Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Heroic Adventures In Oven Repair

The Critter

It's 3:59 in the afternoon, the day before Thanksgiving. My wife is upstairs, slaving away making pies, peeling potatoes, preparing all the fixin's for a Thanksgiving dinner she isn't going to enjoy because she has to work the next day.

I'm in the basement hiding.

Suddenly, out of the blue, comes the call:

"THE OVEN WON'T WORK! Can you come take a look at it?"

Deb and I stood before the gleaming but aging GE wonderoven, the second of our thirty-plus-year marriage, and thought about how to cook a turkey on a stick, over a fire in the firepit on the deck. The oven wouldn't turn on. I mean, what's THAT all about? I started to laugh. "Maybe Cindy next door will let us use her oven..."

Finally, the shock wore off and reality set in. I had to act--FAST! We were burning daylight. The Bartlett boys were coming to dinner tomorrow and they were not to be denied. The doggone BROILER worked, so why wouldn't that lower burner ignite when we pushed all the right buttons?? I suggested we try lighting it "by hand", a technical term my wife didn't like the sound of. That got her to dig out the oven operating instructions, which indicated in fairly strong terms that lighting the oven "by hand" was not recommended.

Ok. Get out the tools and start poking around. How do you take the door off an oven. I eyed the hinges and had a really bad vision: parts coming loose and sliding down inside the oven; having to remove side panels to reinstall; the works. Time enough to worry about the door later.

I managed to get the lower panel removed from the interior of the oven, turned on the oven light,and there before me was the critter pictured above, attached to the lower burner. I tried turning on the oven again, but the critter wouldn't heat up. I tried turning on the broiler, and the critter's brother, up there attached to the upper burner, lit up like a ceegar. So, thinking fast and furious, I concluded that maybe I had a burned out lower critter.

What to do? I called my appliance repair guys, hoping that I could buy my way out of this increasingly absurd situation. Of all the times for an oven to die. Egad. They were friendly--too friendly!--JOVIAL in fact. They just chuckled when I suggested that maybe they could, as a special favor to me, send out a techie guy. No, they're all home, preparing to enjoy the holiday. "Would Monday be ok?" They suggested I fix it myself. Somehow I knew that was the rabbit's hole I was going to dive down. I asked if they had the part. Yes, right here, and we close in twenty minutes. Just $76.95.

I didn't want to walk the dog anyway, which HAD BEEN the next item on my agenda. I drove up to get the part. By the time I got home Deb triumphantly declared she'd figured out how to remove the door. "Yeah, I know. Open it halfway and then lift. The parts guy told me all about it," I said.

The new critter came complete with handy instructions.

The first instruction read:
"Remove all parts necessary to provide access to defective igniter."
Sounds easy enough. Instructions, you gotta love them. And so began my odyssey into the layers-of-an-onion that is the nether regions of your modern oven. Good news? I needed just one tool to do the whole job, a quarter-inch bolt driver. So equipped, I began unscrewing this and unscrewing that, whipping out this chunk of sheet metal and that. Deb dutifully took them from me and opportunistically started washing them, as washerwomen are wont to do. And then scattering them around the kitchen in random order. What a team we are.

Five, six layers down, I finally unpuzzled my way to the floor. And there was my Precious, the little burned-out critter: my dead igniter: exposed for all the world to get at to remove the two obscure little screws that attached at an upward 45 degree angle rather than, more practically, downward where you could get at them without digging to China. It didn't matter: there were those two little white wires coming out of the back that had to be snipped, stripped, and rewired using the cute little ceramic wirenuts that came in the igniter kit. I snipped, dutifully. Then I read:
Instruction #5:
"Reattach the wires the same as the old igniter, using the ceramic wire connectors enclosed in kit."
Oops. Didn't quite notice which wire went where on the old igniter. Ah, doesn't matter, I'll just attach, and this....HERE. Good. Done. Daringly, without even reinstalling all of the scattered parts, I turned on the oven to see if the new critter worked. Nothing. I mean, nothing! Then, just as I was about to turn it off and do the ole switcheroo, bingo! Ceegar.
LIT ceegar! Damn. I'm good.

I started backing out of the cave feet first: attach the cigar to the mounting bracket, then the bottom most sheet, attached with two screws at the front underside, then the mounting brackets at the back, then the next two sheets, then the two funny weird ones in front, which fit sort of tightly and screwed into the sides, then reattach the front of the burner, then....a few extra screws here, hm....then finish it all up and get the hell out.

Some serious cat toy equipment was found on the floor at the bottom of the oven. No loose change. But five minutes after completion, we had lift-off!

I glanced at the Igniter Kit instruction sheet one more time, and happened to notice a
WARNING! "Electrical Shock Hazard. Disconnect power supply before servicing!"

The Happy Results


revwmack said...

And....."when Mama's happy, EVERYBODY'S happy!"
God bless your Thanksgiving.
In Him Who provides all goodness.
Pr. Bill Mack:)

Unknown said...

I am very impressed! Glad it all turned out well.

Another Kerner said...

Wow... Details, details...

And Danger, danger...

It is a good thing that the Lord has His eye on every sparrow and on you, Bruce....

When son Attorney Bill decided a while back that he could save a few
bucks if he replaced the gas hot water heater in his basement himself, wife Janet protested and then took all of the children outside to wait in the front yard until the project was finished....

I give thanks to Almighty God that both you and Bill lived to see another day.