oven Is Smoking

A smoking oven is alarming – but not always a danger. Find out how to easily diagnose and fix the problem.

To fix a smoking oven, one must first determine the reason why it’s happening. If a fire and total appliance failure is not the cause, one can solve the problem by running a self-clean cycle, removing food and oven cleaner residues, replacing heating elements, and keeping a maintenance routine.

A smoking oven is a serious matter. Although some of the causes are not life-threatening, every homeowner should know the common signs and causes and how to fix them.

The Reasons Why Your Oven Is Smoking

While a smoking oven is never normal, take a breather. Unless there is an obvious blazing fire or the oven no longer works, the cause is likely something that you can troubleshoot and fix at home (or with the help of a handyman).

The most common reasons for a smoking oven are:

  1. A fire inside the oven or an impending fire.
  2. The oven broke – either partially or completely.
  3. Food residues are burning.
  4. Cleaner residues are heating up and burning.
  5. Factory coatings in a new oven also cause smoking.
  6. Malfunctioning heating elements.
  7. A self-clean cycle is running.

Most of these issues can be resolved with a good cleansing routine, by replacing faulty parts, and understanding that sometimes smoking is normal and temporary in new ovens.

Dealing With A Fire Or Impending Fire

Since you are reading this article, it might be safe to assume that you are not holding your phone in one hand (to read this article) and looking worriedly at flames licking at your oven’s door. But perhaps your oven is smoking and you are worried that there might be an impending fire. It is a legitimate fear. 

If this is the first time that your oven is smoking, there is a small chance that a fire is starting. By the time this happens, there is not much you can do except switch everything off. If there is a lot of smoke, open all the windows in the kitchen. Once the oven has cooled down and you still cannot see flames, open the door to get the smoke out. 

The best option is to have an electrician check your oven to see what went wrong. This will give you peace of mind and possibly avoid a disastrous fire in the future. 

Learn how to use a halogen oven and what you can cook in a halogen oven.

What Should I Do If There Are Flames In My Oven?

  1. Resist the impulse to yank open the door. This will suck oxygen into the oven which will only feed the fire.
  2. Quickly shut off the oven. 
  3. If possible, unplug the oven and all nearby appliances.
  4. Never throw water on the fire. Most oven fires are grease-related and water only smears the burning grease everywhere. It’s a good way to spread the fire to the area around your stove.
  5. Use the fire extinguisher if you have one.
  6. If the fire grows, get help immediately.
Top 7 Reasons Why Your Oven Is Smoking
Every kitchen should have a fire extinguisher that is mobile enough to quickly grab and spray.

Prevention is the best cure, cliche or not. This is especially true when it comes to preventing house fires which are devastating and traumatic. You can learn more about the top fire causes in the kitchen and how to prevent or deal with a fire during cooking.

The Oven Broke

You will know when this is the reason. After a puff of smoke, your oven is completely dead or only offers certain functions. There is not much in the way of fixing this at home. You either need to replace the oven or hire a professional electrician to fix the appliance.

Food Residues Is A Common Cause For Smoking Ovens

Hey, we are all guilty of this one. We make something tasty in the oven and residues stay behind. Spills and greasy splatters are sometimes ignored or go unseen and the next time the oven is used, they smoke up the place. 

Good news: Food residues are behind most smoking ovens. If there is no fire and your oven is working just fine, then burning food scraps are most likely causing the oven to smoke.

Bad news: The only fix is to clean the inside of the oven. Okay, that is not the worst news but we all know that cleaning an oven is nobody’s favourite chore! Try to clean the oven with products that won’t leave a residue (we will shortly explain why such cleaners are also a problem). 

Here are the best tips to get rid of food residues.

  • Remove the bigger pieces by hand or pliers.
  • Clean the entire inside of the oven – the walls, floor, corners and roof.
  • Do not forget the cooking trays and racks. Residues on them can cause smoke as well.
  • Use cleaning agents like baking soda, pure vinegar, and water.
  • Always clean the oven after you use it. Allow it to cool completely and then wipe the interior. This will save you from dealing with burnt scraps that not even Godzilla can pry loose.

If you are also experiencing a crabby induction hob, read our free guide on how to deal with common induction hob problems.

Be Careful About Which Oven Cleaners You Use

We live in a golden age of cleaners. There are a product and a brand for every blemish. Choice is always good but in this case, a commercial cleaner might not be the best idea. Yes, there are countless bottles and sprays that promise to clean your oven in a jiffy. 

But here’s the problem.

  • Commercial oven cleaners tend to leave behind a thin layer of the product you used (even if the only thing you see is an oven with clean surfaces). 
  • The smoke is coming from the cleaner residue reacting to the intense heat.
  • The smoke is almost guaranteed to contain unhealthy chemicals. This is not something you want in your food or lungs.

What Should I Do If A Commercial Cleaner Makes My Oven Smoke?

It’s pretty clear when a commercial cleaner is a problem. Your oven was smoke-free until you used a new oven-cleaning spray. Considering that the smoke is probably full of chemicals, you want to act quickly.

  1. Shut off the oven immediately and open all the windows that you can.
  2. Allow the oven to cool completely before you open it.
  3. Do not inhale the smoke.
  4. Use water and a clean cloth to wipe the interior completely free of the residue.
  5. Discard the product that caused the problem.

Why Does My New Oven Smoke?

A lot of people who buy their first oven are alarmed and dismayed when their new appliance suddenly goes up in smoke. Despite the initial shock, you will be glad to know that – in some circumstance – it can be considered as normal. 

Once you have eliminated all the more serious causes – and your oven is brand new – then chances are that you are dealing with a heating element that is breaking itself in. Most factories coat the heating elements of ovens with oil. This oil heats up and causes your oven to smoke when you turn it on. 

Okay, nobody adores a smoking appliance in the kitchen. Even if it is “normal.” So what can you do about it?

Step 1: If you just used the stove, turn it off and allow the appliance to cool down completely.

Step 2: Remove any cookware that might still be inside the oven.

Step 3: Study the instruction manual that came with the oven and you will probably notice that the manufacturer is aware of the problem. If so, they will most likely suggest that you burn off the factory coatings before using the oven for the first time. Look for the recommended settings, temperature, and how long you should keep the oven on.

Step 4: If the manual mentions the problem but not the cure, you can try the following settings.

  1. Close the oven door and choose the bake option.
  2. Set the time to 30 minutes. You can also try an hour to be sure.
  3. Set the temperature up to 315.56 °C or 600 °F.

Once you have “initiated” your oven into kitchen duty, you should not experience smoke again. But if the problem continues, there might be a different cause than the factory oil coatings.

Learn how to remove a build-in oven.

Faulty Or Failing Heating Elements Can Also Smoke

Heating elements inside an oven is known to produce smoke when they are about to fail. Unfortunately, the problem is common. When it happens, the elements must be replaced. There is no safe home DIY remedy to save a faulty element. But there is a silver lining to this smoke-filled cloud. You can easily discover whether the smoke coming from your oven is caused by failing elements.

Step 1: Turn the oven off.

Step 2: Turn it back on and choose the “broil” mode. The element connected to broiling is usually located at the roof of the oven. A healthy element will glow red as it heats up. If not, it might need to be replaced.Step 3: Switch to “bake” mode and check the element (usually near the bottom of the oven). If it glows red, then the element is fine. Once again, if there is no response then the element is faulty.

Top 7 Reasons Why Your Oven Is Smoking

The red hot glow at the bottom shows that the oven’s heating element is functioning properly

How Do I Replace A Faulty Element In My Oven?

Tampering with a complex electrical appliance like an oven is not a good idea. It could make things worse and potentially lead to a fire. When you realize that the oven’s elements need replacing, play it safe. Call a professional company with great reviews to fix your appliance. It will save you time and keep your home safe.

Can My Oven’s Self-Cleaning Cycle Cause Smoking?

Most definitely! A dead giveaway that the cleaning cycle is the problem is when your oven works fine (smokeless, to be more precise) when you bake, broil, and whatnot. But the moment you run the self-cleaning cycle, smoke appears.

Is This Normal Or Should I Worry About It?

No, it is not really normal. But neither is a smokey cycle a reason to worry too much. There is an easy way to fix it. The smoke is nearly always caused by food residues. If you keep the inside of your oven spotless, that should take care of the problem.

What Else Can Cause My Oven To Smoke?

Avoid placing food too close to the heating elements. This can also cause them to smoke. Also, avoid over-using your oven’s self-cleaning feature. Ideally, it should only be used a couple of times a year. Read the oven’s manual to learn more about the recommended number of times that you can use it per year. If you have a gas oven that smokes like a cigar, it is important to check the pressure. When the gas pressure is too high, it could lead to smoke. Take the necessary steps to reduce the pressure. If you are not sure what to do, always contact a qualified gas professional to deal with the situation.

A Quick Summary Of Why Your Oven Is Smoking

  • A smoking oven should never be ignored. It could signal a potentially dangerous situation.
  • More serious causes include a fire in progress, an impending fire, high gas pressure, and complete appliance failure.
  • Less serious causes include food spills, cleaner residues, heating elements that need to be replaced, and factory coatings on the heating elements.
  • Most of the time, you can fix a smoking oven at home by properly cleaning the appliance every time you use it.
  • Some new ovens can smoke when switched on for the first time. But the situation is never normal when the oven continues to smoke past the second time you use it.