How to Fix an Oven That Smokes or Produces a Burning Odor When You Cook
Even though it might look or smell alarming, you should actually expect your oven to smoke or produce an odor from time to time. The extent to which it does both will vary greatly depending on what you are cooking—and the messes left behind from previous meals. In most cases, a bit of haze isn't cause for alarm. In fact, according to our expert, if your oven is smoking, it's likely due to one of the following—and very fixable—reasons.
According to Bob Tuck, the franchise owner of Mr. Appliance, a Neighborly company, these symptoms can be boiled down to two key issues. "Much like your dryer for clothing, your oven is a 'moisture removal system,'" he explains. "That being said, it's more than likely that there are two reasons as to why your oven is smokey: There's built up grease, or, if you've used the self-cleaning function recently, there might be residue left over which is causing your oven to smoke." The good news? These are minor issues, so long as they are addressed swiftly.
A Dirty Oven
If your oven is starting to smoke for the first time in years, it's likely due to an accumulation of grease. "This buildup can cause smoke or an unpleasant odor," notes Tuck, adding that it's also a sign to clean the appliance's interior. "Each oven is different, so it's very important to read your manual thoroughly to see what, if any, cleaning products or materials the manufacturer recommends using."
What if, however, you just finished deep-cleaning your oven, using a self-clean cycle or a chemical cleaner? Despite your efforts, this could be the culprit of any haze or that off-putting charred scent: There might be product residue causing a bit of smoke or even an unpleasant smell. Tuck says this is especially common if you had a lot of grease in there to begin with. "Always be sure to review the safety guidelines and instructions from the manufacturer before using the self-cleaning feature," he adds. "We recommend using this feature only once per year, as it's very strenuous on your appliance." If your oven was particularly dirty, you should clean out any ash or remnants that were left behind from the cleaning cycle (once your oven has cooled), which are likely the main reasons behind both the smell and the smoke.
A dirty oven can ultimately prevent it from heating up to your desired temperature, resulting in unreliable cooking, wasted energy, and a reduction to the lifespan of your appliance—which is why Tuck says you should always clean up any spills as soon as your oven has cooled. Of course, sometimes you need to get in there and give your oven a deep cleaning.
To do this, Tuck suggests following a few simple steps. First, unplug your oven or shut the power off at the circuit breaker. Next, wipe down the exterior of the stove and oven, including the knobs and door gasket. "For the best results, avoid squirts of water or cleaner behind oven knobs, he says: "The liquid can seep in and potentially cause an electrical shortage." Instead, he suggests using a dry microfiber cloth, or a rag that has been lightly sprayed with liquid cleaner, to remove caked-on debris. "Scrub down the inside of the oven with a degreasing agent or soapy water," he notes. You can soak burners and grates in hot, soapy water to remove residue. If you have hood fans or filters, Tuck suggests giving those a soapy bath, as well, or using a degreasing agent recommended by the manufacturer. "Rinse and dry everything thoroughly before restoring power to your oven," he concludes.