Holidays are coming, tune up that home range!!!
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Great Home Cooking by Maintaining the Home Range

Well a little weather has been coming in on top of us lately here in Grand Junction, Colorado. So I had to get to the maintenance routines. It had been a year since I calibrated the oven range and leveled it. Many many home cooks get poor results because they fail to do some basic
maintenance required every year. Easy to perform, fairly quick and it will improve the results you get from your cooking appliance.

First a picture of a larger project I did this weekend. I converted our wood fireplace to gas. We still have the woodstove to pound a couple cord per month through for heat. But I got tired of the mess and time it takes to deal with the wood fireplace. Here it is converted.

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Now I am going to take you through the range maintenance routines that will help you get better results from your home cooking appliance.

Some basic tools are required to perform the functions required. This should be completed once per year. You will need a decent pliers or vise grips, a calibrated electronic thermometer, a set of screw drivers, and a decent torpedo level. All of these tools can be acquired for under $20 (USD) at a hardware store.

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The torpedo level is used to check the level of the range. Place it on your cook top and swing it in both directions, front to back and left to right. Monitor the level to see how the level is on your range top.

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As you can see the top is off level by a little. But here is where many many make the mistake that causes the lopsided cakes, the uneven temps in the oven. You MUST and I repeat MUST check the level of your oven racks,

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And you must check them in both directions. The cook top and the oven are seperate problems. The oven is leveled with the appliance leveling feet. Then we ***** the cooktop to match the ovens level. The appliance feet are what the whole range should sit on. Many many installers are just kids hired by the appliance store. They have little to no clue about how a cooking appliance should be installed. So the roll it in on the back rollers, crank the front feet down and let it go at that. This will insure you always have substandard results from you cooking appliance. You must make the back feet take on the weight of the appliance as well as the front feet. All the feet are adjustable.

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There are four of these on most cooking appliances. Use them and take the weight off those back delivery rollers. They were not designed for the weight if you have four feet. (if you only have two front feet then the rollers were designed to bore the weight) Adjust until level front
to back and left to right are achieved. While adjusting our range take the level down under the unit with you. Rest it on the frame rail and start to crank the feet with the vise grips or pliers to move the feet up and down til you achieve level.

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Sorry it is a little blurry, as you should be able to make out this unit is now level with the bubble centered in the torpedo level. It is level from front to back and left to right.

Now I stressed earlier that you must and I meant MUST level the oven first with the level inside on the racks. In this next photo you see why. This is the level of the cooktop after the oven was leveled.

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As you can see the cooktop is now further off level. Many many installers just through a level on the top and call it good. You can not tell if your oven is level by placing a level on the cooktop. You must measure the level on the oven racks. Now that the oven is level we will fix the cooktop.

There are usually two to three screws on the cooktop at the front of the appliance. We will place shims under the cooktop (washers) until we hit level and then tighten the screws back down.

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This cooktop took 4 washers on each of the screws to bring it to level. But the end result is well worth the effort. As you will bake better nicer and more even with a level oven, and your saute pans won't have dry spots if you take the time to level the cooktop.

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So the oven is level, the cooktop is leveled and we are ready? Wrong, we must check temperature. The thermocouple in home ranges is, well, cheap. So it changes with time. If you have purchased a digital meat thermometer you have a calibrated electronic thermocouple. This will allow you to set your oven up correctly for a more superior result on
the final product.

So set you oven to 350 F and place you thermometer probe on the rack in the most common baking level you use.

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Then start to monitor your remote temperature gauge.

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As you can see in less than one year the oven has changed what 350 F is really. It would top out at 420 F for a 350 setting. This is unacceptable. So we are going to adjust the gauge.

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On the back of most home ranges temperature set knob are a couple of screws that allow you to adjust to make the oven hotter or cooler if required. We need to cool this oven down a little. So I adjust the back down about 60 degrees. Most home units have a plus 20 F and minus 25 F thermocouple installed. This means the temp will over shoot about 20 F and drop down 25 under the set point before turning heat back to the oven. Here we are after the adjustment and the oven is now performing a lot closer to real temperatures. I know why my banana breads had been
blowing up the last few times I cooked them. They were subjected to a very high heat compared to where they should have been cooked.

I hope you find this helpful, just spending a little time once per year will allow you to get much better results from you home cooking appliance.

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Til we talk again, mull some wine and hang out by your fireplace! It is time well spent!

Chef Bob Ballantyne
The Cowboy and The Rose Catering
Grand Junction, Colorado, USA
Chef de Cuisine
The Cowboy and The Rose Catering

USMC Sgt 1979-1985
  Re: Holidays are coming, tune up that home range!!! by bbally (Great Home Cooking b...)
That's very interesting. Thanks for the lesson. Both my appliances are built-ins but I really do need to check the oven temp. It seems a little slow to me.
  Re: Re: Holidays are coming, tune up that home range!! by lxxf (That's very interest...)
Thank you very much for the info. This is not something that I would tackle on my own, but now that I know that it needs to be done, I will get someone knowlegeble to do it for me. We have a wonderful handy man who does this sort of thing.
  Re: Holidays are coming, tune up that home range!!! by bbally (Great Home Cooking b...)
I hate my stove. It has a ceramic surface cooktop and an oven that can't hold a temperature. I want to replace it, and the frig and the dishwasher, just waiting for the cash hemorrhage to end - wedding last summer, a kid in college, and senior in High School.

Maybe Santa will come through this year!!! I can hope!

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