A cautionary tale about self cleaning ovens

The whole purpose of this blog is to celebrate food in all its glory. It should come as no surprise, then, that I spend a lot of my time cooking. What better way to develop content….and celebrate food! I can’t say for certain that I use my oven every day, but it sure feels like I do. So it has been pretty disconcerting to have one of my favourite tools of the trade put out of commission for the last couple of weeks through no fault of my own.

Yep. That's my bread for the next few days, baked on the barbeque, because my oven is fried. It actually worked really well, though I hope I don't have to make a habit of this...........

Yep. That’s my bread for the next few days, baked on the barbeque, because my oven is fried. It actually worked really well, though I hope I don’t have to make a habit of this………..

What I didn’t know when I bought my fancypants wall oven a few years ago is that I should never, ever use the self cleaning feature. It heats up to 800F+ and pretty much fries all the critical components in the oven. I first used the self clean cycle when the oven was still under warranty, then enjoyed not one but two visits from a gruff repairman who had to replace a whole bunch of parts. Unfortunately for me, he did not explain at that time that the failure had likely been caused by the self-clean cycle.

I’ve since learned that pretty much all ovens are the same now. Expensive or no, they contain a whole bunch of sensitive electronic components that don’t respond well to being overheated during the prolonged self cleaning cycle. I decided to do a little research and both online sources and my favourite appliance parts shop (I suspect they’re a bit tired of seeing me; in the past two weeks I have purchased and replaced 3 major, expensive components in my oven to try to fix it, all to no avail) confirmed my suspicions – that self cleaning cycles are extraordinarily hard on appliances.

So, while baking bread on the barbeque, as I was forced to do tonight, appeals to my pioneer spirit, I’d really rather use my oven. When I buy a new one this week, I will NOT use the self clean cycle. I’ve been told that putting a baking  pan filled with water and a few lemon slices into a 300F oven and letting it steam for about 20 minutes will loosen a lot of stuck on stuff, making it easier to wipe the oven clean. I am definitely going to try this….as soon as I have a chance to test out my new oven.

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About Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.
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15 Responses to A cautionary tale about self cleaning ovens

  1. Anonymous says:

    Good to know, as I contemplate a new oven. Thanks for sharing your oven troubles.

  2. Ron Eade says:

    Good points, Paula. In my case, I bought an expensive Dacor on recommendation of a cook friend, only to discover if you leave the oven door slightly ajar while broiling (as I always used to do) the heat from within enters the cavity immediately above, just below the gas burners, and trips off the heat-sensitive breaker switch. What Einstein would put a heat-sensitive breaker behind the top element on a broiler oven???
    Actually, the Dacor has been one disappointment after another … Would never buy another.

  3. Joanna says:

    How to fight LG company to replace my range (still on warranty) damaged after self clean cycle…… please help!!!! I had almost fire at home and oven door blocked ( they have manufacture problem wit some device it cause the problem LG wants to fix it )

    • Paula Roy says:

      document everything and send it to them (with receipts, photos, etc.). If they don’t respond, consider contacting consumer affairs advocate in your region (maybe through newspaper)? You can maybe sell them on the “danger” aspects of the story. Good luck!

  4. BarefootArtist says:

    This is very confusing! My Frigidaire gas oven info. instructs me never to use any oven cleaner products and to only use the self-cleaning cycle. I have self-cleaned it once a year for the last 4 years. The oven is about 6 years old and the only time I had work done was last fall when I had to have the ignitor replaced. Granted it was about $150 for the repair call and the part & labor, but with the cheapest new gas oven ranges going for around $700-800.00, I felt I got off lucky. I can’t imagine that a product sold as self cleaning, would damage it. The appliance companies producing and selling these would open themselves to lawsuits. Exactly what “fancy pants” gas oven do you have?(so I’ll know NOT to buy it when this one dies)

  5. Raine says:

    I have used the self cleaning feature successfully on both my electric and gas ovens, twice a year, for 28 years. My first oven was a GE electric and I have no idea how old it was when I got it, but I replaced it with another GE. The gas in my current house is a Frigidaire and is 15 years old.

    • Paula Roy says:

      Hi Raine, from what I learned, your older electric oven likely included less delicate circuitry (computer parts) and that’s why it was able to withstand the high temperatures of the self cleaning cycle so well. I have never had a gas oven so can’t comment on your good fortune and success with that one and its self cleaning cycle. Thanks for commenting!

  6. m says:

    No offense, but why would they make an oven with the ability to self clean if it ruins the product?

    • Paula Roy says:

      I believe the polite euphemism is “planned obsolescence”. I asked the repair guy the same thing and he just shrugged, then told me we in North America need to catch up to European appliance manufacturers. It does seem more than a little strange, to include a feature that will quite likely ruin the product at some point!

  7. Remaking Me says:

    Those are some beautiful loaves, shocked they were done in a grill. How neat!

  8. Mhenry says:

    This blogpost is from 4 years ago, but I thought IImwould weigh in to affirm what you said, since some people didn’t seem to buy it. I bought a Kenmore range that was highly rated by Consumer Reports. The had the exact same experience you had — first time I used it, I got error messages and had it serviced under warranty. THe Kenmore repairman told me exactly the same thing — the electronic components in the newer ranges can’t handle the heat of the self-cleaning cycle.

    • Paula Roy says:

      Thanks for weighing in and I am relieved you were able to get a warranty repair. My replacement oven is nearly 4 years old and I have had zero issues … and I have not used (and will not use) the self-cleaning cycle.

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