Why your oven smokes (and how to fix it)

Eliminate smoky situations with these tips.

Alina Bradford CNET Contributor
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Alina Bradford
2 min read
Chris Monroe/CNET

A smoking oven doesn't just smell bad, it can also make your food taste bad. In most cases, however, a smoky oven doesn't mean you need to call in the repairman. Here are some reasons why your oven might smoke and how to fix it.

It's new

New ovens tend to smoke or have an unusual smell when you first start using them. Smoking can come from packing material such as plastic, tape or styrofoam that may have been left behind when the oven was unpacked. Let it cool down first, then go on a search to remove any leftover scraps.

If you're sure you've removed all of the packing material, you probably just need to "burn in" your new appliance. Basically that smell and possible smoke is from bonding agents curing in the unit. No big deal, really, but it can give off a yucky, oily smell. Here's how to burn in your oven to get rid of the smell.

It needs to be cleaned

The most common cause of smoke is food bits burning on the heating element or on the bottom of the stove. A good cleaning is in order, which starts by using your oven's self-cleaning mode. In a story about removing bad smells from your oven, we mentioned that self-cleaning mode should be used with a lot of discretion. Follow this guide to cleaning your oven

After the self-cleaning mode is finished, let the oven cool, then wipe out any bits of charcoaled food left behind. Those little bits might still smoke if you leave them in the oven.

If your oven doesn't have a self-cleaning mode, you can use this all-natural cleaning method:

How to clean your oven with baking soda and vinegar

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And  be sure to clean the inside of the oven window. Foods can get stuck in there and the self-cleaning mode doesn't typically get that area clean. Here's how to get the inside of the oven window clean

The cleaning is causing the smoke

If you don't clean with vinegar or use a self-cleaning mode, your cleaning method may be the problem. Store-bought oven cleaners tend to smoke if you don't remove all of the residue from inside your oven after cleaning. Give the interior a good wipe down with a damp cloth once the oven's cooled. This will prevent smoke the next time you use it.

It's the heating element

Smoke and a buzzing sound in an electric oven is typically a sign that the oven's heating element is going out. In this case, call a repairman to put in a replacement. This is one of the few times you can't DIY a smoke problem.

If your oven is gas, it there may be too much gas pressure in the heating element. This can cause smoke, too. Check to see if the flame is reaching the oven racks. If so, call your gas company to see if your home's gas supply's pressure needs to be adjusted. 

Everything you need to know about convection ovens 

Get rid of your oven's bad smells with these tips