How to Replace a Main Control Panel (Overlay) on a Modern Stove Made in 2016

It happens. Someone in your house made a pot of beans, soup or maybe some pasta and the lid ended up steaming and melting the front or your incredibly poorly designed high-tech stove. They may even have rested a hot lid over the control panel, called the membrane or overlay . If your stove looks like the photo below there is hope.

Stove from the front after I had already taken the top off.

It is possible to replace the front control panel of the stove. It will cost around $150 for the part and about an hour of your focused attention mostly with a screw driver. Make sure that the clock still has a working light. If the clock is fried you may be totally out of luck.

Find the part online. Get the exact model number of your stove and enter it into an internet search engine  along with words like “control panel, stove front, overlay.” Mine was a Frigidaire. Do not buy a part unless you are absolutely sure you are getting the correct part.

Wake up the next day after you get your part in the mail. Make a strong cup of coffee. Make sure you have plenty of light.

Stove control panel fried

Assess your stove. Determine of there is light coming from the clock. Do not play around with the melted overlay. Unplug stove.  Pull it out from the wall. Take some pictures of both sides for when you put it together you may get some valuable historical data.

Find the screws that hold the front on which will be on the back. Start unscrewing putting all screws in a little cup..

Pour another cup of coffee.  When you get the back and metal top off, assess the damage. If the computer board from the back looks like it is melted I would figure out how to return the part you just bought and start shopping for a new stove.

From the back

Pull the old control panel cover off. Probably some more screws. At one point mine was so melted I had to carefully cut it off with a razor blade as it was melted together.

After taken off

Put the new control panel on. Connect to the computer board. Mine looked like a large flat ribbon. (I used some blue painters tape to hold the overlay in place while I plugged it in.)

Cross your fingers.

Plug in the stove. You should see the clock start up and show 12:00. Peal off the plastic protective stuff on top of your new overlay.

STEP 10:
Connect all the screws in all the places that you just took out twenty minutes ago to the top and back covers.

You just saved yourself at least $300 by not having to buy a new stove.

Disclaimer: I do not guarantee that you will be able to replace this part successfully. I was able to swap out the part and the stove has been running fine for about a year. I was actually surprised it all worked out.


Our appliances, like all technology, are  based on the generation and times that they are made. The stoves built in the 1960s were built of metal, chrome and glass. They often had mechanical clocks and timers which after 20 years would sometimes fail. The front of the stoves were often made of heat resistant glass. Over time these stoves did wear out but many are still in operation today and look great. Kenmore stoves from this era were like tanks and designed very well.

Contrast that with what $600 will get you in a stove today. The contast in workmanship and materials is almost shocking. Today they are designed poorly and of cheap materials made to wear out and fail. Appliances were made better in the 1950s and 1960s. Why today engineers and designers have not realized that having plastic control panels near heat surfaces is not a good idea, I will never know.

STEP 11:
Make a huge dinner and invite your friends over for a feast.

How to Defrost a Frigidaire Freezer in 2014

If you are looking for a job, any job, and want to work steadily for the next 20 years, become an appliance repairman. Ever since the good ‘ole US sent the manufacturing overseas and the big companies maniacally focused on quarterly profits, the quality of the appliances has diminished. Bad engineering. Cheap flimsy parts. Lousy workmanship.

Superhuman effort isn’t worth a damn unless it achieves results.

Ernest Shackleton

In 2012, we bought new appliances. The old ones had lasted 13 years. The dishwasher died. The stove and fridge were pretty beat up. Time to get new stuff. Because of the size of opening in our fridge, we got all Fridgidaire units, a package that cost around $3000 after warranties and taxes. We have had problems with every appliance but the most troublesome has been the fridge. When the fridge has problems, it is unlike the other appliances as food is going to go bad. My Fridgidaire model is the Fridgidaire Professional 21 HA20412058. They should have named it the Fridgidaire POC (Piece of Crap). How they put “Professional” in there is baffling. Even the doors do not close properly.

So here is my advice when buying any appliance in 2014, especially a Fridgidaire Professional 21 HA20412058 refrigerator.

  1. Get the best service warranty offered. We did and it was a really good idea. After a year when the first one expires, buy the extended warranty. You will need it.
  2. Buy a large camping cooler and know where the best place in your neighborhood is to buy ice. After 6 months and your “frost-free” fridge looks like Earnest Shackleton’s view out his tent on his South Pole expedition, you can be assured that in about a day you new fridge will be at 65 degrees.
  3. Buy a hairdryer. You will need this for defrosting your fridge.
  4. A ¼ socket wrench and extension. That is all you will need to open up the back of the fridge and defrost this piece of crap.
  5. Buy an appliance thermometer.

If you begin to notice your fridge is frosting up, you really have about a day, so plan accordingly. Do not do any major shopping. Look for coupons to the local pizza and Chinese food delivery restaurants. Do not plan your trip to the South Pole.

Sir Ernest Shackleton boat Endurance freezer was frosting up. He spent years stranded in the South Pole. Good thing you got a hairdryer.
Sir Ernest Shackleton boat Endurance freezer was frosting up. He spent years stranded in the South Pole. Good thing you got a hairdryer. If he had a hairdryer, he could have melted his way out.

Call your warranty service number. They will tell you they can make it out to your house next March 22nd. Is between 1 and 4 pm OK? Proceed to STEP 2.

Make sure you have about an hour and a half free and unplug the fridge.

Empty the main compartment of the freezer.

Use your ¼ socket and undo the two bolts in the back and the two holding in the ice-maker. Gently pull these out of the freezer. The electrical connection for the ice-maker is disconnected by squeezing on the outside. There is one such connection for the wall in the back too. That way you get both the back wall and the ice-maker, out of the fridge.

Get our your hair dryer and melt all the frost on the elements. This is actually sort of fun seeing this frost just melt away. Use a towel or dishcloths and dry up the floor of the freezer. Water is your enemy at this point.

The dynamite was of no use. If only I had a hairdryer, I could melt our way out of this mess and free the ship out this icy grip of doom.

Ernest Shackleton

Notice how cheap and shoddy the construction and marvel at the concept that they got a thousand bucks for this thing. Be gentle. This POC may make it another 6 months. If the mechanical temperature adjustment knob on the back wall that you took out does not click and seems broken because of the frost build up, take those two bolts out and put it back together so that it does not spin freely but clicks and works properly.

Put the whole thing back together, making sure to connect the two electrical connections. Be gentle.

You are now done. Put your food back in the freezer and plug in the refrigerator. Make sure to have that appliance thermometer handy so that you can confirm that the unit still works.

With the back off. Use hair dryer to defrost.
With the back off. Use hair dryer to defrost.
After the job and no frost
Bolt holding ice maker in
Bolt holding ice maker in. There are two of these.
So glad I got the professional model. Doors that don’t close. Frost-ups. Next time maybe I will by the Amateur model for even more senseless humor.

Be ready to repeat this task every six months. Hey we’re Americans! We’re use to living with just 20 acres, a shotgun and a mule. A crappy fridge made in China is just a small obstacle to “living the dream.”