Murphy's Law

fandlilMarch 3, 2008

We decided to switch from electric to gas range because, on the rare occasion when we have a power outage in an ice storm, we want to be able to cook.

After placing the order for our Bosch gas range, we had our gas plumber install the natural gas outlet and the electrician convert the electric outlet from 220 to 110 volts. Our gas plumber offered to take our electric range and donate it to Habitat for Humanity. We figured that the new gas range was coming in just a few days and we could survive using our MC, toaster oven and drip coffee maker. Big mistake. When the gas range came, it was delivered with unacceptable damage. The dealer said it would take AT LEAST 3 weeks to get another one, and offered to return our deposit if we wished.

Our son and his family were coming in just a few days, so we had a problem on our hands. We took our deposit back and I scrambled all over the place looking for a dealer that had our choice of gas range, a Bosch, in stock. Luckily, Sears had it, for a higher price, but agreed to match the original dealer's price.

Sears delivered the gas range, and we called the gas plumber back to complete the installation. He made the gas connection and then stopped when he was about to push the range in place. It won't fit, he tells us. What do you mean, it won't fit? I say. It's a 30 inch range, the opening is for a 30 inch range, and we had a 30 inch range there before. What's wrong? It turns out that the new range is exactly 30 inches wide, and will therefore not fit into a 30 inch space; it needs a little wiggle room. The old electric range was actually 29 & 15/16 inches wide.

What to do? Since we have Corian counter tops, the only answer is to find a Corian fabricator who will come to the house and saw off a little slice of the countertop so the range will fit. Several refused to help. I finally found one who would come to the house for a $75 fee for an estimate, not a free estimate. If we accept the estimate, the fee would be deducted from the cost of the work. I agreed to the deal -- what else could I do? They charged over $200 for the job. FORTUNATELY, they were very competent. They cut a perfectly straight slice of the countertop off and contained what could have been a big mess into a small area which they cleaned up.

Then I called the gas plumber back and he completed the installation without any further difficulty. Fine. The range works well, and we slowly get used to using it. Then, my dear wife says, I SMELL GAS. I too smelled it. But the owner's manual says that the brand new range will smell a little when it's new. So let's let it settle in for a while.

A few days later, my dear wife says, I STILL SMELL GAS. So I called the gas company & they sent someone down right away. He had a gas sensing wand that he pointed in every which direction, and couldn't find a leak. Then he performed a more positive test. He shut off all gas appliances, and made a note of the reading on the gas meter. Then the two of us sat around shooting the breeze for about 5 minutes, and after that he checked the meter reading again. It had not changed. So he declared that there way no gas leak.

My dear wife was not present during that visit from the gas man. When I told her what he said, she disagreed, but what could she do? So we let a couple of weeks go by, and again, my dear wife says, I STILL SMELL GAS. At this point I had to admit that I too smelled it, even though my sense of smell is not nearly as good as hers.

So I called the gas company man again and this time my dear wife was present as he checked things out. He pointed his wand this way and that way, and detected no gas leak. Then my dear wife said to him, WOULD YOU PLEASE POINT THAT THING INSIDE THE OVEN? He did as she asked and BINGO, the wand started making all kinds of noises. He said YOU HAVE A LEAK. THE GAS VALVE NEEDS TO BE REPLACED. He closed off the gas outlet to the oven for safety, but we were able to use the cooktop. We called Sears,and within a few days they had a service technician replace the faulty valve.

FINALLY, we are able to enjoy our new range. So this story has a happy ending. But this thing was real nerve-wracking and cost us over $200 more than we expected. It also shook our confidence in the care and precision with which modern appliances are assembled. AND, the one lesson to be learned from this is to check your measurements very, very carefully, because a 30 inch range will not fit in a 30 inch opening. It needs an opening that's a fraction of an inch wider than 30 inches.

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sounds like your countertops were made to fit right up tight to the old range. always leave a little wiggle room even if you never expect to replace it, since you should at least once every couple years pull out the range and clean behind/under it.

chalk this one up to a lesson learned. we plan on switching to gas ourselves, but are waiting until we totally redo the kitchen just so some of these gotcha's don't happen!

BTW, you do realize that unless your unit has a standing pilot light you won't be able to use it when power is off! the 120v outlet runs the clock and the electronic ignition. if the unit has flame sensors and such, you cannot even light them with a match! i would look into a decent portable generator if this is the case.

    Bookmark   March 4, 2008 at 1:38PM
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But can you use the gas range when the power is off? I heard of some models of ranges that have a master electric gas shutoff valve. No electric, no gas.

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 8:13AM
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I have a jenn air cook top that will manually light when the power is out. Woudn't have it otherwise...

    Bookmark   March 5, 2008 at 10:03AM
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I cannot use the oven in our Bosch range when the power is out, because it is electronically controlled. But the owner's manual says I can use the cooktop without electricity , as long as I have matches to light the flame. I confirmed that when we had a brief outage a few weeks ago.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 9:42AM
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I use my gas range, stove top, when the power goes out. I have to light it with a match.

    Bookmark   March 6, 2008 at 1:46PM
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