What to Do When Your Stove Knob Breaks

June 22, 2020
Oven Repair

The knobs on your kitchen stove are among the most used control in the whole kitchen. Maybe the microwave gets more use. Then again, maybe it doesn’t. Your cooktop knobs power every kind of recipe. Soups and canned goods heat on the stove. Burgers sizzle. Or the stove becomes the stage for your home chef performance.

However you use the cooktop in your home, the temperature is no doubt an important factor. You need the infinite switch or control knob to accurately set the temperature of each burner. If your burners stop setting the temperature correctly, then you could be facing bad news or a tough repair. But if the problem is actually just the burner knob, then the repair should be relatively easy and simple. 

When Your Stove Burner Knob is Broken

The burner knob, as opposed to the burner switch, is an all-plastic piece that sometimes cracks with use. The crack can happen because of an impact or just because very old plastic tends to get brittle. But there are a few distinct signs that the problem is with the knob and not the switch.

First is a ‘mushy’ or cracking feeling when you twist the knob. The switch is not working correctly because the knob cracks around the post when you try to turn it. The next sign is if you have a harder time turning the burner on and off than sliding between settings. Of course, if you can see the crack in the plastic, there is no question.

So what do you do about that broken knob? You have a few options, both in the mean-time and to get that knob fixed. 

Remove and Clean the Knob & Post

The first thing you can and should do is to clean both the knob and the post. There’s a chance that a certain amount of grease and grit has gotten into the join between the knob and the post and it might be enough to cause significant problems. Cleaning the knob and post can also give you a clearer view of the problem and how you can solve it.

Burner switch knobs pull right off, directly away from the control panel surface. There’s no clip or latch, it should pull right off. From there, soak the knob in soapy water and scrub it with a dish brush. Clean the post and control panel with a sponge. You may realize that years of drips and food residue have been building up behind that knob and getting it clean is a side benefit of replacing or repairing the cracked plastic. 

Glue the Knob Back Together (Try at your own risk)

Epoxy glue is designed to seal two pieces of plastic together. The good thing about a crack in a solid knob is that the crack is clean. If you can get glue into that space, the knob will affix back together. So if your goal is just to get your burner knob back into service, you can easily do this with a little epoxy glue.

Line the glue into the crack and press the halves together for the amount of time indicated on your glue container. Then give your knob the rest of the curing time on your counter. When the adhesive is fully cured (the total time on the container) you can pop it right back onto the post and, if all went well, it’ll be good as new. Or at least as good as it was before it cracked. 

The biggest issue is the temperature changes that can occur at the knob as it can get very hot depending on the design and depending on the glue used, it could release unknown chemicals or fall apart again due to the temperature change.

There is no recommended glue from appliance manufacturers, they only recommend replacing the know with the same exact same design.

Replace the Plastic Knob

Of course, you may want to take this chance to make an improvement. Over time, burner knobs get more than dirty. They can get damaged, partially melted, and the numbers almost always fade or wear away. You can make an improvement by purchasing a new knob to replace the old one. Or even a whole set of knobs to replace each one on your stove.

You will need to look up the make and model of your stove and order burner knobs that match. That way, the range marked on each knob will be correct and the knobs will definitely fit on your posts. 

Turn the Knob with Pliers (Not recommended)

Keep in mind that turning a knob with pliers could damage the switch controlling the knob or damage something else entirely. The only time something like this should be considered is if the knob broke off while turned on, but another option to turn off the stove is to disconnect power and gas(if it’s gas).

Whether you are gluing your broken knob together or ordering a new one, there will be a period of time when your stove is knob-free. Don’t worry, you can still use your stove. Get yourself a pair of locking or needle-nose pliers and fasten them around the post. If you remember your approximate turns, you can estimate burner temp or just use that burner for boiling or low simmering at the ends of the twist-range.

What to Do If Fixing the Knob Doesn’t Fix the Burner Switch

The final test is when you place the newly repaired or replaced knob back on the post. Test to see if it turns correctly and feels like a firm grip on the post. From there, test to see if your burner reaches the right temperatures at the correct settings. Make sure your switch is correctly aligned and try cooking something you are very familiar with like eggs or simple toast to test the burner heat.

If the burner still isn’t working right, then there’s a good chance that the root of your problem is the burner switch itself, even if the knob was also broken. This is a far more involved repair and not all appliance owners are confident diving into the control panel. Join us for another repair guide to replace your burner switch. Or, if you’d rather a professional open up your stove, we would be glad to help take care of that as well. Contact our team to schedule a repair with a professional repair technician. We would be glad to hear from you. 


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