Cleaning the Oil Stove
Ever have one of those months where you swear your house had a meeting while you were away and each part of it decided to break at once? That's how my husband and I have been feeling lately. So overwhelmed were we on Friday that we just stood there in the middle of the kitchen. Do we fix the plumbing? Replace the front door? Deal with whatever wildlife made a home underneath the house? Or do we fix the oil stove?
It's April. We were hoping we could wait on the last one. I'd had the stove cleaned last summer but since winter seemed to have started in early September and spring has yet to arrive, the stove was looking pretty bad. And of course the weather report for this weekend was forecasting snow. Darn! Better do that one first.
Hiring a professional to clean an oil stove where we live starts at $90 but can go upwards depending on the extent of the job. We thought well, we'll eat this one and called our guy. He of course was too busy with other clients and said he thought our lack of heat meant that even though it may or may not need cleaning, what it really needed was repair (and then cleaning). But you know how hard it is to get someone to come out on a weekend in a rural area? Sheesh. We called the repair guy. To come out would start at $145 but could quickly become more depending on the problem.
My husband described the problem to the guy. We have tanks full of kerosene but can't get any to come into the stove. Sounded like a valve issue to the repair guy but of course could be worse. And again, thankfully, small town guys don't want to work on the weekend. After talking to the repair guy and doing some research in those old fashioned things called books, we decided my husband would give it a go.
And pretty much we needed only three things: a vacuum cleaner with an attachment to reach into tiny places, an old butter knife (though why is it husbands always reach for the good flatware?) and a flashlight. We also needed to open it up and turn the valve on the bottom right hand side clockwise and then counter clockwise to loosen it up.
To Clean the Stove
First, of course, make sure you've turned off the stove.
Second open the stove wide open so you can see all the parts involved. There is probably a cylindrical metal piece in the center. Lift it out and with whatever you've chosen to be the scraper, push in and see how thick the muck is. You'll be scraping off lots of black residue. Scrape the sides and reach down to get the corners way underneath. My husband tried to push all debris to the center of the stove.
Third, clean off the glass plate in the front. We use a non-toxic glass cleaner. First we wipe off whatever we can with a paper towel and then clean the residue with a glass cleaner. We use the Trader Joe's brand in our house.
Fourth, vacuum with a long attachment hose and get out all the flakes of debris in the stove. Then replace the cylindrical metal piece.
The bottom of the stove should have a second door or some sort of second panel underneath the main door. Open it. Here you'll find a valve that should be turned clockwise then counter clockwise. If it hasn't been turned in awhile it will really stick. It's important to get that unstuck!
Once you try out the stove, make sure you are getting a blue flame. A blue flame means a healthy stove. The lower the setting you can put your stove to the more likely you have a clean, well working stove. After two weeks of it having to be set at 4 , it was back down to 1 with the same amount of heat.
Ideally you should have or should clean your own stove once a year. We are so grateful for the advise the repairman and the cleaner gave us!
In less than an hour he scraped off the muck, vacuumed it up and voila — stove worked again and on the lowest setting too. Yay! We're still more than likely going to have the professionals look at this summer but at least it will be on our time table and better planned for than this weekend whoops!
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