Thursday, June 4, 2009

Range Saga, part 5 -- parts

There was an article in NY Times recently on appliance repair. You might need an account to view it, but here is the bottom line. The more complicated the appliance, the more it breaks and more expensive it is to fix. Here is one statistic that I found astonishing:

"And pity the purchasers of side-by-side refrigerators with ice machines and dispensers: after three years, 37 percent of them needed service."

Statistics like that on the ranges would be handy. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find any. All I have to go by is opinions. Most appliance repairmen that I called warned me to stay away from Kenmore Elite. It's an Electrolux product they warned me -- expect things to break. "But it's such a common brand," I thought. "Surely, if things were to break they can fix it in a day or two." This isn't like Wolf or BlueStar, where you have to mail order parts. As it turns out, not so fast. D + TW's brand new Kenmore Elite fridge broke, and it took weeks of frustrating phone calls and part shipping to get it fixed (actually, when I saw them on Tuesday, it was still broken, but the technician was coming the next day). D + TW, if you are reading this, I hope your friedge is doing better. Most technicians that I called said that they don't stock electrical control panels for ranges. They'd have to order them. This means more waiting. Unless, I pre-emptively order an extra panel for about $250.

All appliance guys were pointing me to GE. "They make the best electronics," they said. But with enough heat, even the best electronics can get cooked. Hopefully, they'd get cooked slower with GE than with Kenmore, but it is still wise to have an extra panel on-hand. Trouble with GE is that I hate the new grate design on the Profile. They made it all diagonal and curvy and moved the burners around in such a way that if you place a 12 inch skillet on the front burner, it hangs over the controls.

Something occured to me when I was thinking about ordering the electrical panels for Kenmore and GE. What if I called BlueStar and asked what parts I might need on hand and how much they would cost. From everything I read on-line, the ignition trouble seem to be most common. If it's the burner ignitor that dies, I can always light burners with a match, but if the oven ignition dies, I'll be ovenless. I called BlueStar and what do you know, these parts are very affordable. Here are the rough prices:
  • Oven and broiler ignitors - $63 each
  • Burner ignitors - $22 each
  • Shipping is $12
I say it's totally worth keeping at least one oven and one burner ignitor on hand. Matt from BlueStar was even nice enough to say that if they need to be used within the first year (while the range is still under warranty), they'd be willing to credit me back the cost of the part. I even found a handy video from on how to work with a BlueStar (including changing the spark unit, adjusting air shutter, cleaning, etc).

I never thought I'd say that, but BlueStar is starting to look not all that unreliable compared to main stream ranges. Luckily, there are very few parts and no electronics. If I have the most common parts on hand, maybe it's not all that risky. I am sure GE would be more reliable if I got the basic cheapy range with no electronics. But those seem to be all but extinct for the island fit. They would also only give me 8,000btu on propane. I was hoping for at least 9-10K. The last electronics-free island GE range that I tried to order had open burner, so there was hope that they'd be adjustable to higher output, but I wouldn't bet on it.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Our fridge was fixed yesterday! We're delighted (and relieved).

The idea of keeping parts on hand is actually quite brilliant! Ever since reading about cooked electronics on your blog I've been fretting about our Kenmore Elite dying on us - I'm sure it won't take long given that we beak 2-3 loaves of bread it in every week (on very very hot) and generally use the daylights out of it. I'm going to consider ordering a spare panel...