Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Lost Chapters in the Saga of the Gas Range

In covering the saga of the gas range, I managed to leave out a few details (and have subsequently discovered a couple more verses in this long Edda as well). Actually, well before the wall had to be notched to accommodate the new range's wider-than-specified console, I had to take out an ancient through-the-wall kitchen vent (a major draft source!)

My grandmother's house had one of those vents next to its range, too, if that gives you a better idea as to the age of the fixture--and from the amount of grime on the vent fan itself, this one could have certainly been an original to the house circa 1964.

First, I had to pry off the faceplate; I then was able to unplug the fan itself and pull it from the duct. I considered routing the range hood's vent out the same hole (the hood currently vents into the kitchen--less than ideal--but direct venting the hood outside would require knocking another hole in the exterior wall), but the ductwork necessary was going to be problematic (two tight 90-degree elbows which would likely become grease and gunk traps).

So, I cut a piece of cardboard to the size of the existing duct and caulked it into place, blocking off the end of the duct from further drafts. After that, I filled the rest of the duct with fiberglass insulation, caulked around any gaps, and put a heat shield in place to cover the now-filled hole through the wall (no need to redo the drywall when it's behind a piece of metal!)

As for those new discoveries? Well, don't order a gas range online. I've read and re-read the specs as presented on the Sam's Club Web site, and nowhere does it say that the range is 31" wide at its widest point (the failing which led to my having to notch the wall); to be fair, GE's own specs don't list the 31" dimension, either, unless you dig pretty deeply. But also nowhere on the site does it say the range has a broiler drawer and not a standard waist-high broiler! In effect, there's only the lower gas burner in the oven, with none at the top, and the drawer underneath the oven holds a broiler rack. Problem is, large things (like turkeys) cannot be broiled in the drawer--only stuff like toast, steaks, and fish fillets, and broiling involves bending over to floor-level; any decent chef knows the mise en place for a good kitchen minimizes awkward movements and actions for tasks done frequently (like broiling).

I'll have to live with the limitations of a broiler drawer for now, because I'm not about to buy another new range (nor can I afford one at present). I think I could have spent $100 more and gotten a range better meeting my expectations--problem was, the Web site presented it as having a smaller oven (probably so--to account for the additional waist-high broilers). I guess when we tackle some major kitchen renovations--such as expanding the kitchen itself when we build a sunroom for the birds and extend the kitchen over it (and add a sunny little breakfast nook), we'll replace with a couple of in-wall ovens and a cooktop on an island; 'til then, we're stuck with this range.

I tried doing a lot of Web research in picking out the right model for our budget and feature requirements, but never could find the exact model numbers anywhere to make sure everything lined up (and, to be fair, GE has several dozen models nearly identical and within a few hundred of each other in price, making things even more difficult). Shame on me for not doing more research, and shame on Sam's Club for such poor description of their items on their Web site.

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