By Laura Dye Lang
Wondering whether it’s time to replace your wall oven? The decision shouldn’t be taken lightly -- particularly since new ovens aren’t cheap. A basic single electric oven will run about $600. There are plenty of ovens in the $1,500 to $2,000 range, but expect to pay up to $5,000 for a large double gas oven with fancy cooking features.
The variance in price reflects the assortment of options: Wall ovens (which are typically built into a wall at eye level, or in some cases, into a base cabinet) come in single and double models and in 24-, 27-, 30- and 36-inch widths. Depending on the model, it will be powered by electricity or gas and offer a variety of cooking modes.
So, how can you tell it’s time to replace your wall oven? Here are five telltale signs:
Sign 1: Your oven repairs cost more than a buying a new oven.
There’s unlikely to be a single catastrophic event that will tip the balance between oven repair and replacement. More likely, it will be small fixes adding up over time. If fixing the oven costs more than replacing it, it’s time to shop for a new one.
Fortunately, many seemingly serious problems (sparking, smoke, lack of power and uneven heat) require only minor repairs. A handy owner can complete them with replacement parts from a home center or an online resource. Check out the owner’s manual and the oven-maker’s website for common service questions and fixes. When in doubt, call a service pro (about $65 to $120 per hour, plus the cost of parts).
When working on repairing an oven, always unplug it AND turn off the power at the breaker box. Shut off the gas to a gas oven.
Sign 2: Your oven is over the hill.
An oven can last 20 years or more, but once it’s hit the 12- to 15-year mark (and if performance is so-so), start window-shopping for a new model. Check out the latest features (convection, microwave/convection, halogen and steam-assist) and styles, including new single/double models that fit two independently controlled cooking cavities into the space of a single unit.
Sign 3: The size of your household has changed.
Planning on expanding your brood? Have kids moving out of the house? It may be time to replace your oven. Unless you entertain or often cook large items such as turkeys, match the size of the oven to the size of your household to use energy and space efficiently:
- 1 to 2 people: 2 to 3 cubic feet
- 3 to 4 people: 3 to 4 cubic feet
- 4 or more people: 4 or more cubic feet
Sign 4: You’re renovating your kitchen.
If you’re remodeling your kitchen or replacing other appliances, consider a new wall oven as part of the upgrade. A change in lifestyle (upsizing or downsizing) is a great time to rethink your oven in concert with other cooking appliances for size and features Consider how and how often you use a toaster oven, a warming drawer, a microwave and the cooktop or range. Short on space? Try a combo cooker like a double oven with microwave/convection on the top. Also consider the oven design, which is integral to the look of your kitchen.
Sign 5: Your electricity bills are through the roof.
For now (as of 2010), there are no Energy Star ratings -- labels used by the Environmental Protection Agency to promote appliances that save 10 to 30 percent more energy than standard equipment -- for residential ovens, ranges or microwaves. However, due to faster cooking times, convection ovens (which use a fan to circulate hot air within the cooking cavity), are estimated to consume 20 percent less electricity than standard units.
If you already have a convection oven and/or still aren’t ready to replace your wall oven, you can still stretch your energy dollars by locating your oven away from the refrigerator, keeping oven door seals clean and replacing torn or ill-fitting oven door seals. While cooking:
- Defrost food before cooking.
- Cook at the coolest times of day and during off-peak energy hours.
- Minimize preheat times.
- Do not cover racks with foil.
- Use glass or ceramic pans and reduce the oven temperature by 25 F.
- Don't peek! Use the interior light and window to keep an eye on the food rather than opening the door.
- Stagger pans on the racks and don’t overfill the oven.
- Cook food in multi-meal batches and reheat leftovers in a toaster oven or microwave (which produce less heat than a wall oven).
- Run a self-cleaning mode infrequently and only after cooking when the oven is already hot.
Replacing Your Old Oven
So, looks like it is time to replace your wall oven? Many retailers will pick up and recycle your old appliance when they deliver a new one, so when you’re ready to buy a new oven, ask your retailer if they provide this service.
Laura Dye Lang is a writer and editor who specializes in appliances, kitchens, design and entertaining topics. She has worked for many magazines, including Home, Sunset, Country Home, House Beautiful Kitchens & Baths and Bridal Guide.
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