Have you ever needed to step out of the house quickly while you have something in the oven? Perhaps someone called you, or there’s an emergency to attend to. You might be tempted to leave the oven on. So, can you leave the house while the oven is on?
You can leave the house with your oven on, but it isn’t advisable to do so. The risk of fire damage makes it a dangerous thing. The risk of fire increases based on factors such as dirt in the oven, type of food and oven, and oven settings. There are a few instances where you might leave the oven on.
Apart from cooking with the oven, you should also not leave a self-cleaning oven unattended when it’s cleaning. Here, we discuss whether you can leave your house with the oven on and when you may leave it.
Should You Leave Your Oven Unattended
It’s unsafe to leave your oven unattended, even if you’re only leaving home for a short time. A heat-producing appliance like an oven can catch fire by overheating. If you’re not there to stop it, it could lead to catastrophic damage to your property. Although being near the oven doesn’t increase the chance of it catching fire, it could increase the odds of damage. When you’re there, you have the advantage of faster response time. You can easily get a fire extinguisher and turn the power off before damage. However, when you’re not there, you can’t turn off the oven when the cooking is done. This can eventually cause overheating, burning of the food, and even a fire outbreak.
While you can leave your oven unattended without it catching fire, the risks are far too great. So, it’s advisable not to leave your oven unattended. You can also reduce the risk of an oven fire by ensuring the oven is locked up completely.
Factors Increasing Risks of Oven Fire
Several factors can increase the risk of an oven fire, and they include:
1. Dirty Oven
If the oven is dirty, the chances of a fire starting are very high. Food remnants and scraps inside the oven can catch fire more easily, especially when the dirt is grease or fat. Putting non-oven-friendly material in the oven can also lead to a fire. Even though it’s important to clean the oven, it’s essential to use the right cleaner because an incorrect oven cleaner can also lead to a fire.
2. Settings of the Oven
Setting the oven correctly can also mitigate the risk of fire. If the temperature is set to a normal level of about 212 degrees F, the risk of a fire is very minimal. You may even be able to leave the oven unattended for some time if you set it at a much higher temperature, the risk of fire increases. If your oven has a timer, it’s important to set it correctly.
3. Type of Food
The kind of food in the oven could also determine the risk of a fire. Fatty and greasy food is more likely to start a fire. They can flare up under intense heat. So, you shouldn’t leave such food in the oven and go out.
4. Type Of Oven
There are several ovens based on fuel, cleaning, and other features. Gas ovens are riskier and shouldn’t be left unattended. This is because the oven fuel doesn’t burn off completely and thereby produces Carbon Monoxide (CO). Carbon Monoxide is a poisonous gas that’s hard to detect if you don’t have a Carbon Monoxide Detector. It also overheats faster. With an electric oven, you may still leave it running for some time unattended. Since it doesn’t use burnable fuels, there’s a lower chance of a fire starting. But it’s inadvisable to leave any oven unattended.
When Can You Leave Your Oven Unattended
If you ever have to leave your oven on while leaving the house, it’s only advisable to do it in two situations, and it should be for short periods. These include:
1. Oven with Shutoff timer
If your oven has a timer that automatically goes off, you can consider leaving it on while you quickly step out. Ovens with inbuilt timers automatically switch off after the timer elapses. If you’re using an oven with shutoff systems, you can go out for a short time and come back to it. Even in this case, there’s still a risk. Some ovens also shut themselves down after being on for a period, usually about 12 hours of continuous operation.
2. Homes with Smart Smoke Detector
If you have a smart smoke detector in your home, you can leave your house for a short time with the oven on. This detector alerts you about smoke in your house so you can get back instantly before a fire starts.
Can You Leave an Oven Unattended When It’s Self-Cleaning?
Apart from using the oven, the oven could be on when you clean it. This applies to self-cleaning ovens. These ovens are much safer and unlikely to catch fire, but they are risky and shouldn’t be left unattended, especially when cleaning. The self-cleaning oven uses a very high temperature to clean itself and complete a cleaning cycle for an average of three hours. When cleaning, the oven can reach up to 800 to 1000 degrees F. This is why such ovens are heavily insulated and even have an automatic internal lock that engages once the temperature reaches 550 degrees F.
Even with all these precautionary features, it’s still important to be alert when the oven is on. With self-cleaning ovens, it’s important not to add any chemicals because the oven relies solely on heat to clean up. Adding any other thing could cause a fire. With a self-cleaning oven, it’s advisable to wipe any food residue in the oven before you start cleaning. This’ll reduce the risk of it catching fire. Once the self-cleaning process is done, you have to let the oven cool off for minutes or even hours. Then you can use moistened paper towels to wipe away the residue.
It’s not advisable to leave an oven unattended. But if you ever have to, you should consider the protective features you have in place and the type of oven. It’s also important to remove anything that could catch fire if it’s near the oven.