Scunthorpe caretaker manager Russ Wilcox sealed his third win in three against struggling Torquay.
Sam Winnall scored his ninth of the season early on when he turned on the edge of the six-yard box to rifle home.
Torquay's Anthony O'Connor headed into his own net to double the Iron's lead before Hakeeb Adelakun struck a third.
The visitors found it difficult to trouble the home side but did manage a consolation when John Marquis' shot inched past goalkeeper Sam Slocombe.
The win sees Scunthorpe rise to fourth in the table, one point off top spot, whilst Torquay now lie bottom of League Two.
Scunthorpe United caretaker manager Russ Wilcox told BBC Radio Humberside:
"It was a hard-fought win, I thought we certainly weren't at our best. We looked a bit nervous, but whether it's playing at home again I'm not sure.
"The first five minutes it looked a bit edgy - we looked like the team that was struggling at the wrong end of the leagye.
"We had little spells, little pockets in the game where we did show some good quality but it was a really tough game.
"We shouldn't worry about anyone in this division. If we can produce performances and work as hard as we do then we can beat anyone in this league. "
Scunthorpe United 01 Slocombe 02 Ribeiro 18 Nolan 04 McAllister (Collins - 55' ) 05 Mirfin 06 Canavan 14 Hawkridge 24 Syers 08 Burton (Spencer - 76' ) 29 Winnall 27 Noble-Lazarus (Adelakun - 55' ) Substitutes 09 Iwelumo 13 Severn 15 Waterfall 16 Adelakun 19 Collins 28 Spencer 30 Williams Torquay United 13 Rice 02 Tonge 21 Cruise Booked 36 Mozika 29 O'Connor 04 Downes 20 Craig 07 Mansell 26 Benyon (Stockley - 64' ) 16 Marquis 12 Chapell Substitutes 01 Poke 05 Pearce 09 Hawley 10 Bodin 17 McCourt 19 Stockley 31 Sullivan
Ref: Steven Rushton