Wednesday, May 5, 2010

BlueStar update (after 9 months of ownership)

What? Another BlueStar update?

Unfortunately, about every 3 months I run into yet another problem that threatens to put an end to my use of the oven. I find it useful to keep track of these things both for the benefit of those in the market for a range and my own sanity.

It all started with a somewhat innocent problem of my glow bar (oven igniter) starting to die. The reason I knew this was happening was that the oven took longer and longer to turn on. Once it got to over 60 seconds, I knew I only had another couple of weeks of baking left. How did I know? I've baked in enough ovens to notice this pattern. My previous little Kenmore went through 4 glow bars in 8 years. The first time was bad because it died in the middle of a dinner party, but by the third time I noticed the pattern early enough to get it replaced a week or two before its final demise. I was sorely disappointed that the BlueStar glow bar lived only 9 months instead of 2 years, but consoled myself that at least it chose to die right before I went on a 2 week vacation.

April 3:
I called and e-mailed Eric at BlueStar immediately. It took 2 more calls to finally get it to ship.

April 14:
Vesco (my repair shop) got the parts and I scheduled them to come over the first day I was back from vacation (April 19).

April 19:
Vesco came over, took out the oven floor to replace the glow bar and told me that my oven bottom was falling apart and the back track fell off. They informed me that my oven was not safe to use and didn't want to put the new glow bar in until they got all the necessary parts to fix the oven bottom. That's kind of like going to see a doctor because you have a cold and finding out that you have pneumonia.

I contacted Eric at BS immediately. He replied asking for the inside color of my oven so that he can ship the correct parts. I keep contacting Eric daily to check on the status of my parts.

April 26:
Parts arrive at Vesco.

May 3:
Vesco came over. They took out the oven floor. It looked like 2 of the 4 rivots that were supposed to be holding the gas pipe to the back of the oven were missing.

Vesco installed the missing rivots. The oven floor was composed of 2 pieces: black on top (that's what you see when you open the oven) and silver colored on the bottom ( you don't see it unless you take apart the oven). The job of the silver colored piece is to distribute the heat evenly. It was attached to the black piece with 6 rivots in the front and 6 in the back. All 6 back rivots have melted away, letting the back of the silver piece drop down and direct lots of heat towards the bottom front of the oven.

the deformed metal pieces (bottom right of picture) is what was left of the back rivots

The new design of the oven floor is a bit different. The silver colored piece is attached to the black piece at the sides, not right where the heating element is. We are hoping that will prevent the rivots from melting.

I have a feeling that the melted hinges I got on my previous door were partially due to so much heat being directed at just that spot. Unfortunately, my new door has been exposed to the same problem for the past 2 and a half months. It's still opening, but not as smoothly as it did in the beginning. So, if you end up getting a new door, ask the technician to take apart the oven floor too to make sure it's still together.

Here is another anecdote. I was baking bread in the end of March and put my cast iron skillet on the oven floor to preheat for 20 minutes. The plan was to put ice-cubes into it to create steam when the bread went in. The handle of the skillet was positioned to the front of the oven so that I could get it out easily. As I reached to get it out, my oven mitts melted and stuck to it. Granted they were not in the best condition (the fabric had holes and the stuffing was exposed), I've never had them melt before. Unfortunately, there was no way to scrub the melted plastic off the skillet and I had to throw it away and get a new one. Luckily, cast iron skillets are cheap, though I'll miss years of seasoning I have accumulated on the old one. Still, it gave me some idea of what kind of heat my oven door hinges were exposed to.

The new oven floor and the new glow bar are now in place and the oven is operational. If you think that a month is too long to fix a 9 month old oven, I couldn't agree more. But keep in mind that the reason this story ended reasonably well (at least for now) is largely due to me having a direct contact at BlueStar -- his name is Eric, and he does his absolute best to solve my problems. I've heard of some people whose calls to the general customer support number are never returned. I feel your pain my fellow BlueStar cooks! If you need Eric's number, e-mail me. He is like Robert Parr (Mr. Incredible) of BlueStar :)


~M said...

Thanks for the updates!

Anonymous said...

I hope you haven't thrown the cast iron skillet with all that seasoning away! You can burn off the charred plastic with a $10 torch you can get at any hardware store. Just have a fan blowing at you so you don't breath the burning plastic fumes which are probably poisonous, but the around 2000 degree flame will take anything off the iron!

Helen said...

Hmm, the torch approach might work. But for $18 I got myself a new cast iron skillet. Not sure I want to expose myself to burning plastic fumes :) Nowadays, cast iron skillets come pre-seasoned. So after 2 weeks of cooking, it's already quite non-stick.

elbowelbein said...

Had the same problem Helen experienced. The rivets for the bottom of the oven floor melted, as did the rivets that held up the back support for the oven floor. All those parts came crashing down onto the oven burner. Upon contacting BlueStar about it, they reported knowing this was a problem in 'older ranges' (mine is 4 yrs old). I was surprised to learn this since there was no recall or notice of manufacturing failure. They offered to send out a new oven floor and special screws I could use to reattach the support piece. They refused to send out a technician to do the repairs - pretty sad on such an expensive piece of equipment. This was, after all, their manufacturing failure. Like the performance of the range, but have not been pleased with the quality control or the customer service.

Helen said...

It's so sad that they won't pay for a technician. So sorry to hear about your trouble. I would probably bite the bullet and pay for the technician to do it. We often had other problems uncovered by the technician that weren't obvious to us. If you want the name of the service rep who is the most helpful one there, send me an e-mail. I don't want to post his info on the blog. There is a possibility that they might cover the technician if you talk to him.

Unknown said...

The floor of my Blue star (after less then 3 years of owning), failed --all the rivets pooped off and the back support fell onto the flame---still trying to see if they cover repair as I believe it is defective, >I do cook pizza regularly in it but would think it should be able to take the heat.