Sunday, May 16, 2010

Changing the Stovetop

Ever since the house was built, it's had a Thermador electric stove top. It's showing its age. One light doesn't work any more, and the pans under the burners are in bad shape. I've replaced them at least twice, but still they get baked-on spills. And Linda believes that a gas stove is better, so we are going to switch it out for a gas model.

Consumer Reports lists the Sears Kenmore Elite 3249 as its top ranked 36-inch gas cooktop, and after looking at several places, we choose it. We were unable to find one in stock, that we could actually look at, so we went over to Sears to order one. As it happens, just the day before, someone had returned a new one, and so they had an open box of that exact model, in Stainless Steel, on display for half-off. So we took it.

As you might expect, things are not perfect, as it was missing the installation instructions. With some work, I found a PDF file of the installation instructions on-line and printed them out. I started the installation early on Saturday and finished up about 8 pm, so it took all day, and three trips to Home Depot.

The first problem was to remove the old cooktop and make the hole in the counter larger. The depth is okay, but we are replacing a 30 inch cooktop with a 36 inch cooktop, so I needed to make the hole wider.

Once that was done, I dropped the cooktop in place. This looks like it is almost done, but most of the work is still ahead.

The obvious work is attaching the gas line to the cooktop. The builder had put the gas line in, but just capped it off. I had to remove the cap and put a cut-off valve on. Then I could run the line from the cut-off valve to the cooktop itself. That was actually fairly easy. You have to be careful to seal all the connections, and then test afterwards with soapy water to look for any leaks (which will make bubbles).

The really difficult part was providing it electrical power. The electrical cooktop had a 220 volt direct connection. This same circuit runs the wall oven next door to the cooktop. It would be possible to use half the 220 to get the 110 that the gas cooktop needs, but not safe. Since the oven runs on the 220 circuit, I had to just cap it off and seal it away.

There are some 110 circuits that run around the counters to provide power for kitchen appliances, so I tapped off one of them and ran a wire down under the cabinet and put in a new outlet. That was the most difficult part -- running the extra wire down in the exterior wall behind the cooktop. But it didn't have to be pretty; it just had to be right.

So with these tasks complete, we now have a new gas stove top.

The next project in the kitchen should be new counter tops. Granite, I assume.

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