Thursday, October 24, 2013

Oven temperature probes are feature creepily too smart for their own good

As Thanksgiving approaches in the United States, I'm sure that I'll be seeing many more hits on this blog for malfunctioning Kitchenaid oven temperature probe stories.

If this is your first visit to the blog, you may want to see what I've previously written in September 2012. And October 2011. And November 2009. In these posts, I've documented cases in which the Kitchenaid oven temperature probe mechanisms give a false reading. This could be due to moisture near the oven probe temperature sensor connection, for example.

However, there are other causes.

The jacks will tend to corrode and create resistance between terminals after many years causing just the symptoms you are seeing. The correct way to solve the problem would be to replace the probe jack part#8186589 , or you can try and unplug the jack from the harness.

Unfortunately, to do this you have to pull the entire oven away from the wall - and this happened to be a combination microwave/stove unit.

Then you have to find the specific wires.

The two wires from the meat probe are attached to connector 5 along with those of the oven temperature probe so you cant just pull that connector, but will either need to removed pins 4 and 5 of that connector, or look for the in-line connector from the probe jack. Those should run up the side, but they may run around to the back to join with the oven temp probe harness. With the oven out a bit, you should be able to remove the control panel with screws on the side and gain access to the connector.

After receiving these and other tips from Technician Brian (whose personal website seems to have gone offline since these tips were provided in 2008), the person seeking help (TheRASGuy) was able to fix his Kitchenaid oven temperature probe problem. Another Internet success story.

But two things struck me about this whole episode. The first was a comment from TheRASGuy:

8 years of Electircal Engineering school and I am worried about operating on my appliances geez..........

Think about it; our ovens - yes, the things that we use to cook food - have evolved in such a way that someone with 8 years of electrical engineering school needed advice to fix them.

And the second thing? TheRASGuy didn't even fix the oven - he just disconnected the faulty part:

Since we do not use the probe and it is flaky at best I am going to leave it disconnected - we never probe cook anyhow.

Think about it. Kitchenaid (and, to be fair, other manufacturers) have gone to great lengths to develop this technology to allow ovens to automatically shut off when the food being cooked reaches a certain temperature. The technology, like all technology, is not 100% accurate, and is susceptible to failure due to things such as moisture and corrosion. When problems are encountered, they may be easily fixed (by using a hair dryer to remove moisture) or they may be, if I may use an electrical engineering acronym, a PITA to fix.

And guess what? Most of the people who buy these high-end ovens never use the feature.

There are numerous examples of ways in which feature creep results in us buying features that we never use. How many people use their sport utility vehicles (SUVs) for...well, for sport utility?

And it looks like these automatic oven temperature probes fall into the same category.
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