Converting electric to gas stoves takes careful planning

Publication Date: Friday Jan 14, 2000

Converting electric to gas stoves takes careful planning

Installing new pipe may involve testing sufficiency of existing line

Q I am interested in getting rid of my old electric stove and replacing it with gas. What will the conversion process involve?

A I am interpreting "stove" to mean a combination cooktop and oven, although all that I say will apply to a cooktop too.

You will have to select a stove that will fit in the area where your current stove resides. More than 90 percent of stoves are either 30 inches or 36 inches wide, so this should be no problem. However, if you should wish to buy one of the "commercial" gas stoves such as Viking or Thermador, be aware that they may be deeper (a larger front-to-back dimension) than what you have now. They can project an extra three or four inches into the kitchen, and that is not pleasing to some.

I recommend installing a new pipe from the meter for two reasons. You undoubtedly already have gas piping in your house, but it was sized for the gas load required by the planned appliances. (Very few contractors would have installed larger pipes anticipating a larger load in the future). If the size of the existing pipes is inadequate and you have all your gas appliances on at the same time, there may be insufficient volume to support them all. This could lead to an accident of an exhilarating nature.

When a gas line is installed, it has to be tested under a much higher pressure than the normal operating pressure in the gas line. If the new line is tied in to an existing one, then the entire gas line has to be tested too.

Your existing gas line could be functioning quite satisfactorily under the lower operating gas pressure, but it may not hold the higher pressure of the test. If this is the case, than the entire line has to be checked to locate the leak. Murphy's law says that the leak will occur inside a wall or someplace difficult to reach.

If your existing gas line can support the new stove, the plumber can evaluate the existing line to see if it will pass the test. If it does, then you can feel secure that the existing gas line can be used.

Gas cooking appliances no longer have gas pilots; they have electronic ignition. Consequently, you will have to have a 110-volt circuit and receptacle installed for the electronic pilot. Usually, the 220-volt circuit, which supplied power to your old stove, can be downgraded by a licensed electrician to meet this requirement.

Lastly, a gas stove produces combustion products; remember that cooking with electricity is "clean" and gas isn't. You may want to consider adding a hood if you don't already have one.

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