Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Broken Oven & Other Tales of Woe

This past weekend was not an especially great weekend, from things that don't really affect us but we still care (the Steelers being humiliated by the Ravens) to things that affect us (our oven).

Today's post is all about our homeowner woes. Sometimes I miss apartment living, especially being able to call maintenance when something goes wrong. As a homeowner, you have to fix the problem yourself or call someone. In July we had the drippy tub faucet that turned out to be way more complicated than we ever expected. We called in Mr. Plumber. In August was the wire issue. We called Mr. Electric. And now, 2 more issues.

We've been calling Gutter Guys and spending a lot of time researching gutter options. Ours are fine, except for the one over the dining room, which needs to be replaced before the snow starts. It's a weak, crappy gutter and the weight of the snow the past 2 winters as it melted and slid off the roof crushed the gutter down in the center, and now it doesn't effectively work. So we got some quotes on dealing with that issue, different options, and it's not inexpensive. Grrrr. Plus, so far, the gutter guys have been pushy to the point of rude and bashed each other when they came out to give quotes. It's one thing to think you are better than your competition, another thing to actually bad-mouth your competition to potential customers.

So we have some more calls out. Meanwhile, we got up bright & early on Sunday to do some food preparation before the Steelers game. We wanted to watch the game in the sun room, but we don't have a DVR in the sun room so we can't pause/record the game while we do other things, so we wanted to be ready for kick-off. No 'oh we'll just record it and tune in 15 minutes late and then catch up by fast forwarding through commercials' or 'oh we'll pause it while we go start cooking something.'

First, we cooked our chicken for the Buffalo Chicken Dip. We use chicken breasts, cooked in the oven, when we make that dip. After the chicken was done, we started roasting some tomatoes for a tomato tart. Partway through, the oven started beeping. So we both zipped into the kitchen and looked at the display. Sure enough, it says something like F3 error call technician. Grrrr. This happened once before, and after cancelling and restarting, everything was fine. So we tried that. But it wouldn't work. So we shut the oven off, let it cool, and then tried again. Success for about 5 minutes before the beeping started.

Long story short: we spent the next 2 hours trying to cool/restart/re-set the oven and get the tomatoes roasted. The tomatoes eventually were roasted enough to call it quits BUT the oven no longer even pre-heats. If you press bake and then 300 or 325 or 375, it just sits there at 100, not doing anything.

Sob. An oven is necessary for baked goodies. And the meals we planned to cook this week. We ended up cooking the buffalo chicken dip in the microwave, and while it's fine to re-heat dip in the microwave, microwaving to initially make the dip really didn't result in a tasty dip with well-mixed flavors. You can't get that nice melty, crusty, brown layer of cheese on top if you heat it in the microwave. And then our chips were kind of stale. So disappointing. And the Steelers were embarrassed by the Ravens. Also disappointing.

Dead oven. Yucky dip. Stale chips. Steelers crushed by team we loathe.

Some research makes us think the oven's heat sensor is toast. SP made some calls to see what it would cost to repair the oven. But we have other issues with our oven. Periodically, when we turn on a burner, it causes a 'power interruption' and our digital screen/clock needs to be reset. We were already annoyed with this issue - and yes, we did try to have it fixed under the home warranty when we moved in but the technicians couldn't replicate the issue when they were here so we were SOL on getting it fixed unless they could replicate it when they were here.

And the front control panel gets super duper hot. Like I can't even touch it because it's too hot for my delicate finger tips. We've recently read online about this issue for our kind of oven and it makes us very nervous. Stories about control panels overheating, getting fried, and in some cases, catching fire.

Anyway, we had been thinking that late next year we would buy ourselves a nice new, shiny, stainless oven to match our dishwasher & refrigerator (those are stainless; the oven & microwave are black). But we are not yet ready to do so. Except we might be forced to do so. Research and quick trips to HHGregg, Best Buy, and Sears on Sunday plus trips to Don's and a different Sears & a different Best Buy on Monday made us realize we have few options (we have a drop in/slide in model because it's set in an island in the center of the kitchen) and all the models in the stores are $2500+. Yikes.

They all offer to order any of the slide ins we like from their extensive catalogs, and many in the catalogs are less than the in store $2500+ ones, but this is a major appliance and it had better last 10+ years, so we need to like it. I need to be able to see how it feels and where things are for me. It's much different when you are in a wheelchair and things like the knobs are less an aesthetic issue and much more a very important functional issue. It won't be good if we end up with an oven for the next 10 years that I can't open the door because it's too heavy or I can't reach the knobs to turn on the burners or the grates aren't shaped in a way to minimize tipping & spilling when I scoot pots and pans on top or, in the case of those ovens with a warming drawer, I can't easily remove stuff from both the drawer & the oven. Functionality for me is why we have the old style top freezer/bottom refrigerator instead of a side by side or the freezers on the bottom style of refrigerator.

Plumbing issue. Wire issue. Gutter issue. Oven issue. All after the flooring project.

Can I call R the maintenance guy? Do you think he'll do house calls for a former tenant?

This is going to take some serious research, serious saving, and serious budget maneuvering.

All with the pressure of time: we are ovenless until we make a decision. We need to fix the gutter before November and snow season. New oven or potentially costly repairs for all 3 oven issues? Or just repair one issue? Or two?

Did I mention our less costly but still annoying other issues? My hair dryer decided to die. It was only 11 years old - !!! I can't ever try to air dry my hair - it's too thick and just absorbs water. It takes like 10 hours for my hair to air dry. Unless I sit in the sun. Then it takes about 2 hours to completely dry.

The cherry/olive pitter broke. Thank goodness for those 20% off at Bed, Bath, Beyond coupons.

Our refrigerator water filter decided it was time to be replaced. Do you know how much those things cost?! After scouring the internet, SP found the cheapest price to be $41. My dad was just complaining that he had to replace his after 8 months and it cost $45. I swear the refrigerator water filter systems are configured to light up and say you need a new water filter every 6 months whether you really do or not.

We had to get me a new computer because I was getting 2+ blue screens of death a day.

Crap. This is so stressful.

I'd go have some madeleines to console myself, but the ones we baked Saturday night came out too brown, dense, dry, and heavy (maybe because the oven wasn't sensing heat properly?!). Maybe the oven is why our chocolate chip cookies turned out differently?

So no new cooking posts this week. Sunday night we made frozen ravioli (chicken & mozzarella) with jarred sauce. Thank goodness for that spur of the moment ravioli purchase at Costco on Saturday. Last night we went to Wendy's on our way to the oven stores. Not only is eating that kind of crap bad for you, but my junior bacon cheeseburger tuned out to not have any bacon, which I didn't discover until we were a mile down the road, and if I'm going to eat crappy, well, bacon sure is going to be a part of it. Grrrr.

At this point, things can only get better, right?

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