How to Fix Oven Racks that Don’t Fit

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Oven racks are supposed to sit level at any height inside your oven. The inside of the oven has grooves along the sides to provide tracks for these racks. Each oven comes with one to three racks (usually two) that already fit perfectly inside the oven dimensions and should sit perfectly flat when supporting cooking food. But this situation does not always last.

Why, if the oven racks were built for the oven, will racks eventually stop fitting at all? Sometimes, it seems that your oven racks shrink – you can’t get them to stay upright inside the tracks and they are constantly falling out. In some ovens, the racks seem to grow and won’t quite go back in through the door.  In others, the rack goes in but it’s clearly no longer holding food level -there is a distinct wobble in the rack.

What has happened? We can tell you by helping to identify each of the symptoms. Let’s look into what is wrong with your oven racks and how to fix the problem. 

Heat Warped Oven Racks

One of the most common causes of oven racks that no longer fit is heat warping. Not all alloys or molds made as oven components are perfectly balanced and if there is an imbalance in the metal, it can warp in extreme heat. Since ovens create extreme heat, sometimes metal objects warp. You have, no doubt seen the occasional lightweight cookie sheet warp in the heat. Some oven racks are no different. They will twist and warp when high heat distributes unevenly through the metal.

Repairing warped oven racks is a temporary measure. you have the option of bending them back into shape with pliers and force. This will return the oven racks to use, at least temporarily. However, the metal that warps is likely to warp again. putting it back into approximately the same shape and flatness will not stop the metal from warping inside the oven when exposed to high heat. 

Bent or Twisted Oven Racks

Bent oven racks are far easier to deal with because the problem is one of simple mechanics. Oven racks could be said to be made of very thin bars or very heavy gauge wire, depending on your perspective. Either way, oven racks can be bent back into their original shape with the help of mallets, pliers, or a good point of leverage.

The question is only how your oven rack was bent and your method of bending it back into the proper shape. An oven rack bent by an impact can often be fixed with the careful application of broad force, while an oven rack damaged by a sharp blow can be bent back into shape with pliers. A mechanical problem can almost always be fixed with the application of a little equal and opposite force. 

Oven Walls Got Further Apart

Here’s a common and puzzling problem: Maybe your oven walls got further apart. Ovens can also warp or expand in the heat they create. It’s actually surprisingly common for an oven to expand inside like a square balloon, inflating slightly over time. Enough inflation and your once-fitting oven racks will start to act like they are too small, always falling to one side or falling out entirely.

Fortunately, this is one of the easiest problems to cope with, even though it is impossible to repair. Simply widen your oven racks. Some people weld an extra bar onto the outside, some twist a double-bar with pliers so it faces outward. If you don’t care to do either, four metal paper-clamps (the triangular kind with folding handles) can extend the width of your oven racks with some versatility and no welding required.

You can also choose to purchase larger oven racks based on the new dimensions of your oven. Take a measuring tape and find the distance between the walls of the oven, Be sure to measure the top, middle, bottom, front, center, and back, as the balloon effect can change the dimensions along these lines. Then simply order replacement oven racks that fit these dimensions. Most ovens do not have any special mechanisms so any oven rack brand or model will do if it fits. 

Oven Rack is Too Big for the Oven

Far less likely, but occasionally possible, is that your oven racks have somehow become too big for your ovens. More commonly, you may find yourself with oven racks that are a size or two too big for your current oven aperture. You have a few options here depending on how much you are comfortable altering metal racks in a home workshop or hiring a metalworker to make the alterations.

Measure the width of your oven along several axes to discover the required dimensions of an oven rack for your oven. Then measure the oven racks you have. Removing a rung and defining a new outer line can shrink the rack appropriately, or you can bend the ends of the racks so that they end earlier than they had before. Alternately, you can purchase smaller oven racks based on the new measured dimensions. 

Oven Racks Should Fit but Won’t Go Back In

Lastly, you may have taken out your oven racks for some time and now can’t fit them back in. The racks are still about the right size, but they stick at the entrance or a specific point and won’t go in any further. This can happen if the oven racks are out of the oven when the oven changes shape. It may have been an impact on the frame or heat warping.

If the racks just barely don’t fit, coat the outside of each rack bar with oil. Canola oil, olive oil, any kind of cooking oil will do. This will give your rack just a little bit more slide and help them fit back into the oven. Pick your best heights to place the oven racks and you won’t have to worry about getting these racks into or out of the oven often.

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