My grandmother cooked on her wood-burning cast-iron kitchen stove for many years. Until she finally “went modern.” I don’t remember my grandfather ever having to fix it, and to my knowledge there was no such thing as a cast-iron stove repair technician. I’m also dead certain that the hot monster did not have a mother board or any other electronics.
In the last few years in different places where we have lived, we have replaced a range top, two ovens, and now a slide-in stove. The problem always seems to be the same: the readout suddenly flashes an error message like, “F15”, and the meaning is always the same. Instead of error messages, the control panel should just flash, “Replace mother board” because the remedy is also always the same: back order a new board that should arrive in one or two weeks, and it will cost $900 or some multiple of that figure. (How much does a new stove cost?) Over the years I have come to realize that the probably heat-sensitive main board is almost always located near where the stove or oven is at its hottest. Just sayin’.
My current adventure with a stove started over two months ago. The dreaded error message started to flash, a high-pitched warning buzzer went off, and the stove shut down. There was nothing to do but turn off the breaker switch. Reading the troubleshooting instructions in the service manual was little help, as was a search of the appliance web site. The two sources advised the same thing, call a repair technician. So that’s what I did. Over two months ago.
The first guy arrived with his heavy tool kit and a swagger that sent me the message that it was probably all my fault. We turned the breaker switch back on, the alarm started buzzing, and the error message flashed. Diagnostics were over in no more than 15 seconds. No further examination needed. A new main board would fix the problem.
Weeks later, the guy reappeared with a new board in a box. I knew that there was trouble ahead when it became clear that the technician didn’t know how to access the electronic guts of the stove. He started unscrewing things and bending sheet metal panels until he finally realized that all he had to do was slide the stove out of the cabinet and access the back of the unit. He replaced the board, we turned the breaker back on, and the alarm started sounding in sync with the error message. A frantic call to his boss, and the technician announced that he had done all that he could do. He would be back with a different, better main board.
Two weeks later, the guy appeared again. By this time we were on a first name basis. Adam (not his real name) told me that the new model main board should fix things. Fortunately, this time he knew how to access the electronics of the stove, replacing the board in just a few minutes. I excitedly turned the breaker back on. You have already guessed the outcome: buzzer, flashing message. Adam confessed that he didn’t know what to do at this point, hastily gathered his tools, and left.
The landlord decided to get a second opinion, and in another two weeks, Fred showed up. We went through the diagnostics – breaker, alarm, message – and Fred said that the stove needed a new main box – maybe the previous one had shorted out during installation – along with a new touch panel. He also had some unflattering comments about Adam and the company for which he worked. Then Fred disappeared out the front door with the comment that he would be in touch.
By this time, the landlord and I were in total agreement. What was needed was a new stove. She went to the local appliance store and picked out a beautiful new replacement stove. She and I measured carefully, and we decided the new stove would work. The next week, the stove was due to be delivered on Saturday morning between 7 and 11 AM. I waited dutifully. At noon there was no stove, so I called the delivery service who had notified me on Friday evening to anticipate the delivery. Saturday noon they told me that the delivery had been canceled. They apologized – sort of – for not letting me know and hung up.
Then I learned that the stove would be delivered on Tuesday. Just as before, I got a call Monday evening to say that the stove would arrive between 8 and 11 in the morning. Sure enough, on Tuesday morning, the delivery service called to announce that they were in front with two stoves. After some negotiation with the driver, we came to agreement that I didn’t need two stoves, and I signed the official paperwork that I had refused one of the two stoves. The remaining stove was brought into the kitchen and slid into the space. It DIDN”T FIT! Not because of measurement problems but because the electrical outlet was on the side of the cutout instead of the back so that the stove could not be slid past. This was a recent design revision in all slide-in stoves the delivery man advised me.
It’s not over. Now we are waiting for the electrician to move the plug to the back wall so that the stove can slide in. I shall keep you posted as to progress. In the meantime we will continue with our new slow cooker. I have already made reservations for Thanksgiving dinner at a local hotel.