Oven won't heat up-is it the element or the switch?

We have a standard General Electric stove, with an oven. It is probably about 18-20 years old.
Over the past month, the oven was taking longer and longer to pre-heat, and now it does NOT heat up at all, when the function switch is set to BAKE. The bottom element does not get hot at all now.
(However, when set to BROIL, then the TOP element heats right up to red-hot within about 1 minute.)
We did a 'concept' test on a WORKING oven, and it appears that when function-switch is set to BAKE, only the BOTTOM element is what is supposed to get hot. And, when you switch it to BROIL, then only the TOP element is supposed to get hot, right?
So, we (naively) figure that the problem lies either in: (1) The function-switch (BAKE/TIMED-BAKE/BROIL) (2) The bottom element is bad.
But, we know next to nothing really about oven repair. So, our questions are:
(1)Statistically, which of these two is MOST LIKELY the cause: The function-switch or the element?
(2)Is there a third possibility? (e.g. are there an 'fuse-like' things that are designed to burn-out/switch off in the lower-element circuit that could instead be the problem?)
TIA...
Dave
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When an oven doesn't work the first thing to check is that the timers are not set (some ovens only work when the timers are off - the thing has to be set to MANual, unless the timer is running; read the instruction manual).
The other thing is that a fuse may have blown. Most stoves seem to have the fuses under the top of the control panel at the back of the oven. The lid usually hinges up to reveal the fuses.
If those are all ok, then check for things like switches that are kaput.
Mike
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I'd suspect the heat element based on that description.
You are correct in that the bottom element only is used for the 'bake' setting, and the top only is used for 'broil'.
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I assume you say that because of the gradual degradation.
We HAVE taken the two screws loose at the back of the element and pulled it a few inches and inspected the ELEMENT and the two wires and it looks ok PHYSICALLY.
Can we use an ohm-meter to test it?
Is it possible for the element to be 'bad' even tho it looks ok physically? (Or, should we just 'bite the bullet' and buy a new one, based on the 20 years of age? How expensive is an element?)
Cheers...
Dave

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can be bad but look good
yes you can test with an ohm meter
make sure the breaker is OFF.
With both element leads removed from element, check elment reistance
Guessing here but the resistance should be failry high;. Check the resistance foir a 100watt bulb if my conceptual thinking is correct the element's resitance s/b about 15 to 20 times higher. Or you could compare it to the broiler element.
Checking is easy but I just replaced an element in a 25 year old GE for my mother. Element looked good but was bad, I never checked the resistance.
~$25 online http://www.repairclinic.com/0003.asp
http://www.repairclinic.com/0070.asp
their part finding hepler is pretty good
cheers Bob
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Hi,

Element.
Burnt wire, fuse is possible but normally would effect the broil as well, clock set on auto instead of manual ( not all ranges ), thermostat, selector switch, etc.
How to ohm test an element... http://www.applianceaid.com/elecrange.html#element
How to change ( if needed ) a common bake element... http://www.applianceaid.com/elecrange.html#change-bake
jeff. Appliance Repair Aid http://www.applianceaid.com /
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Hi,

Yes.
How to ohm test an element... http://www.applianceaid.com/el ecrange.html#element

Some common GE ones... http://store.yahoo.com/cgi-bin/clink?a-1appliance+tSwkBf+gehotovel.html
jeff. Appliance Repair Aid http://www.applianceaid.com /
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than a 100W bulb. Power is V^2/R, and you want your kitchen oven to be cooking things a bit faster than an Easy Bake.
100 ohms, very roughly (they're usually either "reasonable" or "infinite"...not much in between).
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Good point Andy.
I messed up my V=I*R & P=I^2*R. substitution. oops!
How about 10 ohms? cheers Bob
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You can not measure the resistance of a light bulb directly with an ohmmeter. When it is cold it will seem to be very low, only an ohm or two. As it heats up (as most all conductors but carbon) the resistance will go way up. The higher the wattage of a device, the lower the resistance will be at the operating temperature. You usually have to calculate it by the voltage and amps it is operating under.
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Yes, I see the logic of your guess that it is the element that failed.
And, to follow up, yes it WAS the element. We purchased a replacement element (for about $40.00) at a local repair store, and the oven is working again just fine...the oven now pre-heats in about 5 minutes, just like a new oven!
Thanks to both of you for the help.
Cheers...
Dave

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Glad to have participated in helping. Damn, I'm glad it wasn't the thermostat... 8^D
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Just to add some relevant facts: The original (damaged) element LOOKED ok...a little bit pitted. After we removed it, we put an ohm-meter on it, and it measured in the 1000's of ohms. Then we purchased the new replacement element, and out of curiosity, we put an ohm-meter on the new one before replacing it. The value was MUCH smaller...about 24 ohms.
So, the bottom line seems to be that you should NOT judge by appearances. Just remove the element and use an ohm-meter, and if the value is greater than say 50 or 100 ohms, it is defective...replace it!
HTH...
Olaf wrote:

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David-
Thanks for the followup posts Bob
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