All Eyes Are On You
The holidays, while a wonderful season for spending time with friends and family, are not without their stresses. If you’re traveling, well, holiday travel is its own bundle of stress. If you are lucky enough to stay home and welcome guests, hosting can be stressful. However, with a little planning and forethought, your holiday meals and gatherings can run smoothly and go off without a hitch.
You’ve probably pulled out your traditional recipes and already started testing out some new ones. You’ve got shopping lists made and cleaning to do, but have you given any thought to your appliances? Take a look at our handy checklist below, just to make sure that all of your appliances are at 100% optimal and that they are geared up and ready to handle the extra holiday load.
Put that Oven to Work
The holiday meal is undoubtedly the main event and a malfunctioning range or oven can impede your best efforts. Be sure to check the following:
- Inspect the bake and broil elements for signs of corrosion or arcing. The elements should be smooth and clear of any blemishes. If there is any food spillage on the elements from boilovers, this should be carefully examined as that is the first place that the element would rupture.
- Make sure you know how to work your oven, particularly if it has an electronic clock. You don’t want to accidentally set your oven to a control lockout for instance and not be able to cancel those settings. Locate your user guide or find one online to insure that you don’t end up in a fix.
- To make sure you can cook your side dishes and then keep them warm, test the surface elements to make sure that they function properly. Vary the controls from simmer to high to verify that they cycle accordingly.
- Even though a clean oven is important, we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: if you have a self cleaning oven, this is not the time to put it through a clean cycle. The high heat generated during a clean cycle as well as the increased use of the element can sometimes cause a premature failure of a component that is on the borderline, but would have otherwise functioned fine during a normal cooking day. Other times, the latch gets stuck and you can’t open it. Hold off on the self-clean cycle til after the holidays.
- A few days before the main event, put the oven through a bake cycle for at least 30 minutes or more, to make sure that everything is working properly. This is an ideal time to verify your actual oven temperature with a kitchen thermometer. A variation of even 25°F could mean the difference between a perfectly cooked roast beef or a dried out, unpalatable entree.
Clean Out That Fridge
- With all the fresh ingredients for cooking and dishes guests will bring, make room in the fridge by tossing expired foods and leftovers you know no one is going to eat. Give the shelves and door a good wipe down.
- Check the fridge temperature. Ideally, a range of 34-40°F (2-5°C) is optimal – not too warm to spoil foods, but not too cold that it freezes them.
- Now is the time to replace that burnt out light bulb so you can see what you have in there!
Chill Out with the Freezer
- Confirm that in fact, your freezer is freezing items. If your freezer is warm, any number of issues could be the problem: a door switch, the defrost thermostat, the defrost timer or defrost heater. If you’re unsure, get a professional out asap to have a look.
- When hosting for a crowd, expect to go through a lot of ice. Be sure your ice machine is making ice, that it is clear, and unscented. Cloudy or stinky ice are signs of a problem that should be addressed.
- If you have an older model freezer that is show excess ice build-up, unplug it and defrost overnight to you can reclaim the extra space.
Dishwasher Saves the Day
- Run a test load to be sure your dishwasher fills with water –if it’s not, it could be the float assembly and float switch. Get a professional out asap to sort that out before the big event.
- Make sure the rack wheels are correctly on the track to make it easier to load and unload the dishwasher. This is also a good time to check the silverware baskets, if they are broken or damaged, it could cause your silverware to fall to the bottom and do some damage. These baskets are inexpensive to replace.
Microwave: the Kitchen Helper
- The microwave comes in handy to reheat either a dish you prepared in advance or something a guest has brought. Make sure the microwave is working properly and that the turn table is turning. If it isn’t, it may just need to be realigned which is an easy fix, or you may need a new part for your carousel.
- While you’re at it, this is the ideal time to clean your microwave to prevent old odors or flavors from permeating your dish. An easy way to clean the microwave is to place a wet sponge in it, and heat at full power for two minutes. This will create some steam and the grime will wipe right off with the sponge.
With just a little bit of attention and effort to your kitchen work horses, you can ensure that all of your appliances are at 100% optimal function and that they won’t let you down when it comes time to prepare that holiday meal.
Uh-oh! In spite of your best efforts, appliances do malfunction at the most inopportune times! Give Appliance Doctor a ring and we’ll run out to rescue you.