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Kitchens

For many of us, the kitchen is a place where we’re likely to spend a large portion of our time each day, whether it be cooking a meal or simply raiding the fridge. Time and again, we count on our kitchen appliances and components to function properly. But to ensure that your countertops are well maintained and your dishwasher doesn’t leak all over your floor, you may wish to take a moment to perform a cursory evaluation of your kitchen. Or simply consider the following helpful tidbits.

Kitchen Floors

The flooring material is normally tile or sheet goods. Check them for nicks, tears and openings at the seams. Carpet is not a recommended kitchen floor surface, particularly if there are children in the family. Carpeting tends to hold moisture and bacteria from food spills in the kitchen area. Wood floors are becoming more popular in kitchens; however, they are more difficult to maintain and can be very slippery when they get wet. Floor maintenance is typically regular cleaning and periodic refinishing.

Countertops and Cabinets

Countertops

  • Countertops are, for the most part, laminated plastic, commonly called Formica.
  • The cost of replacing a laminated plastic counter top is approximately $25 to $30 per linear foot.
  • The Formica or laminated plastic sometimes delaminates, especially around the sink and at the dishwasher. The particle board or plywood base often swells and deteriorates in wet areas.
  • Countertops should be secured to the base cabinets using screws from underneath.
  • Setting a hot utensil on them frequently burns the countertop.
  • Ceramic tile, while fairly easy to keep clean, has a tendency to lose grout and come loose. You should tap the tile on a countertop with a screwdriver in much the same manner you do around a bathtub or shower.

Cabinets

The doors and drawers on wall and base cabinets should be periodically checked. It is not unusual to find a door that does not work properly, a broken drawer or faulty hardware.

  • Pulls, keepers, knobs, and handles may be missing.
  • Cabinets should be hung with screws as opposed to nails. It is particularly important to check this in new construction.
  • Non-matching cabinet doors are frequently encountered.
  • In a remodeling situation, it is sometimes possible to change the doors rather than the complete cabinet.

Kitchen Appliances

Ranges and Wall Ovens – Ranges and ovens normally last 15 to 20 years, however, some units may last 30 years or more.

  • Turn on all heating elements to see that they are functioning properly.
  • Check the “clean” cycle. The instructions for checking the “clean” cycle are usually printed on the oven door or in the vicinity of the control mechanism.
  • Ensure that a gas range has a pilot light, and that it does, in fact, light the burners.
  • If conditions are suspect, and an electric range is present, you may want to turn all the range and oven elements on at the same time. The circuit breaker may undersized or defective and may trip.
  • Indicator lights often do not work.

Refrigerators – The life expectancy of refrigerators is 15-20 years.

  • Check to see that they do, in fact, cool.
  • Check the bottom of the door gasket for condition. Look for signs of moisture, rust or condensation on metal surfaces near the seal.
  • Shelves in older refrigerators may be broken or the liner may be cracked.
  • Many refrigerators have reversible door hinges, which are very easy to change.

Garbage Disposals – The life expectancy of garbage disposals is 5 to 10 years.

  • Water should be run through the disposal during operation.
  • The disposals that make a great deal of noise are very often failing or near the end of their life.
  • Some disposals have an internal switch operated with the stopper.
  • The dishwasher should discharge into the garbage disposal.
  • Check the wiring under the sink.

Dishwashers – The life expectancy is 7 to 12 years.

  • Let the dishwasher run through a light or full cycle.
  • Check the gasket around the door.
  • Run your hand under the front panel of the dishwasher after operation to check for leaks.
  • If the air gap at the top of the sink exhibits previous or current evidence of overflow, it indicates that the water is not being discharged properly.
  • Newer models have a water heating cycle allowing the occupant to limit the domestic hot water to 110° Fahrenheit.

Ventilator – The life expectancy of a ventilator is normally 20 years or longer.

  • There are two types of ventilators—re-circulating and exterior discharge.
  • Check to ensure that the exterior discharge ventilators actually vent to the outside. This is easily done by turning it on and going outside to observe an air flow (the weather flap will move).
  • Check to ensure that the ventilator has a filter(s).

Trash Compactors – The life expectancy of a trash compactor is approximately 5 to 10 years.

  • The best way to check a trash compactor is to start it through a cycle, then stop it and attempt to open the door. If the plunger is in the “down” position, you should not be able to open it, and it is probably operating properly.Trash compactors are not very popular. The reason for this is that the garbage bags are costly; they also have a tendency to produce odors and attract pests.

Barbecue Grills

  • Interior barbecue grills normally are of a brick configuration. They are often poorly designed and may smoke. Carefully observe the surrounding surfaces for smoke stains.

Counter Built-In Food Processors

  • They are less popular in younger construction.
  • These are devices that have a variety of attachments for processing food. There are two round disks located in the top of the counter; one is a switch, the other is a drive shaft. Check the drive shaft to be sure it is operating (i.e. turning).

Electrical Outlets

  • Modern code requires one 20 amp electrical outlet for every 4 linear feet of counter space. In most jurisdictions, these outlets must be GFCI protected when located within 6 feet of the sink.
  • Shorter pieces of counter, about 2 feet long, require an additional outlet. Older homes frequently have an insufficient number of outlets for modern codes, however, they are not required in homes built before the respective codes.

Intercoms

  • The master station of intercoms is often located in the kitchen.
  • When you are at the master station, turn on the master and each of the stations. As you go through the various rooms, check to make sure the stations are working.

Microwave Ovens

  • Microwave ovens that convey are checked using a glass of water and heating it for about one minute.

Instant Hot Appliances

  • Instant hot appliances provide hot water through the use of an electric element, and are normally located at the kitchen sink. They should provide water at approximately 190°F.

Sink

  • Check the traps beneath the sink to ensure that there are no leaks.

Common Defects

  • Leaks in supply or drain lines
  • Blocked or missing air gap
  • Disposal inoperative, noisy, rusted, etc.
  • Gaskets on refrigerator defective
  • Refrigerator not cooling
  • Elements on range or cooktop inoperative
  • Does not heat or light
  • Cabinet door/drawers loose, broken or damaged
  • Damaged flooring
  • Ventilator inoperative
  • Counter top loose or substrate deterioration