I asked my husband Clifford to write this blog post to help others who also have a problem with excess steam in an oven. The solution was so simple in the end. Cliff refers specifically to cooking roasts but actually absolutely everything which we cooked created a very moist environment and when I opened the oven I would be blasted with a gush of steam.
Earlier this year I installed a built-in Defy 600 SE oven in our kitchen at home replacing a freestanding stove. The 600 SE is an “eye”-level oven, but I installed it under-counter as installing it at eye-level would have necessitated more changes to our kitchen cupboards than I was prepared to undertake. At the time of the installation I was a little concerned about doing this as I was not 100% sure that it was correct to install an eye-level oven under-counter. In retrospect I should have spoken to Defy before doing this, but at the same time my slight misgivings were misplaced. The side views shown in the installation instructions indicated both ovens to be the same size and have the same profile, which set my mind at ease about the installation.
Once we started using the oven, however, we noticed quite quickly especially with roasts, that there was a lot of steam build-up in the oven. I relooked at the installation diagrams for the oven after this, and the air flow patterns for the both the under-counter and eye-level installations indicated air entering the oven from the bottom and then flowing out of vents on the side of the oven. It was not clear from the diagrams, however, where the air was supposed to be entering the oven. Although not indicated on the installation diagrams, I decided to make an additional vent hole under the oven on the wooden cabinet base on which it was seated in the hope that this would increase air flow and reduce the build up of steam. Unfortunately following a lot of unnecessary work, there was no improvement. By this time some slight signs of rusting were becoming evident in the oven. Finally I decided to contact Defy. I first spoke to someone in their technical department who confirmed that it would not be problematic to install a 600 SE oven under-counter, and he then referred me to the service department without giving any indication as to what the problem might be, but indicating that a service technician should check our oven. The first service technician who came out wasted both his and our time as he had absolutely no idea as to the possible cause of the problem – his words were along the lines of “I have never seen this before”. A second technician then came out and replaced the 4-sided oven door seal with a three-sided seal (creating an opening at the bottom), solving the problem in doing so. He commented that he replaces a lot of door seals because of this problem, that originally Defy built-in ovens utilised a 3-sided seal, but that this was replaced by a 4-sided seal at some point, and that because Defy discovered that the 4-sided seal resulted in poor air flow, they have no reverted to a three-sided seal. A simple solution to an unnecessary problem, but one that need not have arisen had Defy properly tested the 4-sided seal before deciding to implement it, or alternatively at least notified their customers of the problem and solution, which admittedly is perhaps easier said than done (although which could be done via their website).
Update October 2021, this specific problem was solved but overall the quality of this oven was utterly crap. In the few years since it was installed we have had to replace the element at least twice. The timer which only ever gave a quiet murmur stopped working. The hinges had to be replaced twice, the base of the oven warped horribly. The seal had to be replaced again and overall the whole thing felt cheap and nasty, not the quality of older Defy models. Currently we are looking at buying a Bosch as a replacement.