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Your Questions About Stove Repair Chicago

Mary asks…

what can you tell me about an antique cole hot blast stove?

I have one in my garage and am trying to restore it, possibly sell it. There is precious little resources online and I want to konw what it is worth. I know that is was made in Chicago IL and that the “hot blast” technology was patent pending when this was produced.

James Conley answers:

The Cole’s Hot Blast stove was made in the early 1900’s. One old newspaper that I was looking in, The Bryan Democrat, October 5, 1906 had an advertisement for the stove in it.

The stove was patented in 1898 so your model may be slightly earlier if it shows ‘patent pending’.

Depending on the condition and if it has been repaired or if it has all of the original parts, including the finial and stove pipe, in good working order, the stove could be priced at between $300 and $600.

James asks…

Wall Oven Wire Replacement?

I have a 1968 Whirlpool built in oven, model rle2588, and the wire going to the heating element melted. What type of wire is needed to pig tail to the wire nut? I assume I need a special wire nut as well. I measured the resistance in the element and it was about 13 ohms. Do you know what it should be? Do I also need a special female connector to connect to the element? The one on the other side looks standard without any insulation.

James Conley answers:

I’d say you got a lot of good use out of a 1968 oven; time to admit defeat and buy a new one.

When repairing any electrical appliance, you should only use parts made for that appliance and approved by the Manufacturer. This is especially true with any electrical heating type appliance, furnaces, water heaters, stoves, cooktops, ovens, and even hair dryers. Using replacement parts that have not been evaluated for use with the appliance being repaired can be dangerous; and, it can void the listing for that appliance.

Most people don’t understand how important the listing and labeling of appliances, electrical devices, electrical fittings & wiring, gas appliances, and even things you don’t often think about, from heating ducts to x-ray equipment really is. A listed product has been evaluated to meet certain Standards, written by various agencies, or by Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs). These products are then subject to random testing (by the NRTL who has listed that product) during production, to be certain that the Standard is being maintained.

Altering a listed product in any way can void the listing, as it was not evaluated to perform safely in its altered condition.

Two of the first NRTLs, also known as Independent Testing Agencies, or as Independent Third Party Testing Agencies, were Underwriters Laboratory, and ETL (first known as the Lamp Testing Bureau of the Edison Electric Illuminating Company, then, two years later renamed Electrical Testing Laboratories). As the UL name implies, insurance companies were involved in the evolution of these labs. As the use of electrical power was starting to spread, about the time of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, insurance companies began to wonder how safe electricity was. UL was founded in Chicago in 1894, and has been evaluating products (not just electrical products) for safety ever since. Edison changed the name of his company to correspond with the variety of other electrical products coming onto the market. The job of these labs was to determine ways to consistently tell if a product would be safe to use, and how the product was to be used. When used improperly, or altered from their original form, insurance companies have a right to proportion the damages they pay out. Some, or all, of the damages may be placed on the party who altered the product, or installed it in a way or for a purpose that it was not intended for.

Now, let me apologize for the sermon/history lesson; and again, let me urge you to accept the fact that 40 years is a good, long life for an oven.

Today, there are around 20 NRTLs recognized by OSHA; and they are all looking at you, whenever you violate a Standard, or alter a product. Scary, huh?

Maria asks…

Who is responsible for fixing cabinets for rental property?

My husband and I are currently renting an apartment in Northern Illinois. We have been here for over 6 years. The apartment was in fair condition when we first moved in. The kitchen and bathroom cabinets are old and outdated, but we really didn’t care about that. The last few months the cabinet doors have been hanging (we can replace the hinges, no problem) and some of the drawers are falling a part. The drawer fronts are falling off and the general structures are busting up. My worry is that we will bring home a new baby soon and I want this fixed before she is old enough to move around. I don’t want the whole cabinets replaced, just the drawers. All in the name of safety for our child. Would this be the responsibility of our landlord or do we have to hire someone to repair it? We are a single income family barely getting by and cannot afford such costs. My other question is, is he able to raise our rent to offset the cost of the repairs? (I have a feeling he may try to do this out of spite.)

James Conley answers:

It’s the landlord’s responsibility, but if he’s a butthead, then it may not be worth the effort to get him involved. In the current economy, apartments are at high occupancy, but rents for single family homes are down. They cannot raise your rent until the current lease expires, no matter what.

Do you know how old your building is? I live in suburban Chicago and I’ve seen several apartment complexes go condo when they reach a certain age. When the major appliances, countertops, cabinets, and fixtures begin to fail or look dated, it’s often cheaper for the owners to simply convert the property to condominiums than to update each unit.

But you don’t have to live in a place that is dangerous or falling apart, regardless. The drawer fronts are easy. Simply put another screw or two from the drawer box into the front while making sure you don’t poke through the face. Hinges can be a little trickier because if they’re the old fashioned kind there isn’t much adjustment, but most apartments have pretty standard ones that can easily be replaced by ones found at a home center, though you shouldn’t have to. If you have more modern European style hinges (the kind with adjustment screws and are not visible from the front), then it’s usually just a case of tightening down the proper screws that hold the doors to the hinge or the hinge to the cabinet.

But you shouldn’t have to do any of that. I don’t like to involve my landlord with anything I can do myself as I like him and our house and my family and I want to stay here for a few more years. I haven’t had to do anything major or expensive and I wouldn’t attempt any repair or maintenance I’m not qualified for. In the several years we’ve been in the house, he’s replaced part of the roof, the furnace/air conditioner, and the stove without a struggle, while I’ve fixed a leaky faucet, a washer that didn’t spin, and a door that was sticking. That’s part of the reason we want to stay here and because our former landlord was a lying, sneaky, intrusive bastard and the current one actually follows the law and keeps his word.

Dig out your lease and read it carefully because it will spell out who is responsible for what. Hopefully you did a thorough checklist prior to moving in with the landlord or rental agent that documents every little flaw in the apartment so you can’t be charged for preexisting damage. Illinois has pretty strong housing legislation and a lot of landlords are not familiar with what their responsibilities are or they choose to risk being in violation in order to prey on the uninformed. But it all starts with the lease. If he refuses to make a good faith effort to repair the cabinets you may be forced to contact the fair housing administration, the Better Business Bureau, your local village hall, or in extreme cases, a lawyer familiar with this aspect of the law. In our experience with the landlord from hell, we did all of that once we knew she wasn’t going to renew the lease, and also made a detailed list of everything she had said and her many violations of the law and common decency. She backed down immediately when she realized we weren’t going to be victims and we got our entire security deposit back without having to actually retain an attorney. A lot of these guys are like yapping dogs. They make a lot of noise while your back is turned, but as soon as you turn around to face them, they quit barking and retreat.

Good luck, sorry for the length, I really didn’t mean to write a manifesto. Hopefully, all you’ll have to do is call the rental company and they’ll send someone to fix the problems, though they are often hesitant to do anything that costs them money.

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