The Fresh Loaf

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Experience with Oven malfunction?

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brakeforbread's picture
brakeforbread

Experience with Oven malfunction?

I was hoping some might have suggestions. I have a standard freestanding gas range/oven. Recently the electronic panel that operates the oven died. The gas range top still works. It's going to be close to $300 to replace the part on an oven that retails for about $550. I could upgrade to the same brand gas oven with convection for about $800 (good deal at a local place that sells scratch-and-dent stuff). But here is my concern, two different repairmen I talked to said that this just typically happens with these new electric control panels because they are not built to handle high heat and moisture. I of course am running my oven at very high heat (but come on, it's an oven) and high moisture (steam for bread).


Has anyone else encountered this? Would I be safer with an electric oven? The gas oven has always steamed well and vented well and I've never blocked the vents.


And, if I were to get a new oven, is convection worth the extra cost? How have other bakers liked the convection feature.


 


Thanks for your suggestions.

nguy78's picture
nguy78

 

I'm a repairman though not for home appliances and that sound like a load of hooey me, I think that the repairman is just feeding you a line because he doesn't know why the control panel went kaput.  Appliance manufactures and manufactures in general put a lot if time into designing the components they use in their products so thing just like this don't happen.  Yes electronics don't like heat, and heat is what usually causes them to go bad but it's rarely heat from an external source, usually it's from the heat generated by electricity. 

My guess is that if you were able to touch the controls of your oven without burning yourself on them then it's not because you oven is hot.  It's and oven and it's supposed to get hot. 

There is a distinct possibility that it could be something as simple as a blown fuse on the control pannel; most electronics have fuses internal to them that can be replaced if you know that they're there and where to look for them.

How old is the oven and what brand is it?

 

brakeforbread's picture
brakeforbread

The oven is only about 18 months old (whirlpool) came with the new construction house we bought. It was one step up from the more base model. Nothing too fancy, but does have the delay time features etc. on the control panel. I haven't opened up the back yet, but would be willing too if I thought I knew what I was looking for.

flournwater's picture
flournwater

What's the model number for your Whirlpool?


I have to agree with nguy78.  I am not a professional appliance repair person but I am an experienced electronics technician and I can tell you that most of the applicance repair people I've dealt with a parts changers.  They simply remove one part and replace it with another.  As nguy78 pointed out, there may be a circuit interruption feature on the circuit board that can be repaired (or perhaps simply an component failure at the power supply side) which can also be repaired.


If you understand electronics and are qualified to put your hands into electronic circuits without electrocuting yourself (it's not a place for the uninitiated) you may be able to fix it yourself.  I sometimes have difficulty in obtaining technical manuals on applicances that include schematics.  So I search the appliance repair forums and often find a repair professional who will share a pdf file or copy of the technical information I need to trouble shoot the circuit boards.  If you can read a schematic, that might be a good route to take.


Whirlpool has been designing cooking equipment for a very long time.  The "hooey" description of the story you've heard is consistent with my feelings.


In selecting a new oven, IMO a convection oven for bread baking isn't really worth the added cost.  Most convection ovens aren't any more sophisticated than having an accessory electric fan to blow the hot air around the oven cavity.  If you've got an oven that seals well and heats uniformly the convection feature really isn't necessary.  I have a GE electric range with an oven that is absolutely fantastic.  If I'm baking and happen to open the oven I have to stand back to keep my eye glasses from fogging from the steam that escapes the oven.  Never had an oven that functioned that well.  It also uses an alternating element heating process that alternately runs the upper (broiler) element for a portion of the time and then the lower element.  That keeps the heat even as I need it and turns out baked goods fit for a king.


One last point.  A lot of modern ranges and stand-along ovens have a small fan to pass air over the electronics to help keep them cool.  When your oven was operating, did you hear the sound of a ran running at any time during the baking cycle  -  especially after you had finished baking and the oven was in its cool down period?  Check your owners manual and see if it has any information about that feature.  If you have (or had) that feather and it failed it could have been the root cause of a circuit board failure.


 

audra36274's picture
audra36274

a GE Profile? My mother got a new one and SWEARS it doesn't bake her bread well??   ;)    I know, she is probably just not used to it, but to hear her talk..... I just wanted a second opinion from someone in the know. I know our oven is on it's last leg and I am glad this whole thing came up. No to convection you say? By the adds I thought that feature alone could save the world. sigh.. any thoughts?


  I agree with both of you "beware the repairman". Where we live it is hard to even get one to come out even if the appliance is under warrenty. Such a pain.


                                                    Audra

baltochef's picture
baltochef

As someone that has worked in bakeries, and in restaurants, I can say with authority that I would never spend the money on a convection oven that I was going to have in my own home..There is far more to go wrong with convection ovens, than there is to go wrong with a simple radiant heat oven..


A convection oven's claim to fame, and supposed metier, is to 1.) reduce the cooking times for foods that are baked in them, 2.) promote more even cooking within the oven by supposedly eliminating hot spots..While this is more, or less, true for shallow desserts ranging from wafer thin tuille cookies, up to cakes in pans that measure 1"-1.5" tall; in my professional experience convection ovens do not excell at baking thicker cakes in large diameter pans, nor do they do any better of a job at baking dense foods such as roasts or large loaves of breads..There seems to be a very fine line in every convection oven that I have ever used where the size / density of the food being baked in the convection oven negates its supposed advantages..In addition, every single convection oven that I have ever used has had hot spots in it just like every radiant heat oven that I have used; necessitating close attention to which rack in the oven the food was going to be baked on, as well as rotating pans and swapping shelf positions..Depending, of course, upon what was being baked, and the required finished appearance of that food..


The problem with most convection ovens is that the fans in them either cannot be turned off at all, or else the fan still runs at low rpm's when it is supposedly turned off..I would only consider purchasing a convection oven for my home if the time requirements upon my daily life absolutely demanded such an oven; and ONLY then if the fan in it was capable of being easily turned FULLY off..Being able to turn the fan off in these ovens increases their versatility by at least 100%..


One thing to consider with a convection oven is that its faster cooking times also mean that the baker has a substantially narrower window of time in which foods will begin to overcook in the oven..It is so, so easy to burn foods in convection ovens..Even for a baker like myself that practically has an electronic timer grafted to his body, the convection oven leads to a greater number of over baked foods, than does a radiant heat oven..


Unfortunately, in this modern day and age, convection ovens are what most manufacturers are offering the home baker..Radiant heat ovens, especially really good ones, can be as expensive as a commercial oven..For my personal use I would much rather invest in a good radiant heat oven equipped with simple dial control thermostats..This is what my next oven purchase will be..


Bruce

audra36274's picture
audra36274

I had heard only what the companies want the consumer to hear. "Speed of cooking time greatly reduced!" I hadn't thought of the other side of the coin. I'm glad I talked to you. I always try to read the comments from comsumers when I make any kind of purchase. But their are not many bread bakers that fill those out. Thanks for the inside info.


                                                                    Audra

rainwater's picture
rainwater

It's almost impossible to buy an oven without a digital control panel.  I remember when an oven could last a lifetime.  Now they design these control panels that cost almost as much as the oven to replace, and if any thing malfunctions it will be the control panel.....


I think ovens are better insulated now....except that I grew up with an old "Chambers" oven/stovetop that was designed to hold heat.....those old Chambers ovens took two or three people to move.....

xaipete's picture
xaipete

Unfortunately that don't make appliances like they used to. We have all new appliances and every one of them had at least one major problem within the first two years except my Ventihood!


Currently (for sometime now) my oven electronic pad will only go down in temperature regardless of whether you hit the up or down button. Fortunately, the "broil" function starts at 500 degrees. So I have to start with "broil", switch to "bake" and descend from there. "Bake" starts at 350 degrees.


I never bought warranties in the past, but now think that you have to purchase them and figure their cost into the purchase price of the appliance.


To me, at least, it seems like getting a 'lemon' is fairly common these days.


--Pamela

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Sorry Audra, I don't know if it's a "Profile"   -  nothing in my files includes that word in the description.  It is the JSP39 slide-in and I can attest only to it's worthiness in my kitchen.  I have not been a great GE fan during my years of experience with appliances but this one has earned a gold star at my house.


I bake my bread on the lowest rack position with a pizza stone to support the loaf and a piece of parchment between the loaf and the stone.  The parchment just makes it easier to slide the raw dough off of the peel.


Baking temperatures are typically 425 - 450 and I preheat the oven for 30 minutes before sliding the raw dough onto the stone.



Your mother may, in fact, have gotten something that got past quality control.  Might be worth checking it out yourself to see if pehaps she needs some repair or adjustment.  The oven door removal, replacement can be tricky and it it isn't done perfectly the gasket could leak so maybe you'd want to check that.


I chose the GE on the basis of two factors.  Something that met my personal needs and was reasonably priced.  I looked at the Dacor but was blinded by the price.


I also considered the Whirlpool but when I reviewed the complaints on its performance I decided to stay away from that one.


Incidentally, I use the self clean feature about every six months.  Always works just fine; no problems.

audra36274's picture
audra36274

the next time I go over. Her stove was about $2,500. Mine $699. and I can't see any feature hers has that mine does not. We all get starry eyed at those pro-sumer stainless steel numbers we see on TV, but when it comes down to it, they don't do anything that different. Or at least that's what I keep telling myself to keep my "wants" at bay since I can't afford one right now.  


                                                  Audra

mkelly27's picture
mkelly27

http://www.repairclinic.com/  I did mine and it wasn't hard or dangerous.  $92.00

deblacksmith's picture
deblacksmith

Sorry but I don't think that most of the electronic oven controls will really stand up to high temperature baking.  Keep in mind that very few people still do their own cooking today.  Sure they may heat up a few things, fry an egg but use a oven for baking bread -- you have got to be kidding.  We are on our second Whirlpool built in oven in this house in the last 4 years.  First one worked well until we used to Auto Clean feature that takes the oven to 700 F.  This cause the fan to fail and that cause the controls to fry dead.  I spent 30 plus years working with industrial controls and I know what fried is.  So my number one rules is never use the auto clean feature, the risk is just too high.  Cost to replace the control panel wholesale was 60 percent of the cost to replace the whole oven wholesale so I just did that.  So far the second oven has held up, but we never use the auto clean feature. 


The above was a built in electrical oven, (I did the installation, I am an qualified owner builder with both an electrical and mechanical background.)  We also have a Whirlpool gas free standing range with oven in the kitchen and so far it still works but it runs about 40 F low in oven temperature vs. set point.  While it too has an auto clean feature -- we have been careful to never use it.


Whirlpool's answer to me on this issue was that we have had some problems in this area but most folks don't use the auto clean feature within the first year of operation under warranty so we have limited data on failure rates. 


Want to buy a new oven?


Dave

flournwater's picture
flournwater

Thanks for that great link.


 


 

brakeforbread's picture
brakeforbread

That's the question. If I take the back panel off, how do I know if its a thermal fuse, or the control panel? I assume I will need some specialized electronic tools and meters? Any visual clues to look for?


thanks for the reponses and the convection oven thoughts. The more research I do online the more I see people having similar problems. And the more I realize I won't use the self clean feature ever - too many people doing that and frying the control panel.

mkelly27's picture
mkelly27

As shiny and modern as they may look on the outside, they are quite simple on the inside.  You didn't mention if you introduce steam into your oven while baking bread.  This is usually the bane of eleectronic control modules (it was for me).  When you look at the cost breakout of someone coming to your home to diagnose then replace/repair your appliance, it is sometimes cheaper to just plug in a new controller and call it good.  The site I linked to also gives you diagrams of your appliances.

breadman1015's picture
breadman1015

If you can grow a culture, you can repair the oven. Most assemblies are simple screw connection. However, I would definitely throw the main breaker on the oven circuit before I started to work.  I would suggest that  you go to the web site: repairclinic.com. They have simple instruction manuals and can supply you with the replacement controls. Their parts cost is significantly less than that of your local repair/replacement person and they generally have it in stock.  Replacement control panels for ovens/ranges are generally in the $125 range.

alconnell's picture
alconnell

Anyone with basic skills can replace oven parts if you know what is bad.  It is worth taking apart to see if you can figure it out, if you feel confident enough to do that.  Just turn off the power first!  As to GE Profile ovens, I have a dual wall unit, with convection on the top.  It cooks pizza and breads wonderfully- I use the  the lower unit because it is deeper.  The convection fan takes up a couple of inches.  My sister has an older version of the same oven and it has fried 2 or 3 control panels.  What is interesting here is that mine has a fan - not the convection one - that comes on as soon as the oven is turned on and stays on for quite a while after it is turned off.  I am sure it is to cool the panel.  I have never had a problem and can honestly say I love it. 

brakeforbread's picture
brakeforbread

After some wrangling, Whirlpool is covering the cost of the part (approx $200) as long as I go through an authorized dealer. So it's going to end up only costing me $79. So even if it only buys me another two years, it was a better deal than buying a new oven.


Thanks for all of the input, and the discussion of convection vs. standard. I think that is very useful info for many home bakers faced with buying a new range.

jeromethegiraffe's picture
jeromethegiraffe

Hi Brakeforbread!


I just wanted you to know that I would not recommend buying any electric convection oven with a touch-sensitive control panel.


 


I spent more than $1400 for my Whirlpool convection oven and it has been trouble ever since I bought it 2 years ago. It is simply not designed for the serious  home baker. Luckily, I purchased a five-year guarantee.


 


What happens is exactly what you described. Heat and steam build up behind the control panel as the convection is venting. The mix of heat, moisture along with sensitive electronic components is a bad engineering design.


 


We have had this appliance serviced many times and are now trying to get it to be declared a lemon so we can get our money back.


 


If we do get our money back, we will buy a basic electric oven with no control panel (if they still exist). Certainly, the combination of a control panel and convection designed like this one makes no sense at all.


 


When the stove malfunctions, the panel freezes up and is totally unresponsive when one tries to turn off the stove. So it remains on, and the only way to turn it off is by turning the breaker panel off, or pulling the stove away from the wall and unplugging it. Good thing it is not hard-wired and that I put it on wheels!


 


Anyways, wether you go with gas or electric, simple is best in my opinion. And I did not find the convection feature really made such a big difference in the "eveness" of the product. I still find myself moving loaves around just like before.


I think you will have better luck finding a good gas oven with no electric control panel. However, these are getting harder to find as well.


I am convinced it is a part of a plan to gouge consumers for expensive repairs and to make people throw away an otherwise perfectly good appliance just because the panels are so expensive to replace.


Stay away from Whirlpool, whatever you do,


 


And happy baking.