Using Your Oven If The Outer Glass Broken – What You Need To Know

Your oven’s glass is designed to withstand high temperatures and last for the oven’s lifetime. Unfortunately, glass is still glass, which means that it can get broken or cracked. If this happens, you may be wondering if it is still safe to use your oven with the broken glass. 

You can still use your oven if the outer glass is broken, temporarily, at least. Most modern ovens have multiple panes of glass, so the heat should still be contained. To be safe, try to keep the temperature at or below 350℉ (176℃) and make sure the door isn’t dangerously hot to the touch.

This article will explain when you should and shouldn’t use your oven if the outer glass is broken throughout this article, as well as some possible causes for cracked or broken glass and tell you what you should do if your oven’s outer glass breaks. Let’s get started!

Should You Use Your Oven if the Outer Glass Is Broken?

If the outer glass of your oven is cracked or broken, you will have to determine if you need to repair it right away or if you can continue to use the oven temporarily.

You should not use your oven if the outer glass is broken. Even if the oven’s internal temperature remains consistent, the extra heat on the remaining glass could cause it to break, creating a genuine safety concern. However, big companies like GE cannot advocate for you to use equipment that’s damaged or not functioning correctly for liability reasons. 

So, I asked some experts to determine if it’s really safe or not to use an oven if the outer glass is broken. 

According to the service techs at Twin Cities Appliance Service, if your glass isn’t completely shattered, it should be safe to continue to use the oven until you can get it repaired or replaced. The reason for this is because your oven is made with more than one layer of glass. 

If just one layer is broken, there is still insulation to keep the heat inside the unit. 

I also consulted some experts on The Fresh Loaf forum for amateur bakers. Multiple users reported experiencing this misfortune, and all of them agreed that you can still use the oven if the outer glass is broken.

However, according to one baker, you should be advised that the heat from use can cause the crack to spread, or glass can break and fall out of the door. 

The only time you shouldn’t use your oven if the outer glass is broken is when…

  • You have small children. Curious hands and fingers could touch a hot surface, or the break could get worse. You don’t want to risk it in a home with little ones. 
  • The door’s exterior is very hot. If you can’t comfortably rest your hand outside the oven door, too much heat is escaping through the inner glass panels. In this case, you shouldn’t use the oven.

If you choose to use the oven, you should follow these safety tips: 

  • Inspect the door for damage to more than one layer of glass. If you find evidence of this, you should not use the oven.
  • Set the temperature to 350℉ (176℃), monitoring the glass for any additional damage or cracking. 
  • Carefully and gently place your hand over the oven door. If it does not feel too hot, it means that the oven is still retaining the heat. If it feels very hot to the touch, you should turn off the oven and wait for repairs. 
  • Closely monitor the oven door and continuously check for excessive heat on the outside of the door. Remember, even if it’s okay now, it could get worse later. It’s best only to use the oven if you absolutely need to, and only for a short time. 

What Causes An Oven’s Outer Glass To Break?

The glass in an oven door is very durable and can hold up to high temperatures, but sometimes it can crack or break. To understand why this occurs, we first need to discuss the type of glass used in most ovens. 

Tempered Glass

Most oven doors today have windows that are made with tempered glass, which is typically used in vehicles, entry doors, shower stalls, microwaves, skylights, and ovens. Tempered glass refers to glass that’s been heated and cooled rapidly to produce a compressed, strengthened surface.

The result of this thermal treatment is very strong glass. According to Scientific American, tempered glass is four times stronger than its regular alternative (known as annealed glass).

How Does Tempered Glass Break?

Despite the immense strength of tempered glass, it is still susceptible to breaking and cracking. There have even been reports of apparently “spontaneous” shattering in oven door glass in recent years. This can occur due to nickel sulfide inclusion, which is a microscopic flaw in the glass that you can’t see with your naked eye. 

According to Dr. John Berry, a science consultant specializing in this field, nickel sulfide inclusions are the “Achilles’ Heel” of tempered glass.

These defects cause a weak point in the glass where a fracture can begin and expand into a larger, spider web-style “shattering.” However, you shouldn’t worry too much because Dr. Berry also mentioned that these defects are quite rare. 

More likely causes of your oven glass breaking are due to impact or weakening from high-temperature self-cleaning cycles. 

Tempered glass can stand up well to significant impacts. 

That’s why if you see a vehicle that’s been in an accident, the windshield is usually broken to bits but still intact. Tempered glass breaks into tiny pieces that “stick” together instead of shattering into dangerous shards. 

However, this type of glass is susceptible to damage from repeated, more minor dings and impacts. The impact from a small surface area or pointed object can cause fracturing. 

The corners of your baking sheets or casserole dish handles might sometimes hit the glass of your oven door and cause these micro-fractures.

You should also take care with your oven racks, as the corners can strike the glass and concentrate the impact and cause failure. For this reason, you should never use the oven door to push your racks in. 

Always push them in entirely by hand before closing the door. 

Some experts also recommend avoiding using the self-cleaning feature on your oven due to the added stress from the excessively high temperature. This rapid heating causes expansion and strain on the oven’s internal components, including the glass. 

What To Do If Your Oven’s Glass Breaks

If the glass in your oven door breaks, the first thing you should do is check for any glass that fell out of the door. This is unlikely because of the way that tempered glass breaks, but it’s a good idea to be safe.

If the break occurred in the outside glass panel, check to ensure it’s still secure in the door and won’t fall out when you open and close the door. 

If you choose to use the oven, make sure that the external components do not get too hot to the touch that they could cause burns. 

How To Replace The Outer Glass In Your Oven

The good news is that if your oven glass breaks, you can most likely replace it instead of buying a whole new oven.

You can purchase specially-made tempered glass from a home improvement store or a glass specialist, and you can even ask them to cut it to size if the correct dimensions are not available. 

Once you’ve got the replacement glass, you can follow these steps to change the window out yourself: 

  1. Cut the power to the oven by turning off the breaker or unplugging the unit. 
  2. Lay down a blanket, towels, or other padded material on the floor. This will be where you place the oven door once it’s removed. 
  3. Put on protective safety gloves, like these G&F cut-resistant work gloves (available on Amazon). 
  4. Open the oven door slightly until it stops and is cracked open. Use your oven’s hinge locks, if applicable, or a small screwdriver to hold each hinge in place and keep the door open. 
  5. Firmly grip either side of the door and lift it straight up to remove it from the hinges. Place the door face down on your blanket or towels. 
  6. Using the matching type of screwdriver, remove the door handle. 
  7. Remove the inner door panel by removing the screws from the oven door’s bottom and setting this portion aside. 
  8. Remove the trim from the top of the door, which should slide out.
  9. Remove the broken glass from the door and carefully dispose of the pieces in a sturdy container. 
  10. Slide the new glass panel into place, taking care to fit the gasket and spacers and create a proper seal. 
  11. Put the inner door panel back in place and return the trim to the top of the door.
  12. Reattach the door handle and re-insert screws along the bottom to secure the door panel in place. 
  13. Line up door hinges with oven hinges and slide the door back into place. 
  14. Remove screwdrivers or release hinge locks. 
  15. Turn the power back on.