Seeing your oven emitting smoke is almost always a cause for concern. In some cases, the problem could be small and easy to resolve. But sometimes the smoke could hint at a more significant underlying problem that requires your immediate attention.
Smoke coming out of your oven while preheating is often caused by a build-up of fat and food particles. It could also be the result of cleaning agent residue. Sometimes, issues with the heating element and the wiring could lead to smoke too.
Many ovens have a self-cleaning feature that can address that problem easily – but you should be careful about using it in some circumstances.
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Build-up of Fat and Food Debris
The most common reason for seeing smoke coming out of your oven is an excessive accumulation of food debris and fat. This happens naturally as you use the oven over time.
There’s little you can do to prevent this from happening. A little fat will always drip down no matter how careful you are. A piece of food will occasionally fall off the baking tray without you noticing.
What you can do, however, is ensure that you keep your oven as clean as possible on a regular basis. If it’s been a while since you last cleaned it, this is a likely reason.
Leftover Cleaning Agent
Ironically, cleaning your oven too much or without a proper technique can also lead to similar problems.
Some oven cleaning agents emit a lot of smoke when they are heated up. If you didn’t wipe the oven properly at the end of your last cleaning session, it probably has some residue from the cleaner you used.
This type of smoke is almost always toxic, so it’s best to keep the windows open while you’re giving your oven a more thorough scrubbing. Wipe it down with a damp cloth at the end, using only water, and give it enough time to dry properly before turning it on again.
If you encounter this issue again, try switching to a different cleaning product.
Check with your oven’s manufacturer to see if they have any specific recommendations. Oven cleaners are not universal and some might work better for your specific model.
Problems with the Heating Element
If you see smoke coming out of the oven control panel or areas close to it, this could indicate problems with the heating element. This is a more difficult issue to diagnose and fix on your own, so you should get a technician to investigate if you suspect that’s the cause.
This is also something you should address immediately and avoid using your oven until it’s been fixed. Otherwise, you risk causing even more damage and potentially starting a fire.
It’s possible that your heating element can still be saved – or at least salvaged to some extent. But the longer you use the oven in this condition, the lower your chances will be.
If the situation has already gotten to the point where smoke is coming out, you’re probably very close to permanent damage.
On a related note, you might also have a more general problem with your oven’s wiring. This is another issue that should be left in the hands of a professional. Unless you know exactly what you’re doing, you should never mess with your oven’s wiring yourself.
Plastic emits a thick black smoke when it’s burning up. This can be an indicator that you’re dealing with wiring problems. It’s not a guarantee though – burning food can also emit similarly-looking smoke.
Watch out for the characteristic smell of burning plastic. If you sense that in the air, stop using your oven immediately, open the windows, and call a technician. Ideally, you should also disconnect the oven from the power supply, or if that’s difficult, turn off its breaker(s).
When to Use the Oven’s Self-cleaning Feature
Many modern ovens come with built-in self-cleaning functionality. It’s easy to use and can get rid of many types of build-ups in just a couple of hours. It’s specifically designed to get rid of fat and food particles.
Make sure to ventilate your kitchen properly while the oven is cleaning itself. It will emit even more smoke in the process and can easily fill up the room in just a few minutes.
You should try to stay away from the kitchen until the process is finished too. But stay close by in case something goes wrong and you need to urgently turn the oven off.
Always try to do some preliminary investigation yourself if you find your oven emitting smoke. Asking “why is my oven smoking while preheating?” will get you a bunch of different answers, depending on who exactly you ask.
When in doubt, always consult a specialist and let them handle any tricky or dangerous repairs. This is especially true in cases where you’re dealing with faulty wiring or a damaged heating element.