Perform your own DIY electric cooktop repairs with this helpful how-to, which offers fixes and safety tips for repairing stove-top burners.

When an electric cooktop element (“burner”) doesn’t work, either it isn’t receiving electric power or it’s likely that the element or receptacle it plugs into is faulty.

The best way to deal with a faulty electric element on a stove is to replace it.
The best way to deal with a faulty electric element on a stove is to replace it. THPStock /

Check the other elements. If none work, the circuit breaker has probably tripped. Reset it at the electrical panel. If the problem recurs, call an appliance repair person.

If just one element isn’t working, try to pinpoint the source of the problem, which will likely be a bad element/burner or a problem with its connection receptacle. In some cases it’s the switch or the wiring. To replace a bad switch, repair the wiring, or replace the receptacle, call an appliance repair person.

drawing of electric stove burner repair
Flip-up this type of electric element to access the terminal block. Don Vandervort, HomeTips © 1997 to 2021

An element that plugs into a receptacle is easy to test. After turning off the range’s power at the main electrical panel, just unplug the non-heating burner, plug it into another working receptacle, restore the power to the range, and test it. If the element works, you know its original receptacle is probably faulty. If it doesn’t work in the good receptacle, the burner is bad and must be replaced. Buy a replacement, and simply plug it into the receptacle.

When you remove the element, look for burned wires or a charred receptacle. Check the receptacle or terminal block to see if it’s cracked, loose, or looks burned. If you notice any of these signs, replace the faulty component, too. If the male burner prongs are corroded, also change the female receptacle it was plugged into.

A flip-up element requires a little more work. After turning off the power, tilt up the burner, unscrew the small screw that holds it, and then slide it out. Disassemble the insulator block by prying off the clips. Then unscrew the wires from the element, replace with a new burner, and reassemble.

multi meter for testing circuits
Multimeter is used for troubleshooting electrical problems. Mastech

To test an element with a multi-meter, first remove the burner from its receptacle, as discussed above. Set the multi-meter to the Rx100 setting (or, for a digital meter, to [] or k[]). With the red lead connected to the positive jack and the black lead to the negative jack, touch the black probe on one of the heating element’s terminals and touch the red probe to the other terminal.

The needle should jump from the infinity reading to the right, indicating a properly “closed” circuit. If it doesn’t, try the probes on a different part of the metal contacts. If there is still no reading, touch the two leads together to make sure the meter is working (the needle should jump). If it works, there is an internal break in the element and the element will need to be replaced. When you’re finished, turn the power back on, and test the burner again. If it still doesn’t work, call a repair person.

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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” served as MSN’s home expert for several years, and is featured as Yelp's home improvement expert. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort