HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

Please Help Me Figure Out How To Safely Level a Slanted Electric Coil Burner on my Stovetop

I rent and my stovetop is the electric coil type and very old.

Two of my coils are slightly slanted to the point that the front area (Near the front of the oven) is lower than the back of the coil (They aren't both exactly slanted in the same direction, just roughly the same). I have checked if it was the inserts beneath the coils to blame and it isn't. The coils themselves are attached inside the stovetop in such a way that I can't adjust them and they seem to be attached just slightly high.

The slant of my coils is very slight, but it is enough that I notice that when I cook that there is pooling on one side of the pan.

How can I safely level these electric coil burners?

The only thing I have thought of is aluminum foil underneath the supports of the coil, but it seems like being so close to direct heat would be a bad idea. Would this work? Or is aluminum foil not meant for such high temperatures?

If you have any more questions, please ask.

Thanks for the help!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
  1. I don't think your idea is a bad one.

    My experience with those coils is that you can grip them right where they go IN and pull and they come out. Just reinserting them might be all you need to do. If you google your stove you'll like see a picture that will tell you if you can do this.

    1 Reply
    1. re: c oliver

      You don't think that aluminum foil heated that high will be bad in any kind of way?

      I've actually tried pulling them out and reinserting them multiple times, trying to pull the casing down gently (They are almost broken, I was lucky I didn't break them), and I even flipped the stovetop up and checked it all out and they're just very old and barly holding together (That's when I found out they are almost broken).

      Thank you for the help, do you know where I can possibly find out if the aluminum foil thing is bad?

      1. re: sueatmo

        That's just the problem, I have tried switching new burners in and the burners themselves aren't the problem, the part of the stovetop that the burner plugs into is the problem. That's why I'm hoping the aluminum (Or something like it) can work, because I can't change the stove.

        1. re: KungPaoDumplings

          Do you rent? If so the landlord should fix this. Period. Apparently the stove is quite old. He or she needs to spring for a new one.

          1. re: sueatmo

            I've written it in full below if you're curious, but that sadly isn't an option for me that's why I'm looking to fix this safely possibly with a small piece of metal or something like it to support the leg of the burner.

            1. re: KungPaoDumplings

              Hi, KPD:

              Given your problem and the landlord, can you shim under the pan with a small roll of aluminum foil? This would be more long lasting than shimming the support, and probably more stable. It might take a few tries to get it level.

              You asked above about other materials. Refractory cement in the inside rim of the pan would probably work. It comes in tubes you can apply with a caulking gun. It is quite durable.

              Aloha,
              Kaleo

              1. re: kaleokahu

                Where would I shim under the pan, do you mean inside the stovetop and support the drip tray from beneath?

                The refractory cement also sounds like a doable idea; I never knew something like that would be so extremely heat resistant.

                This is all quite helpful, thanks as always Kaleo.

                1. re: KungPaoDumplings

                  Hi, KPD:

                  I think the simplest way to try foil would be to roll cigarette-sized rolls of foil, and place them on *top* of the cooktop so that they sit right at the edge of the hole, and boost up the drip pan so that the coil/support is level. I would roll it thick enough so that you can smoosh it down good and hard and still have it sit level. I think if you do it right, you can curve it and hide it completely under the rim of the drip pan.

                  Refractory cement--it's made to line furnaces. It sticks so well when dry you can use it to patch holes in steel stove and furnace walls.

                  Aloha,
                  Kaleo

                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    I understand what you mean now and that sounds perfect (I completely agree that I should be able to do this and hide it from sight), this is what I'll do. You've solved both of my problems!

                    And about the refractory cement, that stuff sounds amazing.

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      Kaleo, I fixed it with the method you described and both of my burners are flat now. Thank you again for all of the thorough, clear, and solid help.

                      I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: it makes me happy that you’re here on CH, you’re always a great help.

        2. Hi, kpd:

          You need to go at this with your usual rigor.

          First, level the *stove*. There should be four feet on threaded shafts that screw in (lower) and out (higher). You can do this with a cheap bubble level, but it is better if you use a short "torpedo" level. Keep adjusting and measuring on multiple axes until the thing is level and doesn't wobble.

          Then, remove the coils themselves. You usually do this simply by tipping the coil upward opposite the end where it connects to the wiring, and pulling it out. It should come out easily.

          When you take each coil out, look at the support it's attached to. These supports usually have 3 legs, and they normally clip to the coil itself. If they're all flat and clipped securely, set them aside. If they rattle or a clip or two has come loose, try clipping the coils back into place. You may have to clock one or both to get it to fit the way it did before a prior tenant screwed it up. If you can't get them to stay on tight, you probably need a new coil/support.

          Then take out the drip pans and look at them. Are they flat and solid? They're normally very inexpensive (and very hard to clean completely), so I like to replace them by ordering new ones. The make and model of your stove should be all the parts warehouse needs.

          New or old, put the pans back after cleaning the cooktop's openings. Make sure *they're* level with your torpedo level. If the pans have little notches in them around the inside rim, note their locations. Obviously, the pans' cutouts need to be adjacent to the receptacle fitting under the top, so you can pass the coils though the cutouts. So if the supports don't mate with the slots, the only way to adjust is the way the coli fit into the 3-legged supports.

          Then start re-installing the coils/supports. The coils' terminal ends obviously go back into their matching receptacles--it should be an easy fit. Depending on your stove, the ends of the coil supports may mate with the slots in the pans. If you have the right coils/supports and the right slotted pans, it should be obvious how they fit together.

          If the *stove* and *pans* are level, and the coils are still catty-wompus, check to see if the coils are binding with the receptacle. At this point, you might try swapping one small coil for the other to see if they fit better.

          If the verdict is that the receptacle/coil fit is to blame, resist the temptation to bend the coils themselves--they'll either crack or break. Sometimes you can bend the wires at the ends of the coils to make it all level (there'll be a little loop or eye there; you can bend that, not the calrod itself.

          If that still doesn't work, AFTER UNPLUGGING THE STOVE, remove the coil and pan and lift the cooktop cover (yes, virtually all coil cooktops' decks lift up, hinged in the back. Lift it up and check whether you can bend the receptacle mounting tab slightly, so the coil (when put back in) sits level in the pan. If you can bend the tab, *gently* do so without pulling on the wires or the receptacle itself.

          If after all this, you're still hosed, make it the landlord's problem.

          Good Luck,
          Aloha,
          Kaleo

          4 Replies
          1. re: kaleokahu

            This is the biggest reply of yours I have ever read: thank you so much for writing this all out and trying to help me!

            “You need to go at this with your usual rigor.”

            I can do that and I’m still touched.

            “First, level the *stove*. There should be four feet on threaded shafts that screw in (lower) and out (higher). You can do this with a cheap bubble level, but it is better if you use a short "torpedo" level. Keep adjusting and measuring on multiple axes until the thing is level and doesn't wobble.”

            I will certainly do this, but I do know for a fact that my two back burners are level and my front two are the ones that are slanted (One noticeably more than the other), so I have a feeling that the stove is truly level and the fault is somewhere in the burners/drip trays/housings.

            “Then, remove the coils themselves. You usually do this simply by tipping the coil upward opposite the end where it connects to the wiring, and pulling it out. It should come out easily.
            When you take each coil out, look at the support it's attached to. These supports usually have 3 legs, and they normally clip to the coil itself. If they're all flat and clipped securely, set them aside. If they rattle or a clip or two has come loose, try clipping the coils back into place. You may have to clock one or both to get it to fit the way it did before a prior tenant screwed it up. If you can't get them to stay on tight, you probably need a new coil/support.”

            One of mine the coils are completely attached, the other two are not attached (The two sides ones, it seems almost like a design). How do I clip them in place? What do I use?

            “Then take out the drip pans and look at them. Are they flat and solid? They're normally very inexpensive (and very hard to clean completely), so I like to replace them by ordering new ones. The make and model of your stove should be all the parts warehouse needs.”

            The drip pans are flat and solid, on one of my burners though there is a gap of support underneath one of the supports even though the tray seems to have a level circle all the way around and the two other supports sit perfectly.

            “If the *stove* and *pans* are level, and the coils are still catty-wompus, check to see if the coils are binding with the receptacle. At this point, you might try swapping one small coil for the other to see if they fit better.”

            I tried swapping all three coils in the same spot and the same problem occurred (The small burner is the one that is lacking support under one of its supports).

            “If the verdict is that the receptacle/coil fit is to blame, resist the temptation to bend the coils themselves--they'll either crack or break. Sometimes you can bend the wires at the ends of the coils to make it all level (there'll be a little loop or eye there; you can bend that, not the calrod itself.”

            I have tried that and did in fact resist trying to bend it more. Sadly no avail.

            “If that still doesn't work, AFTER UNPLUGGING THE STOVE, remove the coil and pan and lift the cooktop cover (yes, virtually all coil cooktops' decks lift up, hinged in the back. Lift it up and check whether you can bend the receptacle mounting tab slightly, so the coil (when put back in) sits level in the pan. If you can bend the tab, *gently* do so without pulling on the wires or the receptacle itself.”

            I have also sadly tried doing this as well and the stove is so old that when I tried doing this I almost broke it.

            “If after all this, you're still hosed, make it the landlord's problem.”

            I would, but I have the type of landlord that would consider this “working order”.

            “Good Luck”

            Thank you. Any chance you know if aluminum is dangerous to heat up near an electric coil?

            Do you know anything else I may be able to support the supports with that won’t be dangerous? One of my burners looks like it is only going to be solved with something helping support.

            1. re: kaleokahu

              I also forgot to write that it most certainly seems like the housings are to blame (They seem to be far too high).

              Also, I just used a level and the stovetop is level.

              1. re: KungPaoDumplings

                Hi, kpd:

                You're welcome. This can be a maddening problem.

                Aluminum is not dangerous near an electric coil, but it will degrade and decompose and you'll lose the shimming effect you thought you had.

                How much wire do you have protruding out the ends of the coils? Have you tried bending these a little to take the "bind" out of the fitment? If you're high on the side opposite the receptacle, try bending the wires down a little.

                Re: clipping of coils to the supports... There are different designs. The most common has little "horns: on the supports that grasp the calrod coil--it's supposed to be a friction-fit, but if the tolerances aren't just right, the fit can be very tight. When it's right they just snap in place using (strong) finger strength. I would suggest clocking the support until you you find a place where everything both lines up and clicks into place.

                Again, Good Luck,
                Aloha,
                Kaleo

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  “You're welcome. This can be a maddening problem.”

                  Luckily I'm just slightly exasperated.

                  “Aluminum is not dangerous near an electric coil, but it will degrade and decompose and you'll lose the shimming effect you thought you had.”

                  How quickly do you think it will take to decompose? Is there another type of metal I can use that won’t decompose?

                  “How much wire do you have protruding out the ends of the coils? Have you tried bending these a little to take the "bind" out of the fitment? If you're high on the side opposite the receptacle, try bending the wires down a little.”

                  Not much. I tried that and then I had to bend it back because it wouldn’t work right, it stopped fitting right (The housing is installed a bit too far back).

                  “Re: clipping of coils to the supports... There are different designs. The most common has little "horns: on the supports that grasp the calrod coil--it's supposed to be a friction-fit, but if the tolerances aren't just right, the fit can be very tight. When it's right they just snap in place using (strong) finger strength. I would suggest clocking the support until you you find a place where everything both lines up and clicks into place.”

                  I will do that, thank you! That is one burner problem solved.

                  “Again, Good Luck”

                  Again, thank you.

            2. Two thoughts....

              1. Your landlord is responsible to maintain your rental in a safe environment.....your stove is not safe.

              2. Google Marcone Appliances. You give them the make and model of your stove and they can get you replacements....Similar ones on amazon go for $15, so I would think at <marcone.com> , they are considerably less. It's where service technicians get their supplies across the country for large and small appliances. Repair them yourself and take the parts costs off your rent.

              5 Replies
              1. re: fourunder

                1. Why do you consider it not safe?

                2. My landlord sadly doesn't work that way, it she agrees that something should change she sends her own man and if I were to do it I would get no compensation.

                1. re: KungPaoDumplings

                  For one thing, most fires in commercial kitchens are the results of grease related issues. These fires are always caused by build up, due to improper cleaning. and ,maintenance... most of kitchens will use foil as a covering, thinking the foil will keep what it's covering clean...but grease and oil find their way to seep underneath, and or within the foil. Conceivably, the foil can get heated where it will ignite.. There's a reason why there are specifications for design of appliances...and yours no longer meets those requirements.

                  Inform you landlord and have her take care of it. It's her problem to solve, not yours.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    Do you feel that it no longer meets that requirements because my burners are slanted?

                    I would have her take care of it, but I have tried to have her take care of others things and she doesn't budge and I'm stuck under a lease, so this route sadly really isn't an option for me.

                    1. re: KungPaoDumplings

                      I'm going to put this bluntly.....you are allowing this landlord to intimidate and step all over you.

                      Are you a professional or licensed electrician or contractor? Are you covered by an insurance policy to do repairs?

                      Let's say you bust an element in trying to correct the problem. Don't you think this landlord would deduct it from your security deposit....It's easy, you tell her to fix it or you will report her because you believe it will cause a fire.... You made an agreement to rent a place with properly working stove. You are afraid that moving these elements will cause them to break and you cannot clean your stove properly. Have the Super fix it. If she doesn't agree, then it's up to you how important it is for you to stay there and renew your lease......and suffer with the stove.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        "I'm going to put this bluntly.....you are allowing this landlord to intimidate and step all over you."

                        I agree that my landlord is running my life in this reguard: I can't break my lease though.

                        "Are you a professional or licensed electrician or contractor? Are you covered by an insurance policy to do repairs?

                        Let's say you bust an element in trying to correct the problem. Don't you think this landlord would deduct it from your security deposit...."

                        I am neither of those things, nor do I want to try to do/or have planned to do any of those things; this post is really about finding out if I can safely support/prop the burner with a small piece of aluminum foil or metal to fix the problem simply, easily, and safely.

                        "It's easy, you tell her to fix it or you will report her because you believe it will cause a fire.... You made an agreement to rent a place with properly working stove. You are afraid that moving these elements will cause them to break and you cannot clean your stove properly. Have the Super fix it. If she doesn't agree, then it's up to you how important it is for you to stay there and renew your lease......and suffer with the stove."

                        I'm not in a situation where I am considering renewing a lease, I'm just currently stuck in a lease. I sadly do not have a super, my landlord is who is above me. My lease also does not specify that I am renting a place that includes a properly working stove (The fact I have a stove isn't actually specified in my lease). I am not having trouble cleaning my stove, I am not certain why you think I am. My only problem is that my burners are slightly slanted and the age of the stove makes readjusting the housing unsafe because they are fragile; which is why I am looking to not readjust the housings, but instead just find some safe metal to safely prop my slanted burner.

              2. Makes me want to post, " Have you ever had a fire in the kitchen ?". Be safe and have it fixed by a professional. Got fire extinguisher?.

                4 Replies
                1. re: emglow101

                  Besides light careful bending of something and putting aluminum foil (Or another type of safe metal) under a burner to support it I have no intention of fixing this electrically myself (As you said: be safe).

                  "Got fire extinguisher?"

                  This made me laugh, your sense of humour is amusing.

                  And in case you're curious, I've never had a fire in my kitchen.

                  1. re: KungPaoDumplings

                    Knock wood, I've never had a fire in my kitchen either, but I have a fire extinguisher there and our grown kids do also.

                    1. re: c oliver

                      I have a fire extinguisher in my kitchen too. Because I've lived in many places with landlords like KungPaoDumpling's.

                      1. re: ratgirlagogo

                        A fire extinguisher is always a proper thing to have (I have one too).