How to fix that red light that just won’t turn off

A common problem with electric ranges is a red light on the control panel that will not go out when a burner control knob is turned off.

A DIYer can remedy this situation with a few screw drivers and a lot of caution.

The majority of household electric stoves operate on a 220-volt, 40-amp circuit; enough power to kill a person.

Before you work on the appliance, unplug it and, as an extra precaution, turn off the breaker at the main panel as well.

Begin by removing the screws that secure the sheet metal backing to the range. Depending on the model, the screws will be Phillips or #2 Robertson or a combination of both.

When the back is off, the wiring for the control panel at the top of the stove will be visible.

On my Inglis 30-inch range, the safety light is located between two burner control knobs; other models may have it positioned to the left or right of the switches.

Unhook the wires from one of the control switches by gently pulling off the quick disconnect female connectors attached to the male terminals. If you are like me, you may want to colour code the female and male connectors with felt markers to ensure you reconnect them in the correct order.

With the wires removed, plug in the stove and flip the breaker back on to return power to the appliance. If the red light remains on, the problem is a short circuit in the control switch that remains connected. If the light is off, then the disconnected control is at fault and must be replaced.

Before you continue, disconnect the stove and turn off the breaker again.

To remove the faulty switch, begin by pulling the knob on the front of the range’s control panel toward you. It will slide off the shaft without too much effort. Behind the knob, you will see two slot-head bolts that hold the switch in position. Remove these with a flat-head screw driver and put them somewhere safe as they are expensive to replace (about $5 each).

Finally, disconnect all the wires from the switch so it can be removed from the back of the stove.

Replacement switches can be purchased online in Canada from Part for about $70, shipping and taxes not included. I suggest calling them directly at 1-877-910-4612 to order your part.

When buying a new burner control switch, you must include the product number printed on its side to ensure the correct amperage. For example, a 6-inch burner control will be rated at five to eight amps; an eight-inch one will be eight to 12 amps.

While you wait for the replacement control to arrive in the mail (about five days), tape any loose female connectors to prevent shorts and reattach the stove’s sheet metal back.