For a few months the lights on our thirteen-year-old wall oven would flicker each time the oven was used. I didn't know what it meant, but suspected an electrical problem. Was it the unit, the computer board, connections?
Then during a baking session one of the elements exploded in sparks in the upper oven! I looked into it and I could replace the element for around $50. The lower oven still worked, but the same flickering was occurring.
We have been in this house thirteen years. We built it new.
Disgustedly I have had to replace every single appliance in the kitchen! And we "upgraded" to the "gourmet kitchen" with "top grade" appliances. Yeah, right.
But this flickering concerned me to the point that I wondered if there might be an electrical problem causing this to happen. And, further, would replacing the element be enough to solve the problem?
So I bit the bullet and on Memorial Day we took advantage of the sales and purchased a new double oven. It is the same model we had before, just newer, and I did that because of the tight measurements in the cabinet. Other ovens were 1/2" different here or there and I did NOT want to alter the cabinet opening!
The new one was installed the other day. I have been running the oven at night to get rid of the new-oven smell and not heat up the house.
The installer calls me. "Mr. Markamavinikinicatch? (you see, my three-syllable name - mar-KAN'-ik - is very difficult for many to pronounce) I may have found the problem with your old oven."
"Really, what was it?"
"The service cable from the panel box was wired directly into the back of the oven! They never used the junction box in the cabinet!"
"You mean they didn't use the manufacturer's cable attached to the oven? Is there enough slack in the service cable to wire it properly this time?" (Suddenly I'm thinking we will need an electrician to run a new cable from the panel box to the oven because there isn't enough slack there to get up to the box)
"Yes, there's enough to reach the box."
"So, let me get this straight. The electrician wired the cable properly and left enough slack to do the job right, but the builder's installer just jammed it into the oven, am I right?"
"You got it. You do know that is a fire hazard, don't you?"
"Yes, I do. Please, box it up for me." And he installed it right. Here I have lived in this house for over 13 years not knowing that the junction box I have been looking at in the back of my cabinet was never used for the oven wiring! And that we have been living with a fire hazard! As many times on home inspections I have identified that in other people's houses, I DIDN'T KNOW I WAS LIVING WITH IT!
"Another thing. I did some research and could not find where we need to replace the circuit breaker with this new unit. Is that correct?" (Some manufacturer's want circuit breakers replaced with the installation of their appliance in order to maintain the warranty)
"Nope, the old breaker is fine with this oven. Most people don't know to check for that."
"Well, I do, so wire it right! I will check it when I get home."
I got home and checked the wiring. It was well done.
And, after running both ovens for 30 minutes I checked the box and the circuit breaker for heat.
None. The box, seen on the left with its reflection on the cabinet floor, is reflecting some heat from the cabinet interior and the hottest point is only 83F. The breaker, seen on the right, is not warm at all.
So I am satisfied.
Does the oven work okay? The first test was banana nut bread. It was left to cool on the counter. When it reached 105F, somebody, unknown to us all, swiped a slice on the left just before this thermal image was taken. I really don't know who it was... ;>) Really. Maybe it was a ghost!
My recommendation: You don't know what you don't know! I confess to having assumed the oven was wired correctly as the junction box was clearly visible in the cabinet above. I never had looked inside the box! Well, we all know what happens when we ASSume...
Quick! Check your wall ovens now!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560