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BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

White Powder in Oven... WTF?

I have a stove that has 2 ovens, one below the range and one above the range. The above-range oven is controlled by a (de-funct) electric thermostat; the pilot is lit only to avoid gas leakage and the wiring to the control unit is disconnected. It's probably a 30 or 40 year old stove and I rent, so I'm stuck with it for as long as at least one oven works.

Cleaning the top oven today (the pilot keeps it decently warm, so I use it to keep just-cooked food warm before serving) I noticed a buildup of a white, crystalline powder. There is no such powder in the bottom oven, even around the burner and pilot, and there is no buildup around the pilots for the range.

While rinsing the powder away (I disassembled the entire front glass door; I was bored, what can I say?) I noticed a VERY sick-sweet smell as the powder dissolved.

Functioning carbon monoxide detector (tested against vehicle exhaust) reads 0 ppm sitting in the top oven.

Any idea what the hell I've been exposed to?

Expand your moderator at work


tim_k
Buttons, Bows, Beamer, Shadow, Kasey
Premium,VIP
join:2002-02-02
Stewartstown, PA
kudos:40

1 recommendation

reply to BronsCon

Re: White Powder in Oven... WTF?

My wife just put our oven through self cleaning. When it was done it had that white powder on the bottom.



Pacrat
Old and Cranky
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-10
Cortland, OH
kudos:2
reply to BronsCon

That would be my guess... ash left after a self-clean cycle.
--
I was born at night... but not last night!



BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

That would totally be my guess, as well, if I hadn't read the following:

said by BronsCon:

The above-range oven is controlled by a (de-funct) electric thermostat; the pilot is lit only to avoid gas leakage and the wiring to the control unit is disconnected.
Besides, I can't recall ever having seen a gas oven that old that had a self-clean cycle.

I do appreciate when people go out of their way to help me out, or at least try to make me laugh (see Jazzy's comment, above). It just bugs me when people dive into a diagnosis with incomplete information, when all the facts have been provided.


davidg
Good Bye My Friend
Premium,MVM
join:2002-06-15
none
reply to BronsCon

since you say you put stuff in there to keep it warm, is it possible it is decomposed foodstuffs?
--
Lack of Preparation on YOUR Part does NOT Constitute an Emergency on Mine!



BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

The way it coated the entire oven, I'm inclined to think it's some product of combustion. Nothing stays in there for very long; it goes in, covered, when it's done being cooked and comes out when everything else is ready. Even were it left in for more than a few minutes, everything that goes in there is covered, so no chance for foodstuffs to get in there and certainly not enough time for it to decompose.

The only other thing I can think of, if it's not a product of combustion that shouldn't be being produced, is... from time to time, I do use the warmth of that oven to heat buns while I'm cooking burgers, so there was a decent pile of breadcrumbs in the bottom of that oven. I've never seen white mold on bread (and I'd see it, as I usually have wheat bread around), but that's the only other thing I can think of. That, however, wouldn't explain the sweet, acid smell.

Oh, I forgot to mention that when I poured water on the inner door glass (remember, I disassembled the whole thing), it foamed for a second. That's when I smelled the sweet smell.

I washed my hands really well after this, not knowing WTF I just got on them.



Pacrat
Old and Cranky
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-10
Cortland, OH
kudos:2
reply to BronsCon

Oven cleaner residue?? Have you tried wiping the oven out really well and seeing if the condition returns?.
--
I was born at night... but not last night!



BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

It's an oven that DOES NOT WORK AND DOES NOT GET USED. I've lived here for 2 years, cleaned it (soap and water) when I moved in, and wipe it out (dry cloth) every few months. This residue has been building up since the last time I cleaned it.

Can I ask all of you why you think I would use a self-clean cycle or oven cleaner in a defunct oven?



Kramer
Premium,Mod
join:2000-08-03
Richmond, VA
kudos:2
reply to BronsCon

My guess: Impurities in your delivered gas that are burnt by the pilot and eventually coat your oven with a fine residue. If you used the oven, the stuff would probably not be as apparent. There would be lots of moisture to dissolve it.



UglyDork
Premium
join:2002-01-09
Buffalo, NY
reply to BronsCon

said by BronsCon:

Can I ask all of you why you think I would use a self-clean cycle or oven cleaner in a defunct oven?
Can I ask why you would use a defective oven to just warm food?

Sounds just as ludicrous to me. These people are just trying to help you. You need to practice some patients my friend.


BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

I use it to keep just-cooked food warm while I finish cooking the rest of my meal, not to warm food.

The top oven is part of a stove, that is in may apartment, that I am stuck with. I have to keep the pilot light lit so gas won't fill the apartment; I'm using the gas, so I may as well make use of the gas.

tim_k's comment was just a comment, with the intent to inform. I appreciate that comment, for sure. Another poster left a humorous comment, to which I replied, both of which posts were removed by a moderator, apparently because there was a drug reference in the humor. I appreciated the joke because it helped me unwind from the scrubbing and scouring I had just been doing.

What I don't appreciate are people telling me to be patient while not being patient themselves and taking the time to read what I have written before chiming in.

Thanks for the help, though.



BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
reply to Kramer

Thank you! I thought that might be the case.

Now, what's left to figure out is what those impurities are and if they're harmful to handle (should I have been wearing gloves while wiping them up?).

Any ideas?

I only cleaned the door of the oven yesterday (it's amazing how many parts there are in an oven door), I still have to clean the racking and the inside of the oven itself. I think I'm going to buy some rubber gloves before I tackle that.



Pacrat
Old and Cranky
Premium,MVM
join:2001-03-10
Cortland, OH
kudos:2
Reviews:
·Time Warner Cable

You're the one who posted the question... so I figured my "guess" was as good as yours! Excuse me for not understanding that you continue to use an oven that, obviously, should be disconnected from the gas source. Considering the consequences of the pilot ever going out. Ever consider having the landlord fix the appliance?
--
I was born at night... but not last night!



BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

2 edits

I've tried; given that the maintenance man is my stepfather and the property manager is my grandfater, and that they both live in the same building as me, I'm trusting him when he tells me it is irreparable (I did my own research to find that the rheostat it uses is no longer manufactured; from a liability standpoint, they can't replace it with a different part, even if the part is equivalent) and safe. The range works and the lower oven works. It is still a very usable appliance, so why toss it?

The consequences of the top oven's pilot light going out are no more grave than the consequences of any other pilot light going out. Even a perfectly functioning oven can spew gas if the pilot goes out, as an unlit pilot light is likely to leak over time. That's not my concern; my concern is finding out what the white powder is that is being produced by this thing and if I can do anything about it other than cleaning it up as I go.

However, if I am able to determine that it is spewing toxic $#!! all over the place, I can get them to replace.



davidg
Good Bye My Friend
Premium,MVM
join:2002-06-15
none

why not disassemble it and permanently seal the pilot's supply line? it probably uses a 1/4" connection and a plug/cap should be available at Lowes/HD/plumbing supply house.
--
Lack of Preparation on YOUR Part does NOT Constitute an Emergency on Mine!



BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

As stated, the maintenance man is my stepfather, and I trust him to tell me when something can or can't be fixed. I never said I trusted him (or myself) to fix it!

That said, I never really considered it, as I liked the convenience of the top oven being usable to food at serving temp. I'll ask him about it on my next day off (I have to make sure he doesn't screw it up, lol).

Thanks for the suggestion!



Savant
Premium
join:2001-08-12
Toronto
reply to BronsCon

Is this a 'chalky' white powder? If so that might indicate a problem with poor venting and a buildup of carbon monoxide. (At least that is how I remember it from the safety material I had to read for an employment standards management course.) Check out the results from this Google search to see if you think this is what it is. On the Ontario Fire Marshall website they list "Chalky white powder" as one of the warning signs.

While the carbon monoxide may not be leaking into the house with the oven door closed, it may not be venting properly either.
--

Could be better, could be worse, could be Monday...



jack73

@optonline.net
reply to BronsCon

if the oven is that old maybe it's asbestos powder from the insulation in the oven.



BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
reply to Savant

It's more crystalline than chalky, but a valid concern. I'll check my CO detector again, as I had it sitting IN the oven and it wasn't going off, but I'm beginning to have my doubts about its accuracy lately.



BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET
reply to jack73

Having seen this oven disassembled, I know that it has no insulation, it uses air gap for insulation, which is amazingly effective (bottom oven on broil, top of range only slightly warm).

Besides, asbestos powder would pile on horizontal surfaces and be prone to becoming airborne when I open the oven door, it wouldn't build up on the door glass.

I'd probably have cancer by now, if that's what it was. Asbestos is some scary $#!! when it's not just sitting there doing nothing, so that was a concern I had at one point.



tim_k
Buttons, Bows, Beamer, Shadow, Kasey
Premium,VIP
join:2002-02-02
Stewartstown, PA
kudos:40
reply to BronsCon

For God's sake, have them replace the damn thing before the whole building goes up in flame.



dark_star

join:2003-11-14
Louisville
kudos:1
reply to BronsCon

BronsCon wrote:
> Functioning carbon monoxide detector (tested against vehicle
> exhaust) reads 0 ppm sitting in the top oven.

Don't know about your oven.

I do know you need a new CO alarm. "Testing" the CO alarm with car exhaust ruins the sensor.

From:

»electrical.hardwarestore.com/lea···aqs.aspx

17) Can the Carbon Monoxide Alarm be tested any other way besides pressing the test button?
The test/silence button is the only proper way to test the CO Alarm. NEVER use vehicle exhaust! Exhaust causes permanent damage and voids your warranty.



BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA
Reviews:
·SONIC.NET

Figured it was shot, planning to buy a new one today (I work at THD, so I'll already be there). All windows are open until then, fans blowing inward in all except the kitchen, where they blow outward.

Thing was 6 years old anyway and, in my research last night, I found that this model only lasts 2 years anyway and was already shot; it was a fluke that it went off at all! The one I'm looking at buying claims a 6 year lifespan and has a 5 year warranty.

So... Pressing the test button only tests the alarm. What is the proper way to test the sensor? I couldn't find that info anywhere!!



dark_star

join:2003-11-14
Louisville
kudos:1

The test button is all you really need. You should have at least two CO detectors in your home anyway, and if you choose two different brands the odds of getting two duds are astronomical.

That said, there is canned, DILUTED carbon monoxide for testing. Remember, if you test with any strong CO source (vehicle exhaust, burning charcoal, possibly even direct cigarette smoke), you will ruin the sensor.

Here's a couple of links to canned CO, I have no idea who may actually sell it.

»www.sdifire.com/cms/document/Sol···2211.pdf

»www.systemsensor.com/pdf/CO1224T···ease.pdf



BronsCon

join:2003-10-24
Walnut Creek, CA

I appreciate the info, I've been looking for a 'proper' way to test a CO sensor, as I know the test button only checks the alarm function.



stev32k
Premium
join:2000-04-27
Mobile, AL
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Mediacom
·DIRECTV
·AT&T Southeast
reply to BronsCon

The white powder could be a sulfur compound. Your description of a sweet/acid smell sounds like sulfur. You might call your gas company and ask if they have any sulfur in the gas or if they ever get sour gas.

If you have the chance watch your pilot light for some period of time and see if you can see bright specks in the flame every now and then. If so that indicates condensate in the gas stream and gas condensate is very prone to contain sulfur and can leave white deposits.



stev32k
Premium
join:2000-04-27
Mobile, AL
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Mediacom
·DIRECTV
·AT&T Southeast
reply to BronsCon

I don't know where my mind was, but all natural gas has sulfur. Gas companies add sulfur containing compounds called mercaptins to give the gas it's distinctive odor. Natural gas has no odor of its own and mercaptins can be detected at very low concentrations so small amounts are added to help detect leaks.