Most stoves have a special light that indicates when they’re hot so that you know when there’s the potential for burns — and so that you can see if you forgot to shut off a burner at some point. But what happens if the hot stove indicator won’t shut off, even when the stove has cooled down?
If a hot stove indicator light won’t shut off it’s probably due to a faulty switch or a faulty indicator switch connected to your element. In either case, you’ll need to remove the stovetop and use a voltmeter to test for continuity. If you don’t have the tools and experience to do so, contact an electrician.
Having to deal with a faulty hot stove indicator can be a real drag, but getting it fixed as soon as possible is important to the safety of your home and those in it. Let’s look at some of the common causes behind a hot surface indicator light staying on and how you can address the issue.
Stove’s Hot Surface Indicator Light Staying On: 3 common reasons
There are several reasons why your stove’s hot surface indicator light might stay on even when you know for a fact the stove top was shut off and has cooled down. There isn’t a problem with the light and the fault will be somewhere else within your stove.
There’s a difference between Hot Surface and Element ON indicators. These are controlled by two different switches.Andy Fulenchek
Let’s do some investigating together to find out the cause of your surface indicator light staying on. I’ll start with the easiest and most likely causes to ensure we’re being efficient with our time and getting to the root cause of your issue:
1. The Burner Isn’t Actually Off
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s not impossible that you left the burner on accidentally, or that you didn’t turn it off all the way. Sometimes faulty stove knobs won’t actually do anything even when you turn them – I also wrote an article on how to fix stove knobs.
On some stoves, it’s also more difficult to see which burner is on, and you might have simply turned the wrong knob. Also, an infinite switch (i.e. part behind the knob) can fail internally where the contacts inside will weld themselves together or be stuck with carbon build up – and give this same symptom. keeping the burner stuck ON.
So, if your hot stovetop indicator is still on, the first thing to do is double (and triple) check that all of the burners are fully off.
Also, be sure to check that the oven is off if you have one since the indicator light will typically function for both the oven and the stovetop.
Some burners will also force the burner light to be on if the knob has been turned the wrong way. Before continuing it’s worth testing to see if rotating the knob one full turn clockwise (high to low to off) fixes the issue.
2. The Switch Is faulty
The way your stovetop works is that there’s a switch inside the starter, which connects it to a thermometer. The thermometer is what activates and deactivates the hot stove indicator light. Each ring has its own switch and if the switch is faulty for a particular hob, the light will incorrectly be on.
I’ll help you figure out if one of your hobs does have a faulty infinite switch and also how to replace the switch. This process does require you to disassemble the stovetop and use a multimeter — like this one (on Amazon) — to test the power reading of the switch. If you feel uncomfortable doing this it’s best to get the help of a professional.
Electric cooktops are 220v-240v AC which can be deadly if not respected. The vast majority of testing can be done with the breaker off or cooktop unplugged. I’d recommend doing OHM tests on an un-energized cooktop vs live voltage testing.
I.e. testing continuity on the infinite switch, etc.Andy Fulenchek
Let’s first test whether you do actually have a faulty switch…
CAUTION: UNPLUG YOUR OVEN BEFORE DOING ANY WORK ON IT! I can’t stress the importance of this enough.
test to detect which infinite switch is broken
The first thing you’ll need to do is pull the oven out from the wall and remove the back cover. I’ve included a picture of my oven and arrows to the screws, but yours may differ.
Once the back cover is removed you’ll be able to see the switches connected to each burner. The below picture (source) has four burners but yours may differ:
Inspect the switches and if one looked burnt or blackened, start with that switch. It’s possible that parts of the switch have melted together and become stuck which could cause your burner light to be on even when the knobs are off.
I’d also recommend taking a picture before removing any cables so that you remember the exact setup. Then plug your oven back in.
Now it’s time to test each switch. For this, you’ll need your voltmeter and it should be set to ‘ohms’ or ‘continuity’. On the switch, you’ll see a few terminals – L for the line, H for the heater, and P for the indicator light. Set your probes to ‘L1’ and ‘P’.
When the switch has continuity it sends a signal to the light. Where all knobs are off and you know the stove is cool, check the continuity on each of the switches. If a switch is showing continuity (a reading between 0 and 1 ohm) then you have detected a faulty switch.
Note: If you don’t detect any faulty switches, you should move on to my third solution and it’s likely you have a faulty stove element.
You can also detect which switch is bad without the use of a voltmeter but it’s less safe and I’d recommend using a voltmeter. To do this, unplug your oven and then pull out the cable which goes from the switch to the light. Pull it out from the ‘switch’ end.
Then be really careful to ensure the exposed metal cable isn’t touching anything before turning on the oven. I’d recommend taping any loose ends with a folded piece of electrical tape temporarily to prevent the wire touching ground (or you).
If you repeat this process for each switch/hob you’ll be able to detect which switch is faulty and causing the issue.
how to replace the faulty switch
Replacing a faulty stove switch is easier to follow along with by video rather than text, but I’ll give a brief description of how it’s done and will link to an instructional video:
- Disconnect the oven from power, shut off the circuit breaker or unplug it.
- Take a picture of the wiring and the faulty switch (note – this only works where the new switch has the same layout. If the switch has different pin configurations you’ll need to look closely at the terminal where you’ll see 1a, 2a, H1, H2 etc. Match this wire with the associated terminal on the new switch)
- Pull out the wiring from the switch
- Remove the corresponding knob, and undo the screws beneath the knob (note: use the same small screws for re-installation and not larger screws, as you could pop some circuits)
- The faulty switch should drop out
- Position the new switch the correct way (see other switches for guidance). Place it in a snug but not forced fit.
- Re-wire new switch
- Replace the knob
- Turn the oven power back on and test for faulty light
If this doesn’t fix your faulty stove light, there are a couple of other potential problems that we can look at.
3. The stove element has gone bad
Sometimes with older stoves, the surface element will wear out or ‘go bad’. An indicator switch connects to each element, and where the contact is stuck ‘closed’ the hot surface light will stay on even when the elements are completely cool.
Each burner is on a separate circuit controlled by a heat switch. When turned on, the necessary 240v travels through both sides of the element. Each element has its own high-limit switch and indicator switch (both contained within the above arrow in the picture).
High-limit switch: Safety switch designed to cut power to the element when the temperature exceeds the safe operating range (often 1000 Fahrenheit).
Indicator switch: Switch designed to send a signal to the burner light when the element is ‘on’. It should not send a signal to the light unless it is stuck ‘closed’.
Since all burners are connected to the light via their indicator switches, it’s necessary to open up the cooktop to test each element individually.
Here are instructions on how to test the indicator switch connected to each element:
- Remove the oven and turn off the power.
- Remove the cooktop. To do this, open the oven door and remove the mounting screws. Prop up your stove, unscrew the mounting brackets, and lower the heating elements. Then remove the cooktop but leave the elements.
- Take a picture of the wires for reference and disconnect the wires to isolate the limiter.
- Set your voltmeter to ohms/resistance and check terminals 1b and 2b. There should not be any continuity at room temperature. If the device shows 0 – 1 ohms then you have detected a faulty limiter causing your burner light to be on at room temperature.
If you have detected a faulty indicator switch it’ll need replacing. If you intend on replacing either the indicator switch or the infinite switch, a website like Part Select will ask you for your model number to ensure you order the correct part.
The instructions for replacing the indicator switch are similar to the infinite switch, but it’s a bit easier to follow along with video instructions so check out the below instructional video:
The Stovetop Is Staying Hot Even After the Burner Has been Turned Off
If the hot surface indicator light is staying on and your stove is still hot, then you’ve got something more serious than a broken switch to deal with. Start by waiting about 10-20 minutes to double-check that the stove didn’t inadvertently get turned back on and that it’s truly still running even with the switch being turned off.
If you’re sure that your stove is remaining on even after you’ve switched it off, it’s likely that you have a short circuit in one of the burners. Unfortunately, this is a wiring issue that can be very dangerous to correct on your own, so you shouldn’t attempt it unless you’ve got experience in this regard.
In the meantime, disconnect the stove from the wall so that the power turns off and the stove can cool down. Then, call an electrician to take a look at your stove.
The Risks of a Faulty Hot Surface Indicator Light
If you’re wondering how long you can go on with a faulty hot surface indicator light, you’re asking the wrong questions. This light is crucial to your safety, and you should get it fixed immediately.
Beyond posing a threat to those in your home — especially any pets or children who might not be aware of the situation — you might accidentally place something on a hot stove, melting it instantly. And if you have a gas stove, there’s the chance there’s gas being released into the air while the stove is on, and that’s a recipe for a house fire.
Furthermore, if you’re stovetop is on for an extended period, you’ll be using electricity unnecessarily, which is wasteful and costly.
The Final Word
As you can see, there are three main reasons why your stove’s hot surface indicator light might not be functioning properly: human error, a faulty infinite switch or a faulty indicator switch next to the element.
It can be difficult to diagnose the problem on your own, so don’t hesitate to call a certified electrician to come and take a look at your stove.
They’ll certainly have all the right tools needed to diagnose and fix your problem. In the meantime, unplug the stove to force the light to turn off — and so that there’s no risk to those in your kitchen.