How to Calibrate Your Oven Temperature: Digital or Analog

Mariel Loveland
Written by Mariel Loveland
Updated April 21, 2022
A father and her daughter baking muffins in the oven
Photo: fizkes / Adobe Stock

Don’t be burned by finicky temperatures

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Time to complete: Less than 60 minutes

If your oven is giving you the cold shoulder—or, rather, cold dinner—you might want to calibrate its temperature. Weirdly enough, some ovens are designed to run cooler or warmer than the temperature displayed on the oven thermostat. Some manufacturers believe this improves performance, while some homeowners find it annoying. Thankfully, most range and wall ovens can be easily calibrated. 

What You’ll Need:

Tools

  • Oven owner’s manual

  • Needle-nose pliers

Supplies

  • Oven thermometer

Prepping to Calibrate Your Oven

Temperature calibration only takes a few minutes. But before you start, you need to determine if your oven thermostat is accurate. To do this, you’ll need a working oven thermometer. Check the oven temperature using these steps:

  1. Put your oven thermometer in the middle oven rack.

  2. Close the oven door.

  3. Heat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

  4. Let the oven run for 30 minutes (about three on/off cycles).

  5. Read the temperature on your oven thermometer through the door or open the oven quickly to get a reading if the door isn’t see-through.

In a well-calibrated oven, your oven thermometer should read within 15 degrees of 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If your reading is less than 335 degrees Fahrenheit or more than 365 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s time to calibrate your oven. 

5 Steps to Calibrating Electric Ovens With Digital Controls

Most modern electric ovens have digital temperature controls, but you’ll need to read the owner’s manual to know exactly which buttons to press. Every model is slightly different. To calibrate an electric oven with digital controls, do the following:

  1. Read the oven calibration instructions in your owner’s manual.

  2. Locate the keypad.

  3. Press and hold two buttons (per the instructions) to get to the calibration mode. 

  4. Adjust the temperature depending on your initial temperature reading.

  5. Save your settings by pressing “Start” or following the manual’s instructions.

It’s important to remember that every oven differs. Some models use up and down arrows to adjust the temperature, while others have prompts. This is why the manual should be your guide.

6 Steps to Calibrating Electric Ovens With Analog Controls

Older electric ovens usually have analog controls. The temperature control, usually one or two screws, can be found on the oven thermostat. To calibrate an older electric oven with analog controls, do the following: 

  1. Pull the temperature knob off your oven thermostat.

  2. Locate the screw(s) on the back. 

  3. Turn the screw(s) clockwise to decrease the temperature.

  4. Turn the screw(s) counterclockwise to increase the temperature.

  5. Retest your oven temperature with your oven thermometer. 

  6. Repeat the process if needed.

Analog controls are sensitive, so remember to only turn your screws an eighth of a turn at a time. A small change can make a huge difference in your oven temperature. If you’re having trouble turning the screw, use needle-nose pliers to hold the shaft of the knob. 

How to Calibrate a Gas Oven

Like modern electric ovens, most modern gas ovens have digital controls. In this case, you can calibrate your gas oven the same way you’d calibrate an electric oven. Just test the temperature beforehand using an oven thermometer, follow the owner’s manual instructions, press the required keys, and voila. 

If your gas oven doesn’t have digital controls, you’ll need to contact a local oven repair technician. 

DIY vs. Professional

If your oven is giving you the cold shoulder
Photo: Grace Cary / Moment / Getty Images

There are many reasons an oven doesn’t heat up or heat properly. As a general rule, only self-calibrate your oven if the temperature is off by 35 degrees Fahrenheit or less. If the temperature is off by more than 35 degrees Fahrenheit, there could be something wrong with the oven gasket, temperature sensor, heating element, fan, or thermostat. In this case, hire a top-rated appliance repair service near you

If you have a gas oven, err on the side of caution. Homeowners shouldn’t attempt to calibrate a gas oven with analog controls by themselves. It’s a complicated task best left for a certified pro. Gas ovens pose a serious fire risk if they’re malfunctioning, particularly when the gas is left running but the oven isn’t properly igniting.

Additional Questions

What if the oven thermostat calibration doesn’t work?

Sometimes, the problem lies elsewhere in your oven. Check the oven gasket for tears if your oven is still off by more than 15 degrees Fahrenheit after calibration. Tears let heat escape, so your oven won’t heat properly. If you don’t see tears, it could be a problem with your sensor, thermostat, or fan. A local oven repair pro will be able to diagnose and fix your issue.

Is it normal for my oven temperature to be slightly off?

The temperature on your oven thermostat is actually an average temperature. It’s normal for an oven’s actual temperature to vary by a few degrees at any given time. In other words, when you test the thermostat, your oven thermometer may never hit 350 degrees Fahrenheit exactly (though gas ovens tend to be more on the nose). You may want to take a few readings with an oven thermometer just to get a sense of how your oven is heating.

How much do oven repairs cost?

The cost of oven repairs is $100 to $600, but it depends on what’s wrong. If your temperature problems are because of a sensor, thermostat, or gasket, it’ll probably cost $100 to $250 to fix

How can I extend the life span of my oven?

It’s all about regular maintenance. Calibration is just one of many ways to maintain your oven. You’ll also want to consider regular deep-cleanings, self-cleanings, and inspections to prevent costly repairs down the line. 

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