Guest Post: Troubleshooting in the Kitchen
Technology impacts our lives in many ways. Perhaps the most tasty of which comes in the form of those lovely kitchen gadgets which help to whip out gourmet meals and delicious (often caffeinated) drinks. Sometimes, things break. Before you starve or spend money on a replacement, consider a few of the kitchen gadget troubleshooting tips below.
Before beginning, find any owner’s manuals or accompanying documents. Manuals typically have more in-depth, model-specific, instructions for troubleshooting. And manuals often contain warranty-information as removing back-plates or screws may void an otherwise useful warranty.
As with any gadget, the first step involves checking the power source–ensure that the appliance is plugged into an active outlet. Listen to the sounds made by the machine, one can often hear whether the problem has to do with a clogged component or burnt-out motor. Additionally, feel the temperature – is your refrigerator running a fever? Although machines generate heat, an overheated appliance can often be determined through touch.
Most common problems with espresso machines involve keeping the parts clean of water deposits and old espresso–homes with hard-water are especially prone. Scale build-up is the bain of any barista, so make sure your machine gets descaled regularly. For instance, if the machine is emitting irregular pours, check to see if the screen and water jets are clean and clear. Scale build-up is a common culprit for most pressure problems, but if descaling doesn’t work and the pump is making a loud noise, check to see if the water reservoir is in need of a refill.
Always check the levels at which your coffee is ground. Too coarse and the water may run straight through?thinning the espresso to dark water. Too fine and the water may not make it’s way through at all?leaving a slow pour of mud-like liquid. Foam problems can arise when the wand becomes clogged by dried milk or when the machine hasn’t been heated properly.
Note that new mixers may emit a funny smell. Ensure the bowl is clear and properly placed. Be aware that although it’s normal for mixer tops to get hot, the motor can overheat. If this happens, try turning off the mixer and restarting after it cools.
Any baker will insist that beater-speed is an essential element of a food mixer. If the speed is inconsistent, check speed control components or the motor. Likewise, if the motor is humming without actually moving the beaters, check to see if it’s working improperly or burnt-out entirely.
Replacing a motor may be required, but it’s much cheaper to replace a motor than it is the entire machine and KitchenAid parts for replacement are easily found online. If your mixer is vibrating excessively however, it may be a problem with the beaters themselves. The heads of the beaters and the shafts with which they attach to the mixer can become warped and in need of replacement.
If the ice-maker isn’t making ice at all: check the water line, ensure the freezer is cold enough, and test the shut-off switch. Ensure pipes and tubes are clear of frozen water or other debris. Reset the bin so that is placed properly. If water is leaking from the unit, check the overfill basin and water lines. If the ice tastes bad see if any parts are in need of a good cleaning. Although the job of an ice maker is merely freezing water, it’s amazing what sort of gunk and dirt accumulates in the process.
Although these gadgets make our culinary lives easier, their presence is missed when not working properly. Troubleshooting can solve common problems and ensure our trusty machines stay running in the ways in which we become accustomed.