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Calibrating An Oven... If you have some time when you can be near the kitchen for an hour or two, you can calibrate your oven easily with simple tools, a notepad, and some simple arithmetic.

First, some new digital-display models allow you to calibrate the temperature by simply using the touch pad. You are lucky! Read the manual for specific details.

For regular ovens, you can calibrate the oven yourself with a just reliable oven thermometer and a very small screwdriver. The size of the screwdriver is the kind you find in jeweler's kits or the like. The kind you buy for working on eyeglasses is way too small.

You can buy a decent oven thermometer at a hardware store for less than $10.00. You can make sure it is reading correctly (calibrate the thermometer) by hanging it on the edge of a pan with one inch of water at a full boil. Let the thermometer steam for a minute and then read it. (Without touching it!- Its hot!)

A 'steamed thermometer' should read 212 degrees for most people - locations at sea level and most low elevations. (People who live at higher elevations will see a 'steamed thermometer' show about 202 degrees at 4000 feet elevation and about 192 degrees at 8000 feet elevation).

If the thermometer indicates a different temperature, note the difference between the temperature the needle shows and what a 'steamed thermometer' temperature should be. For instance, Let's say you live just east of Denver at an elevation of 4000 feet. You put your thermometer in a pan over boiling water as described and find the reading to be 197 degrees. the difference between 202 and 197 is 5 degrees. So, the thermometer is reading 5 degrees too low. That is your thermometer error. You will need to add 5 degrees to the reading of the thermometer when we calibrate the oven.

OK, we have a thermometer that we can trust. Next, put the thermometer in the oven and set the oven to 350. Wait fifteen minutes and take a reading. Say, in our example, the temperature is reading 366 degrees. But, remember the example thermometer is reading 5 degrees too low. Remember we said you will need to add 5 degrees to the reading of the thermometer when we calibrate the oven. So, 366 on the dial equates to 371 in the oven. So, the example oven is running 21 degrees too hot.

Without turning the thermostat knob, pull the knob straight off. Look down inside the shaft and you should see a little set screw. Turn the screw clockwise to increase the temperature and counterclockwise to drop the oven temperature. Turn the set screw a turn (or even less) at a time and don't let the outer shaft move! If the outer part moves, you will need to start over with a new set point. Make sure the outer part doesn't move as you adjust the internal screw. It is a two-handed operation.

In the example above, you would turn it a little bit counterclockwise. Wait another fifteen minutes. Check the thermometer again. Now, In our example, say the thermometer reads 341. Remember we said you will need to add 5 degrees to the reading of the thermometer when we calibrate the oven. So, 341 on the dial equates to 346 in the oven. The example oven is now running 4 degrees too cold. (350-346=4) You went too far! So, Turn the set-screw a hair clockwise and wait. Repeat until you get the temperature where you want it.

Finally, if none of this seems to apply to your oven, then your thermostat might not be adjustable. If the knob isn't adjustable, all you can do is replace the thermostat.


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