The test kitchen has a fleet of nearly three dozen of our tested, top-rated stand mixers always at the ready for our test cooks to use while developing recipes that run the gamut from Cheesecake Bars to Lion’s Head Meatballs. To keep them shipshape is the job of Ethan Rogers, coordinator of kitchen facilities and equipment on the Kitchen Operations team at America’s Test Kitchen.
I asked Ethan to share his tips for preventive maintenance and a few simple fixes that anyone can perform at home. (No pressure: If you don’t feel comfortable making any repairs, contact your stand mixer’s manufacturer for service.)
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Problem #1: Grease Drips Out or Mixer Is Noisy
SOLUTION: Run your mixer more frequently.
This is the biggest issue with all stand mixers. If you don’t run your mixer often enough, it will stop working. Over time, grease in the motor settles away from the gears and can even drip into the bowl. (Don’t worry; it’s food safe, even if unsightly.)
The mixer may sound louder than usual because gears are grinding. Here’s the simple fix: At least every two months, run your mixer for at least 2 minutes, starting on low and then gradually moving through all the speeds up to high, to keep everything well lubricated. If you’re seriously into DIY and want to regrease the gears yourself, see Mr. Mixer on YouTube.
Stand Mixers (High-End)A stand mixer is one of the most expensive appliances in your kitchen, so it had better do it all—from whipping a single egg white to kneading thick pizza dough.
Problem #2: Food Always Sits Untouched Beyond the Whisk, Hook, or Paddle Attachments
SOLUTION: Use the dime test to adjust the attachment to the proper height. (The manual will indicate whether your model can be adjusted.)
Grab a dime; because it’s 1/16 inch thick, it’s just right for setting the distance that works best. Put the stainless-steel bowl and the paddle on the machine and turn it on. Then, toss in the dime. If the paddle doesn’t touch the dime at all, it’s too high.
Stop the machine and look for a screw near the neck of the machine; check the manual for its location. Turn the screw, no more than a quarter turn, and then turn the machine on again.
Tweak until the attachment travels as close as possible to the bowl without touching it and the paddle moves the dime slightly, about a quarter of an inch, just once per rotation around the bowl. (If the dime gets hit constantly, adjust upwards slightly.) Note: This is only for metal bowls; glass and ceramic bowls need more clearance.
Problem #3: The Tilt Head Won’t Lock or It Bounces or Wobbles
SOLUTION: Check the attachment height (see above) and secure the metal rod at the neck.
If the tilt head isn’t locking, you could have the attachment set too high. Use the dime test to check what the proper height should be.
If the tilt head is locking, but still is bouncing or wobbling, you’ll need to secure it. On some models (such as the KitchenAid Classic and Artisan), a metal rod (called a neckpin or hinge pin) at the neck holds the head in place. This can become loose and protrude. (Beware: If it falls out entirely, the head will fall off.)
Tap it back in place with a mallet until it’s flush with the sides of the machine. Then, flip the mixer over and tighten the screw underneath the mixer to keep it from loosening again.