What Happens if You Leave the Oven On For Long?

empty-open-electric-oven

Everyone gets the heebie-jeebies at the thought of not turning off their stoves before leaving the house, and the consequences can be severe.

You try hard to backtrack all moves you made before leaving the house, but you cannot be sure if you switched off your cooktop.

Then you get hit by the thought of how disastrous and fatal your probable mistake could be. So, you hastily turn your car around or aboard a train, bus, or whatever means you prefer just to go back and switch off the appliance.

But what if you can’t make it back to switch off the oven right away? Say you’re far from your home or out of town when this thought strikes you. What happens then?

What Happens if You Leave the Oven on All Night?

The consequences of leaving your oven on, be it a gas or electric oven, can be disastrous and fatal. Leaving your gas oven on longer can lead to fire outbreaks and gas poisoning. On the other hand, the electric oven can cause a fire outbreak if left on for long.

There are different reasons why people may leave their oven on for a long time. Maybe you’re home preparing something and want to pre-heat the oven, and you fall asleep, leaving the oven on. Or you went to do something else and forgot all about cooking. If you’re lucky enough, you will wake up to a smoke alarm.

While leaving the oven switched on all night is often a genuine mistake, some people deliberately leave them switched on for different reasons—either for overnight cooking or heating the house.

Some foods such as Hearty Dutch Oven Beef Stew are best prepared at a relatively low temperature and take longer to cook than most meals —more than three hours.

As a result, most people leave them to cook overnight and with few precautions you should expect no problems. Besides, during the festive seasons, say Christmas, new year’s Eve, etc., ovens are often used all day long and into the night.

Some people also leave their ovens on for too long to warm their houses. This is the most unfortunate and dangerous situation, especially if you’re using the gas oven.

It can cause both fire outbreaks and gas poisoning because the electric appliances aren’t safe either. So, if you must warm your house, you should search for other alternatives.

The difference between leaving your stove on overnight and when you’re not around is that if a fire brakes-out when you’re not around, there is little to no chance of putting it off promptly.

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But if the fire breaks out when you’re around, you can immediately put it off, thereby preventing it from spreading to the whole house.

Will the Oven Turn Off if Left On?

Yes and no, the question of whether your oven will automatically turn off if left on for a long time utterly depends on its model.

Stoves made in 1995 and onwards will probably shut off automatically. Most of these models (1995 and onwards) come with a touchpad clock, which allows you to program your oven to shut off at your specified time automatically.

Most ultra-model ovens and ranges that lack the touchpad clock feature come with a clock control that automatically turns off the oven after twelve hours of being on. With all the risks associated taken care of, you’ll have peace of mind and focus on other things.

However, not all stove models incorporate these features. It’s therefore essential to confirm from the manufacturers of the stove you intend to buy if it comes with an auto-turn-off switch or not. You can look up the stove’s model number and search for its features on the manufacturer’s website.

Alternatively, check the owner’s manual that comes with the oven. If your oven comes with the auto-turn-off feature, the manual will guide you on how to set up the auto-turnoff time as well as other safety measures to take while using your stove.

The habit of forgetting little things is expected as we grow older. This old age effect can be severe to the extent that sometimes older people forget names, what they need to buy from the stores, leave their stoves on, etc.

Some of the things that they forget are little and come with mild consequences. However, some such as failing to switch off stoves can potentially cause harm to them and their family.

Can the Oven Catch on Fire?

Yes, your oven can catch fire if left on for long—both the gas and electric oven. However, there must be something inflammable on them or near their burners for fire risk to occur.

If you leave food scraps or other combustible items around a turned-on oven, the chances are that they will catch fire. Forgetting food in the oven for too long can lead to burned food, full-fledged smoke, and fire as well.

If you’re preparing a meal with lots of fat or grease, then be sure that it doesn’t splatter in the oven as this may cause a flame.

Additionally, you need to be extra keen when baking. If the batter overflows and drips to the stove, it can kindle fire. It has been reported that even ovens with self-cleaning features can catch fire as a result of spillage.

The risk does not only come from flammable items around the stove catching fire. Long hours of burning can also lead to too much heat, melting the bottom of cooking pots and the stovetop.

What Mistakes Can Lead to My Oven Catching Fire?

1. Excessive Cooking Temperature

Food ignition is among the common causes of kitchen fires—according to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). Setting your oven to excess cooking temperature is an excellent way to ignite your food.

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So, you should always specify the heat levels according to the recipe. Avoid improvising or setting high temperatures when you’re impatient or feeling that you’re behind schedule.

2. Using Wax Paper and Not Parchment Paper

The primary difference between using wax paper and parchment paper while cooking is that parchment paper is more heat-resistant than wax paper. When you expose the wax paper to high temperatures for a long time, it’ll melt and can easily catch fire.

On the other hand, the oven-safe parchment paper won’t catch fire but may darken a bit in the oven.

3. Leaving Food scraps in Your Oven

Anyone can get distracted when cooking, perhaps by Tv, book, family members, other chores, etc., and the next thing they realize is that food is bubbling on their oven surfaces. This minor mishap will stain your oven floor, which can cause smell, smoking, and burning when using the oven again before cleaning.

It’s, therefore, essential to get rid of any food stains on your oven’s surface or anywhere near the oven.

You can avoid food spillage on the oven surfaces by placing all loose food items on a baking sheet. Additionally, check your oven surface for food particles before and after every use.

4. Not Using a Baking Sheet

You should use a baking sheet when baking foods such as cobblers, pies, and pizzas—either directly or by placing the baking sheet on the rack. This is important for preventing any excess liquid from burning at the bottom of the oven.

However, many people forget to put a baking sheet under dishes to avoid dripping. This can cause a mess around your kitchen and even fire.

But if you fail to use a baking sheet, clean the oven properly before using it again.

5. Configuring the Wrong Settings

Virtually all ovens come with the owner’s manual. Be sure to read it carefully to understand how to use the oven appropriately. Most modern ovens allow you to do settings based on the nature of your cooking at the moment—for efficiency.

You’re likely to make disastrous but straightforward mistakes if you do not understand how to operate your oven fully—for example, setting the oven to broiling mode when baking can easily cause a fire.

6. Forgetting About the Food in the Oven

According to the fire department of New York, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires—accounts for 33 percent of the total fire incidences. Leaving food unattended in the oven can lead to burning as people often forget about the food.

Therefore, it’s recommended to always keep an eye on the food you’re cooking or set a timer. Avoid engaging in other chores or activities, especially those that are done outside the kitchen space.

7. Faulty Appliance

A faulty appliance could expose you to a greater risk of a kitchen fire. Devices can get internal damage from overheating or sparks, which may lead to an electric fire.

Depending on the age and condition of your oven, you should regularly consult a professional to inspect it and perform any maintenance service—if need be. Furthermore, you can replace your oven if it’s old and not efficient.

Does Leaving the Oven on Release Carbon Monoxide?

Yes, all gas ovens produce carbon monoxide from the gas flames that heat the oven. These gas ovens are safe to use in homes, but if the natural gas burns partially due to faulty installation or lack of ventilation, it emits carbon monoxide as a byproduct.

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Carbon monoxide gas (CO) is odorless and colorless, so detecting its presence can be challenging. Inhaling this gas can have some severe consequences to your health.

Upon inhaling CO, it displaces oxygen in the blood, which can interfere with the normal functioning of your brain, heart, and other vital organs in your body. Inhaling large amounts of CO can overwhelm your body in no time—leaving you unconscious and suffocating.

Can I Heat My House With My Electric Oven?

You should not heat your home with either a gas or electric oven. An electric oven is not designed for heating homes and may cause a fire if turned on for a long time. Therefore, it’s advised to explore other alternatives for warming your house as using an oven exposes you to fatal risks.

Still, if you’ve to use the oven to heat your home, one person should stay awake to watch over the fire and ensure that the ventilations are wide open for easy air circulation.

Additionally, you should have fire fighting equipment such as a fire extinguisher, a tarp or heavy blanket, salt, water, baking soda, etc.

Frquently Asked Questions

1. Can I Leave The Oven Open For Heat?

Leaving the oven on can lead to severe consequences. You would rather face the agony of cold air than risks associated with carbon monoxide poisoning or a fire outbreak.

The gas ovens burn partially to produce high levels of carbon monoxide, which is dangerous to your health. It can lead to fire outbreaks as well. For the electric ovens, you’ll face the disastrous risks associated with fire outbreaks.

2. How Many House Fires are Caused By Ovens?

There are tons of causes of fire outbreaks in homes reported annually, but according to NFPA, fire occurrence due to cooking leads in the Top 10 preventable causes of U.S house fires list. The NFPA reports that at least 40 percent of all home fire outbreaks are caused by cooking.

Fire outbreak due to cooking is common because it only needs minor negligence to occur. Not supervising your oven while cooking, for example, or ignoring some fault.

3. What Do You Do When a Self-Cleaning Oven Catches on Fire?

When your oven catches fire, the first thing to do is vacate the house immediately and call 911—don’t try to put the fire out.
Most people get tempted to open the oven’s door to put out the fire. However, this is dangerous as it will allow oxygen to get in the oven chambers, fueling the flames.

4. Is It Expensive To Leave the Oven On?

Yes, leaving your oven on for a long can be expensive as it attracts additional expenses. Most electric ovens use between 2,000 and 5,000 watts. So how much can your electric oven used in one hour?

Let’s assume that the electricity rate is 15 cents per kilowatt-hour(KWh). A 2,000-watt electric oven will cost you 30 cents per hour at maximum heat level, while the 5,000-watt one will cost you 45 cents per hour.

About Sylvette Brown

Sylvette is a homemaker and is passionate about cooking and other kitchen-related stuff. She also loves to do home improvement related tasks and keeps on writing about food and cookware on her blog. When she is not writing, she keeps herself busy with her 2 little kids. :)