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There is really only one thing you can do for stoves in the way of preventive maintenance--KEEP THEM CLEAN!

I guess I should expound on that a little and make an article out of that sentence, somehow. On electric stoves the wires often run under the drip pans and often when drip pans get really dirty, people just throw them out and do without. Wires get crisp, the insulation breaks, and shorts occur. Bad idea.

Spills, both on top and inside the oven clean easily, if they don't bake on forever. Pumice stone is excellent for stains inside your oven-- if it is a smooth porcelain surface, not a rough continuous clean surface, (which is really NEVER clean). For all oven, or heavy top surface cleaning, other than aluminum surfaces which will be stained by this product, use a janitorial supply non-aerosol oven and grille cleaner, with gloves. It is much cheaper and less fuming than the aerosol from the supermarket. It costs about $12/gallon, which can be diluted 1:1 with water and sprayed on. This industrial type cleaner will last you 20 times longer than 1 $3-$4 can of spray.

Installing new drip pans for burner top areas occasionally will save you from hours of scrubbing, but in between not letting them get really bad is best. If your gas stove "spiders" (the pot holding grates) get VERY greasy, soak overnight in a plastic pail of water w/ a can of crystal DRANO. This is very caustic, so use great caution and never get on your skin. Your grates will be like new next day.

Oven racks can be cleaned w/ pumice stone also. If you have scratched/stained areas around burners on gas stoves without separate drip pans, or above pilots between burners, use a paste of Comet with oven and griddle cleaner, leave it on overnight and remove with water the next day (wear gloves!). Will be best possible without replacing whole top.

Knobs have to be cleaned with gentle soaking in soapy water- again this best if done regularly. Try not to remove markings/numbers. New ones also available for most models. burners which don't light off pilots or sparkers generally have lighting holes on side closest to pilot or sparker plugged up. Clean with a stiff fine wire and try not to spill food on them. The actual burner tops, often aluminum, should NOT be cleaned with oven and griddle cleaner, but can be done with a bench-mounted wire whell, or a drill-mounted round wire brush, or even steel wool or sandpaper.

On electric stoves try not to spill things onto the actual coils, especially things which will melt on--like plastic bags, paint, etc. Replace or have replaced the woven door gaskets on self- cleaning ovens if/when the wire mesh shows through--they get very hot during the clean cycle and the gaskets keep that heat away from you!

If you have very old GE stoves with pushbutton controls, keep buttons clean and regularly cycle through all positions to keep them from sticking. On rotary knobs that is generally not a problem.

Not really much else to say. To reiterate-- KEEP IT CLEAN.
Good Housekeeping to you all.  

Contributed by: Dave, the Appliance Wizard

If you have a non-functioning appliance, you can ask a question in our Appliance Repair Forum or check Dave's web-site at Appliance Help for possible solutions. If that isn't enough, you can call Dave at 888-490-1393 toll-free(8am-9pm Pacific, 11am-midnight Eastern) and, for a small fee, he will call you back with individual help for diagnosis and repair. Bookmark our sites and save the number for future use.

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