I don't know anyone in my close circle of family and friends who doesn't own a KitchenAid mixer. From gourmet cooks to neophytes, we swear by this kitchen essential—and because of the price, we want it to last as long as possible! Luckily, there are plenty of easy preventative maintenance tips to keep your mixer running perfectly for years to come.
4 Common issues
If you and your mixer are still getting to know each other, you can keep an eye out for these four super-common issues many mixers experience at one point or another.
- The mixer stops running.
- A gear (called the "worm gear") inside the mixer breaks down.
- The mixer beaters scrape the bottom and/or sides of the bowl.
- Grease leaks from the gear box into the bowl.
Unless you’re very comfy and handy with appliance repairs (and have the right tools on hand), the first, second and fourth may require a trip to a repair expert. The third can often be fixed at home. These DIY tips will help reduce the likelihood your KitchenAid mixer will ever need professional repairs.
1. Use the heck out of your mixer for the first 30 days.
As with new cars and new electronics, often defects will show up quickly—if your mixer is being used. Try to use it at least daily in a number of ways while it’s still under full warranty so that if there are defects present, you can return it for a new unit.
2. Guard against overheating.
Your KitchenAid mixer will turn itself off if it overheats. Sometimes this auto shut-off safety feature mimics the common repair issue that the mixer stops working, but often it’s simply a matter of ensuring you prepare your recipe with your mixer's needs in mind.
- Some recipes are written for the use of a KitchenAid mixer. These recipes will often require mixing dry and liquid ingredients separately, adding dry ingredients to the liquids just a little at a time, alternating the addition of liquid and dry ingredients, specific speeds to use, and modifying recipes for your bowl size. Trying to circumvent these requirements may cause your mixer to overheat and shut itself off.
- For recipes not written specifically for a KitchenAid mixer, modify accordingly. Be sure to add dry ingredients like flour slowly, and not too much all at first. Try to stay at speed #2 or below for breads and baked good recipes. Don't add more than 4 cups of flour without alternating with liquid ingredients (and begin with adding in liquid ingredients before adding any flour.) If your dough "climbs" up the beaters, stop beating—you’re over-beating your dough (as a general rule, do not beat or knead any recipe more than 5 minutes).
3. Let your mixer "warm up" after periods of non-use to prevent lubricant leaks.
Your KitchenAid mixer uses a food-grade oil lubricant (this is a legal requirement—just in case the oil gets into your food!). But food-grade lubricant separates more easily in cool temperatures. So if you haven't used your mixer for more than a couple of days, just let it run for a couple of minutes (increase the speed for drier climates) to allow the lubricant solids and liquid to re-mix.
4. Adjust the beater height for even mixing results (and no scraping).
If you are noticing that your beater either scrapes the bottom or is missing the bottom ingredients, you may need to adjust the beater height. Here, you can do the "dime test" to adjust the beater's contact with its attachment connection.
Here’s what to do:
- First, place a dime just to the side of the bump in the middle of the mixing bowl.
- Now, attach your flat beater and turn the mixer on to medium speed (around level 5).
- If your beater does not touch the dime as it passes, your beater needs to be lowered. If it pushes the dime more than one-half inch as it passes, your beater needs to be raised.
- Now, UNPLUG your mixer.
- Remove the flat beater.
- Find the screw that is nearest the place where the beater attaches to the mixer (for tilt models, tilt the head back to see it; for commercial models, remove the bowl also and lay it down to see the screw).
- Using a screwdriver, turn the screw one-quarter inch to the right to lower the beater and one-quarter inch to the left to raise the beater (only move it one-quarter inch at a time and then test).
5. When all else fails, consult the KitchenAid manual!
Personally, I’m not a "manual reader." But sometimes, I’m surprised by how handy product manuals can be! For instance, if you decide you want to repair your KitchenAid mixer when it appears to be leaking oil, you can follow the steps in the manual to do this.