Monday, March 1, 2010

BlueStar update (after 6 months of ownership)

It's time for another BlueStar update. It's been 6 months since I bought this pro-style range. It took months of research and sleepless nights to make this decision. If you are not in the market for a range, you'll probably find this post very boring. Come back in about a week when I'll post something yummy.

Let me start with the good news. I have never had to change my dinner plans or cancel a class due to the range becoming completely dys-functional. The range also cooks and bakes exceptionally well. The stove top gives me control from the lowest low to very high and everything in between. The oven bakes evenly and holds heat well. The convection fan gives me that extra boost of browning when I need it.

Now the bad news. The reliability has been atrocious.

In my last post, I mentioned the jet engine noise the oven made after being on for about 30 minutes at high temperature (400F or higher). The first service call from Vesco (the only service company I am allowed to use if I don't want to null and void my guarantee) blamed it on the propane company. They wouldn't even stay long enough to reproduce the problem and their propane pressure meter was broken, but they said it can't possibly be the range. My propane pressure is likely dropping sometimes, causing the noise, they said. The propane company came and did a ton of tests and reproduced the problem several times. It was not the pressure at all. It was the range. I was lucky they took pity on me and didn't charge me for the long service call that turned out to not be their fault at all.

One good thing about BlueStar's terrible reliability is that it puts you in touch with long lost friends. I got an e-mail from Mark, who was my partner at CIA (Culinary Institute of America), and he said he just bought a BlueStar too and it was making the same noise. He was googling for this issue and came across my blog. What BlueStar said to both of us is that the pipe that sends propane to the stove gets warped out of alignment when the oven heats up. This results in propane igniting in the wrong place and making very loud noise. Luckily, they had a solution handy -- a small piece of metal to keep the pipe in place. The Vesco guy came out, put it in place and the noise stopped. Why don't they put it on all their ranges to begin with? That piece of metal couldn't possibly cost more than $10.

All was well in my kitchen until around December (4 months after I bought the range). The door started sticking. I heard about this happening and googled for a solution. EuroStoves, who is a big BlueStar retailer, and the leading expert on it, explained in one of its instructional videos that you should spray the hinges with Pam every once in a while to keep the door operating smoothly. I tried Pam. It helped. But a week later the door was getting badly stuck again. I kept spraying it with Pam (at some point, I had to do it every 2 days). And one day, I couldn't open the door at all to get something out of the oven. After turning the oven off, and pulling for 5 minutes, the door finally opened. But as you can imagine, that's not a very good situation to be in. I called BlueStar. They said they'll send me a new door. They said they have a better design now that prevents the hinges from overheating and deforming (my left hinge was in pretty bad shape). Now the door has ventilation holes not only on top, but on the sides too.

A month later, the new door finally arrived and got installed. Meanwhile, it was a lot of Pam, tagging, and pulling. I asked to get a year guarantee on the new door. It's only been in existence for 1 year, and they said most people don't have any problems with doors for 1-2 years. Considering their quality assurance record, I thought I should at least get 1 year guarantee. They said it's only 90 days or until my regular guarantee runs out (which is in August 2010). After that, they claim they've been sending free doors to customers who have problems up to 4 years, but won't cover the installation. It's hard to say whether that was a real guarantee, or just some temporary policy. If I didn't use my oven 5 times as much as normal cooks, I'd be worried. But I am hoping I'll start seeing problems if any before August 2010 since I use the oven every day.

I wonder what they'd say if I started having door problems after my regular 1 year guarantee ran out? I might be on my own, which would be very costly. The door is around $500, plus $125 for installation.

Hope this post was helpful to all you guys who've been contacting me with BlueStar questions. By the way, if you need a good contact at BlueStar, it's Eric. Calling the general number is useless. If you need his direct number, send me e-mail. I don't feel it's right to just post it on the web. Good luck and I feel your pain!


Kalyn Denny said...

Interesting. I'm sorry to hear it's been a mixed bag for you. I was in the market for a pro range, and after probably not doing as much research as I should, I got a Thermador Pro Harmony 36 inch with six burners. It's still in the process of being installed, so I don't know if I'll have issues, but so far I think I'll love it.

Hope all your issues will get ironed out!

Ken said...

That's pretty apalling customer service :-O
Are there any pro ranges w/ decent CS and reliability? :-P

Helen said...

with decent CS -- yes (Wolf and probably others), with decent reliability -- no. They all pretty much suck. I chose BlueStar because it's the simplest, has the features I want and none that I don't, and also the cheapest of them all.

Chris Shenton said...

I got a BlueStar 6-burner cooktop when it first came out. Have had zero problems; it's a pleasure to cook on. Not as complex as an oven, I suppose.

Anonymous said...

Interesting... especially your note on research obsession and sleepless nights while deciding - that's where I am now :)

I've narrowed my 36" all gas four burner with grill decision to either BlueStar or Wolf.

With your experience, are you wishing you had instead bought Wolf? Or, would you make a recommendation to me, or indicate which attribute or variable deserves greater weighting? (FYI, I do a lot of wok cooking and some fish grilling... and my wife does more stews/soups/pastas).


Helen said...

Hi there,

If you are just getting a cooktop (no oven), I'd definitely go with Bluestar. Better performance than Wolf, easier to clean, cheaper, and no major reliability problems. I would just order a couple of extra ignitors (they are cheap), so that if one breaks, you have a spare. If you are getting an oven too (or a range), that's where it gets tough. Although bluestar oven is huge and bakes beautifully, that's where I had non-stop problems, and so do many other users. Jet engine noise, loud banging due to metal warping, door getting stuck, etc. I don't think the benefits outweigh the risks when it comes to their ovens.

Shoefly Studios said...

I've had a 30" BS range for 5 years and can't say that I love it. The top has great range from barely on to raging inferno, which is great. The thermocoil needed to be replaced about 18 mos. ago. Now, the oven door won't close all the way, leaving a 1-1 1/2" space at the top. Prizer Painter hasn't been very responsive. I wouldn't get another one...

Canada said...

About 2 months ago we bought a Blue Star 36 inch. It has been a nightmare! We would NEVER wish this product on anyone.

We are fighting to get our money back, but the retailer says he cannot get his money from Blue Star, and the Canadian distributor for Blue Star says it is the responsibility of the retailer.

We also agonized over this purchase, then spent a considerable sum for this "high end" product, and are sorely disappointed.

Upon delivery the cast iron grates were badly chipped.

The burners did not light properly (releasing too much gas before spark resulting in big poof to start), and did not turn off properly (another poof to end).
The knobs are inset too far, so we cannot read the indicators.

The oven casing expands upon heating resulting in a large "bang" sound as it expands each time.

Blue Star has sent replacement grates, new knobs and replacement burners. The tech has struggled to install these correctly - to no avail. They have been out twice - so far.

Blue Star's recommended "fix" for the knobs was to stuff PAPER into them so they sit out further!

The new grates do not fit into the cook top properly. It is so tight now we cannot remove them for cleaning, and the trim sits askew. Another manufacturing defect.

When the tech left last time, we continued to smell gas, and were forced to turn off the main gas valve at the wall. When he called the next day, the tech postulated that this was due to the stupid "paper fix" for the knobs pressing on the valve, releasing gas slowly.

We are continuing to fight through this problem. We have lost faith in the quality, and SAFETY of this product.

Helen said...

Hi Canada,

Just want to say how sorry I am about your range! I feel your pain. I don't know if this is of any help, but after 6 visits from our tech, here are some things that I've learned.

Make sure the igniters for the burners are not shorting. You need to wrap electric tape around the wires to make sure they don't touch metal. Here is a post my husband wrote about how to fix a bluestar igniter. As far as the oven banging when it heats up... It depends on what oven floor design you have. Our original one completely fell apart and we got a new one designed differently that hasn't broken yet. Here is a post about the oven floor that might be useful to you.

Also, I don't mean to add to your trouble, but even if your oven door doesn't stick yet, start greasing it once a month NOW. We are now on our third door and it's the longest we went without trouble. They said they started putting it in the manual, but I am not sure how many people follow it. Here are the details on greasing.


Helen said...

Hi there again Canada,

About getting your money back. Don't take "no" for an answer just yet. Look into consumer protection laws in Canada. Write threatening legal letters to your retailer. It's their problem to get their money back from bluestar.

I can't say we succeeded with that, but we tried. Unfortunately, the retailer who sold us our range went out of business a few months later :(

Best of luck to you and let me know if there is anything I can do to help.


cindeyella said...

I'm from toronto and recently purchased a Bluestar range over 2 months ago. I must say that CS from Bluestar has been full of crap. Our range arrived dent, with the wrong trim (they gave us an island trim, but we requested 6" back trim), uneven oven door, back panel badly scratched. A "tech" came a month ago ( by the way, his name's Ian), replaced some parts, but the original problems still there: he didn't bring the correct trim, door is still uneven after replacement of the door). He didn't bring his own tools, ended up using our blade and broke it, also damaged our kitchen tile when he dropped the back panel. We have been trying to contact Bluestar to address the problems through our retailer in canada but no reply. Recently i found out that there is a Bluestar facebook page by accident, i made some general comments about their after service, but my comment (along with other ppl's) were deleted twice. I guess they can't take any criticism. Is there any way i can get through the service directly? All i really want is the right trim and a range in its decent shape!

Helen said...

Hi there Cindeyella,

Sorry to hear about your Bluestar trouble. If you need a customer service contact, send me an e-mail at helenrennie AT gmail DOT com


Daniel said...

I also did a lot of research and chose a blue star 36 6 burner. When it came time for install the range would not fire up. Nothing worked. I was so disappointed as this was the last thing in a 6 month remodel. BlueStar refused to believe it was the range. My plumber, my rep, my customer service rep, the tech bluestar sent out all said the same thing.......... its a faulty regulator in the range. NO WAY said bluestar,,,, its the propane pressure or your line is clogged. So I had my propane company come out and do a pressure test and amazingly it read 11.5wc. Perfect for the range. Bluestar still said NO WAY...... its your line. We will send out the tech again and he will bring a small tank and hook it up and show you that it works. So he did. We hooked it up and walah! no fire. LOL We had bluestar on the line at the time and he told them to please send him a new regulator. They said not yet. They wanted to try some other things. The tech finally got a bit upset and told them he is going to take the regulator off and hook it up to see if it fires up. Once we finally got the regulator off.... it fired up instantly. The tech said " can you send me a new regulator now? " BlueStar finally conceded and sent us a new regulator. This whole thing took over 4 weeks. 4 WEEKS to bring my remodel now to over 7 months!!! Once the new regulator came we hooked it up and the range works unbelievable. However....... did BlueStar send me anything as a customer service courtesy? Like a set of cookware? or something nice for putting me through all of that? Ya, they send me something.......... a bluestar cap, bluestar oven mits and a bluestar coffee cup. LOL Really lame At least I am really happy with the performance of the range. Bluestar needs better customer service. I have been in the customer service industry for 25 years. I would have for sure sent something nice.

Helen said...

Hi Daniel,

So glad your bluestar is finally working. can't imagine how frustrating it must have been (actually, I am probably one of the few people who can!). Most people think I am kidding when I tell them my bluestar stories.


Daniel said...

Thanks Helen! It was beyond frustrating as you well know. But yes, at the end of the day it really is an awesome range. I would put three 22k burners in front though if I had it all to do again.
Cheers to all and happy cooking

Anonymous said...

I am planning to buy a Bluestar 6 burner RCS Gas range in Canada.The sales person was telling the oven door gets heated when used,is it true as you all have a bluestar range and he was teliing me to go for Capital I am not sure on it.Would like feedback pls

Helen said...

Yes, the door on BS range gets extremely hot when the oven is on. If you have little kids, you have to be careful that they don't touch it.

Barbara said...

Costco sells BS. What do you know about the quality of these ranges from Costco?

Helen said...

I have no idea is Costco ranges are in any way "special". All I can say is that stove top is great, the oven is horrible (6 doors and 2 oven bottoms in 2 years).

ibcheft said...

I have been looking for several years for a new stove, I have a GE 30" and want a 36 or larger 6 burner. I keep going to different web sites, different stores, but not seen a Bluestar I have read lots of good reports but sure am glad I ran across yours, seems there might be a draw back to buying one of these, even if they are assembled in the US. I been trying to go to their website but will not load, and went to supplier, it said they were temporarily unavailable, wonder now if some thing is going on with the company ?

Lake cook said...

Have had a bs for 4 years, have replaced e igniter and the plug for one burner, both times the serves people were great, the stove is the best, has had very heavy use, the clean up is better than any other, no other problems, best high heat and low heat. When using the oven it does heat up the kitchen because it is so big, have another smaller oven so its not a bother. Wouldn't have anything else.

Anonymous said...

Have owned a 6 burner RCS series for over three years now. At the time it was shipping with an 18000 btu power burner. Yes the oven thumps when it heats up. Never had any problems with the door or burners. LOVE cooking on this range/burners. Has been flawless for me.

Anonymous said...

Hi - Just wondering if you're still having issues with your BlueStar. I'm looking into purchasing one and am interested to see if the issues you've experienced have been resolved. Thanks!

Helen said...

Yes, they have :) Here is an update:

Helen said...

Hi Kevin,

That's just awful. Send me an e-mail and I'll give you the contact info for my rep. Maybe he'll listen.
helenrennie [AT] gmail [DOT] com

Nhi said...

I've been reading so many posts/blogs to find the solution for the gas smell when I initially turn on my blue star oven. I've had so many service calls to try to fix it, that I finally decided to love with it until I had an energy efficient guy come out who told me the carbon monoxide reading was so high that his meter could not measure it anymore ( and this reading remained high after the oven was on for awhile). Just wondering if you know the solution here? Any help is greatly appreciated. Nhi

Helen said...

Unfortunately, I don't know of a solution to the carbon monoxide problem. Mine smells in the beginning. The energy efficient inspector told me it's on the high side, but not terrible and said to stay away from the oven for the first 5 minutes of it being on. I have a feeling yours is a lot worse. I'd report it to Bluestar and ask them to send a repair person. Of course, you might have already tried that.


Marion said...

I installed a BS 24" gas wall oven in my kitchen remodel last week. The oven takes forever to come to temperature-30 to 60 minutes. I barely make it thru Thanksgiving. The last time I turned the oven on I smelled gas. I will call the gas company first thing Monday. I was wondering if I might have your contact at Blue Star because I anticipate issues with BS judging from your experience & in addition to other owners' posts.
Thank you very much!

Marion said...

Hi Helen-
I own a BS gas wall oven that does not come to temperature & now has strong gas odor when I turn it on. I have not turned it on again-will call gas co first thing Monday. May I please have your BS contact?
Thank you!

Helen said...


Please e-mail me at helenrennie AT gmail DOT com

I can't post my rep's contact info on-line.


Tiffany said...

As with others, I'm considering a BlueStar. I bake every day and am wanting a 30" residential oven that fits the full size baking sheets.
I have no idea what to conclude about BS. The comments are either horrible or wonderful! It's now 2014 and after at least 4 years of issues, do you think BS has worked out any of these (many) kinks?
I want to be swayed to buy the BS but admit, I'm nervous! Help!

Helen said...

Hi Tiffani,

My oven works fine now. I 5 tries, I finally got the parts that work, BUT I still have e-mails with horror stories from people who bought within the last year. I would recommend bluestar for the cooktop, but not the oven, especially if you bake on regular basis.


Lucy V said...

I agree with Tiffany. I am searching for a cooktop and thought I found exactly what. I was looking for until I saw these reviews. So glad for everyone who took the time to give input. Anyone have a suggestion for a six burner pro, gas cooktop, up to 42 inches?

Helen said...

Hi Lucy,

The cooktop is not bad at all. All the problems are with the oven. If you can get a separate oven, Bluestar might be a great choice :)


Anonymous said...

I came across your blog. I too, am a CIA graduate. I don't work in the industry anymore, but I want the kind of performance that we experienced at the CIA. I want to experience Asian Kitchen all over again. I have had a Wolf which was nice but nothing extraordinary. I would buy it again. However, the Bluestar option is intriguing. I currently have a Thermador cooktop. It's really average. I can't say I like it. I want something that will get me good performance. I want to be able to stir fry and sear. Thanks for the remarks. Your experience seems to mirror other comments on the web. I think I'll spring for the range top and forget the oven. I have room for a double oven elsewhere.

Helen said...

That sounds very reasonable. I've had my BS for 5 years now. Still love the cooktop and had no problems with it. Oven trouble continues, though after 5 doors and 3 oven bottoms, my problems are becoming more rare and tolerable.

Bruce Milne said...

I've had my 36" blue star freestanding range for a few years, and just love it. Yes, I've had some issues: needed to change some spark ignitors, glow ignitors, and the whole spark module (which works even better now), and currently the chargrill in the middle is not working. After taking it a part a few times, it seems the single thermo valve needs to be replaced.

BUT, unlike others that have had to have computers replaced in their stoves, these are EASY to take apart and replace parts on! 6 screws and the whole chargrill is apart. That is a wonderful thing. Yes, I'm mechanically inclined, but I have a high performance tool, which can be worked on by anyone.

Others considering purchasing one of these, especially with the chargrill, need a good hood fan setup. I cut my own 10" hole in my wall , sourced and installed my own 1200 cfm hood with external fan myself, which is required, and not just anyone would feel ready to do. But again for me, it's a killer setup which is attainable if you can put the effort in.

Anonymous said...

Try the Verona I have heard great things about it.

Anonymous said...

So it is 2016 any better news about BS? I was considering it as a gas wall oven. I am renovating a kitchen. Thought to go with the Miele 36 inch gas oven range-hope it is good and welcome any reviews before I go forward. I still need a 30 inch gas wall oven and the reviews and complaints for AR & BS are still confusing and dismal.

Any suggestions? Nicole

Helen said...

I posted lots of updates over the years. Here is the final one (probably the only one you need to read).

Unknown said...

Our 36" BS cooktop has has needed service every year for three year. Cooks great but quality is abysmal.

d l nuzum said...

I've had a 36" BS for maybe 20 years. I've probably gone through 10 or 15 igniters at approx. $20 a pop. I've installed 3 oven igniters. I've had to patch the cast iron burners because the castings have some very thin walls here and there and holes developed in them. I used wood burning stove patch. I've been blessed with a functional oven door (knock on wood), however, when installing the oven igniters you have to remove the door. It is the biggest pain in the arse getting it back on. Truely one of the worst designed doors ever.
Summary: If Whirlpool, Kenmore, and GE can make a stove that never breaks down, never needs igniters, and doesn't grow holes in their burners, ... at 10% the price, why can't BS? It's absurd how much time I put into this thing. And... some of the problem is their fancy burner ignition system. The sparking stops when it ignites. Automatically. I really don't mind a manual spark system. They almost never need to be replaced. Heck... I'd prefer a pilot light for both oven and upper burners.
Would I buy another BS? No. It's great when it works, but I work on it all the time to keep it working and I've shelled out a lot of cash for parts. I'm hoping that some day there will be a catastrophic failure and I can justify buying a new range. Probably not Wolfe... even more automated-bs. I might have to go antique.