Wednesday, October 24

After One Year, We Realize AquaLift Doesn't Work

AquaLift oven after two cleanings
After I tested out our self-cleaning oven feature on our Whirlpool, I searched for the question, "Why doesn't aqualift work?" One of the first links was to a class action lawsuit, filed in 2016 (and in Florida) by a woman who had purchased her AquaLift oven back in 2014. Basically, she had the same experience as I'd had, which doesn't make me feel good, but it does show that it wasn't my fault (when my wife blames me for not getting the job done). Class action aside, this is my first self-cleaning oven that simply does not work. The photos you see here are basically before and after photos, except for some extra scrubbing that got some of the grease to come off on a sponge.

I'm not new to self-cleaning ovens. I inherited a very cheap self-cleaning oven from my mom. The oven was nothing special, but it cleaned itself when I used the setting. Later, I bought another bottom-end model, and that one cleaned itself, too. Finally, we bought a "new" house in Lenenxa, Kansas, that still had the original 1978 oven (and one of the first ever self-cleaning models). Guess, what? That one worked, too.

Why did all these other ovens work? They all used the same technology: get the debris inside the oven VERY hot (800 degrees hot), which turns it all into ash, ruins the finish on the inside of the oven, and makes the racks slide funny. But it's all clean. You set off the smoke alarm in your house one time, and then you can go another year or two before another major cleaning. It's worked since, apparently, the late 1970s.

AquaLift not lifting any stains
But AquaLift uses 16oz of water and 200 degree temperatures in order to create steam. When done, about half the water is still in the bottom of the oven. The bottom of the oven can be wiped with a sponge, but I barely got any more grease or burnt food off than I had before the cycle. The cleaning had no effect whatsoever on the sides of the oven nor the glass.

Forty years after self-cleaning ovens started making oven cleaning easier, Whirlpool has figured out a way to turn back the clock on us with this useless cleaning system. I have to wonder if it has to do with cost. Pretending that some water evaporation from 200 degree heat will magically clean the oven has to be cheaper than the heating element necessary to reach 800 degrees, right? No true self-cleaning means all these ovens top out at 500-ish degrees for broiling.

I figure I'll have to give the AquaLift several more tries, like the other people who have posted poor reviews online. I am sure it's a worthless endeavor, but I'll feel better about participating in a class action or recall if I've tried my best. I'd have to say that Whirlpool didn't try its best when it comes to this range, though. Maybe we didn't break the bank on the set, but I think it was over $2000 for the range, microwave, dishwasher, and refrigerator. With all the other features we'll never use on the oven, self-cleaning, it's silly to have an important one that doesn't work.

I'd recommend anyone who has purchased one of the Aqualift models to test the system before your warranty period is up. Getting a service tech in to check it out might help you if you want to return the item. If you just bought a Whirlpool or other model with AquaLift, I'd just return it. Really. Self-cleaning is such a basic feature that you'll like if you've never tried it. Probably like convection would be for me if I ever gave it a shot. Nothing makes you feel better than setting an oven to clean itself for a few hours and then just wipe it clean with a paper towel. Nothing makes you feel worse than a damp, warm oven that's still dirty.

We got one of those silicone pads for the bottom and called it a day.

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