Avoid oven issues

Home appliance experts busy with repairs after the holidays

By Jodi Mohrmann - Managing Editor of special projects

We all want a clean oven, especially when preparing a big meal, but don’t chance running the self-cleaning mechanism right before an important get-together.

“One of the worst things you can do before a big family gathering is to run the self-cleaning feature on your oven. It will heat your oven up to a thousand degrees, and if you’re doing that right before you’re getting ready to use it, there’s a chance that you could burn out some of the heating elements and cause your oven to go kaput,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie's List.

Experts recommend a self-cleaning every four to six weeks when used regularly. You can go longer if you continually wipe up spills.

“We don’t want a lot of build-up before we do a self-clean. Self-cleaning cycles, you can adjust them anywhere from two to three-and-a-half hours. If you don’t have a lot of soil, set it for two hours and let it do its thing and you don’t have to worry about it,” explained home appliance technician Brad Taljonick.

The extreme heat of the self-cleaner makes it a fire risk, so don’t run it before you leave the house or while you sleep.

Another “oven don’t” is using aluminum foil as a drip pan.

“Sure, it prevents drips and what-have-you and makes cleaning easier, but it causes some problems as far as uneven heat, reflection because oven cavities are made to disperse the heat properly so we have even baking. So foil – not a good idea,” Taljonick said.

A couple of other expert tips: make sure the vents are clean and clear to maintain even cooking, and do not use spray cleaners around the control knobs. They can leak into the circuitry and short them out. A soapy cloth or sponge should do the trick.

Hicks says you should get seven to ten problem-free years out of a new oven when properly cleaned and maintained. If you have a gas oven and you start to notice a gas smell or uneven heating, it’s an indication of an ignitor problem and needs to be serviced.

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