Holiday Appliance Preparation
Reduce stress and avoid disaster by checking your oven, fridge, microwave, and more
The holidays are a lot of fun but they can also be stressful, especially if you are the lucky one who’s hosting the holiday meal. Thankfully, planning can help make things run smoothly. You’ve probably already thought about your shopping lists and maybe even tested out your recipes, but have you thought about checking your appliances? Meals are often the most important (and most anticipated!) part of any holiday and if your oven isn’t working properly, you could be in for a big disaster. Here are some tips on what to check on your appliances to make sure they can handle the extra holiday load.
Our resident handyman and repair technician Steve says a working oven/range is essential over the holidays. The main event will undoubtedly be the holiday meal and no one wants a malfunctioning range to spoil that. Steve suggests you should:
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 ensure 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, if you have a self-cleaning oven it is recommended to not put the range through a clean cycle. The high heat generated during a clean cycle as well as the increased use of the element can sometimes cause premature failure of a component that is on the borderline but would have otherwise functioned fine during a normal cooking day.
Before your main cook day, put the range through a bake cycle for at least 30 minutes or more, to make sure that everything is working okay. This would also be a great time to test your actual oven temperature with a kitchen thermometer. A variation of even 25°F could mean the difference between a perfectly cooked pumpkin pie or burnt charcoal for dessert.
For a visual guide to making sure your oven is ready for the holidays, check out our video here:
Take some time and clean out your fridge, throwing out any expired or spoiled foods to make room for the extra storage space holidays often require.
Check that your fridge is at an optimal temperature; not too warm to spoil foods, but not too cold that it freezes them. A refrigerator’s optimal temperature range is 34-40°F (2-5°C).
Holidays tend to be particularly exhaustive on fridges so any signs of cracks should be dealt with before breaking and losing precious fridge space for all the festive goodies.
If required, replace a burnt out light bulb so you can see what you have in there!
You’ll want to make sure your freezer is freezing items if you intend to store a frozen turkey or ham in there. If your freezer is warm, it could be because of a defective door switch, defrost thermostat, defrost timer or defrost heater. Check each of these and replace it if necessary.
When hosting for a crowd, you often go through a lot of ice, so check that your ice machine is making ice. If there is an issue, check the water inlet valve and defrost timer as those are likely the source of the issue.
If you have an older model freezer that is looking pretty icy a few weeks before the holidays, unplug your freezer and defrost it so you can reclaim the extra space.
The last thing you want when you’re finally relaxing after loading the dishwasher is to come back to a set of still-dirty dishes! Make sure you are using enough soap and your rinse aid compartment isn’t empty.
If your dishwasher is sounding like a monster, do a quick sweep of the drain, as you may have some broken glass lodged in there. If this does not solve the problem, you may need to replace the drain and wash impeller.
To avoid having to wash the dishes by hand, run a test load to be sure your dishwasher fills with water. If it doesn't, you may need to check the float assembly and float switch.
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.
If you have prepped a dish ahead of time or a guest brings an item that needs reheating, you’ll want to make sure your microwave is working and that your turntable 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.
This is also a good 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.
If you only use white table linens during the holidays, they may be smelling a bit musty and need refreshing. Soak them in lukewarm water and color-safe bleach for 24 hours, then rinse them with vinegar and water. This may also help get out last year’s unnoticed cranberry sauce stain.
Even though there are now cold-water detergents, hot water is best for washing white linens. If it’s been a while since you’ve washed with hot water, check to make sure the water is hot. If it’s not, check the water inlet valve, it may be time to replace it.
Following these tips and making sure you’re well prepared for the duty of hosting will save you a lot of trouble, so you can spend more time in the company of your friends and family. Enjoy the Holidays!