Fall foliage is at its peak, the air has a crisp coolness, and family and friends are gathering for your much-anticipated fall feast. You’ve measured, chopped and prepped all of the fixings, but have you given a second thought to your meal’s most crucial ingredient: your hard-working oven?
The holidays are one of the busiest times of year for appliance repair technicians, as people realize their stove or oven needs a tune-up at the last minute and scramble to get it fixed.
“On Thanksgiving Day and Christmas, we’re flooded with calls from people in need of oven and stove repair,” says Alex Trofimov, founder of the Bay Area’s Sunny Appliance Repair. “They suddenly remembered they knew how to cook!”
Trofimov says his repair techs and back office employees will be working hard over the next few weeks, and are even trying to take fewer days off to keep up with repair demands.
“The sense of urgency is very high this time of the year,” says Adam Butcher, vice president of Fred’s Appliance Academy in Cleveland, a school that attracts people from around the world to take intensive crash-courses in appliance repair.
“When it comes to the holidays, we teach that oven repairs are an emergency,” he explains.
Lay Off the Self-Clean Mode
Many people try to prepare for the holiday baking rush by self-cleaning their ovens so everything is spotless, but repair technicians agree that it’s one of the worst things you can do.
“The most stressful process you can do for an oven is put it in self-cleaning mode,” Butcher says. “Any weak parts are going to fail during self-clean, and there’s a good chance you’re going to lose your oven for the holidays.”
Self-clean mode can heat ovens hundreds of degrees hotter than the average 350- to 500-degree baking range. This can cause fuses to pop, control panels to burn out, and even make your kitchen smoky with burn-off from grease and food buildup.
“The most stressful process you can do for an oven is put it in self-cleaning mode.”
Butcher advises that self-clean mode should only be used when things get so out of hand that you’re unable to clean your oven by hand. Proper oven care, including removing any food residue when you’re done baking, will help ensure you’re never even tempted to use the self-clean mode.
When in Doubt, Run the Cookie Test
Aside from keeping up with regular maintenance and waiting to self-clean your oven until after the holidays, there’s a simple — and tasty — experiment you can run to make sure your oven is ready to go.
“Try baking a sheet of cookies. If something is wrong, you’ll know,” Butcher says. He often coaches his students to recommend the cookie trial run as a way to test out oven temperatures and baking times, especially when they are dealing with a skeptical or difficult customers.
A broken oven is a stressful situation for anyone, especially if you have a special menu in mind. Whipping up a batch of grandma’s chocolate chip cookies isn’t a bad way to revisit your baking skills, get in the holiday spirit and make sure your oven is working in the process.