When you set your oven to a temperature level, you expect it to bring the interior temperature to the level on the dial. What you don’t expect is to see it go 30 or 40 degrees lower or higher. With many recipes, such temperature discrepancies could ruin everything.
If you feel that having the oven’s temperature setting poorly match your own oven thermometer is reason enough to call in the repair tech, you could have a point. There’s something you should try first, though. Ovens need something called a temperature recalibration procedure from time to time. It’s so important, it’s in every owner’s manual.
So what exactly is temperature recalibration?
Ovens maintain their temperature levels through the use of simple thermostats. Since these devices are mechanical, they tend to not be very accurate. When you set your oven to 350°F, for instance, the thermostat will usually allow the heat to build up to 360°F or so before it cuts it off. Then, when the oven begins to cool down, the thermostat won’t notice the drop until it goes below 340°F.
If the thermostat’s cut-off peaks and troughs are too wide apart (enough to take the temperature more than 20°F away from the set temperature in either direction), you could end up with a temperature level in your oven that makes it difficult to keep to a recipe. Recalibrating can correct the problem.
It’s easy to recalibrate your oven’s temperature setting
Every oven has its own recommended method for temperature recalibration. You’ll find instructions in the manual. In most mechanical models, you’ll see a recalibration screw behind the temperature knob. On digital models, you’ll find instructions on the series of button presses to try, in the manual. In general, when you recalibrate your oven, a temperature setting that takes the temperature up a little higher than the desired level is far preferable to one that takes it too low.
Sometimes, you should call an oven professional
If the actual temperature levels achieved by your oven vary from the one shown on the dial by as much as 70 or 80 degrees, there’s probably something wrong with the thermostat. A cheap replacement is all it takes to fix the problem once and for all. You’ll need to call in an experienced tech.