With my vintage Chambers 61C kitchen stove sufficiently cleaned and updated with a new oven pilot light and gas shutoff safety system I was ready to connect the gas for final stove testing and adjustment. Unfortunately, my kitchen wasn’t ready to cooperate until I updated the gas supply pipe. Add that one to my list of personal examples of the cardinal rule of old house DIY: There’s always more work than you think.
Before I go any further, this would be a good moment for a disclaimer: Natural gas is dangerous. Consult with experts, follow the building codes, and don’t blow yourself up. The description of my work below is not intended as skill instruction, or as a substitute for professional installation or inspection.
Here’s how the cooking area of the kitchen looked before I moved in the Chambers. The “old” stove is a basic Kenmore from 1993 that came with the house when we bought it. I’ve had no trouble with this stove, though it has more rust and cosmetic blemishes than the nearly 60-year-old Chambers that replaces it.
The gas supply pipe exits the wall behind the refrigerator to the right of the stove. To shut off the gas supply, I pulled out the fridge and also removed the cabinet between the fridge and stove which just sits unfixed on the floor between the appliances. In the midst of all the rearranging, I neglected to take a photo of the old gas supply pipe, but trust me, it was a mess. It had three 90-degree elbows one after the other in a pigtail shape as the pipe exited the wall, then five feet of iron pipe and an outdated shutoff valve. But most distressing was that one of the elbow joints was actually loose so the entire pipe was movable and hung down diagonally to the floor.
After turning off the gas shutoff and disconnecting the old stove, I thought I smelled gas around the outlet from the wall near the loose elbow joint. I left the house and called the gas company to have someone come check the pipe. When the gas technician arrived, he found no leak (hooray!) and the proceeded to talk me through how to update the gas supply pipe. So I was off to True Value Hardware for supplies, including a new shutoff valve, pipe, fittings, and a flexible gas line to connect to the stove.
After shutting off the gas for the house at the meter, I removed the pipe in the kitchen back to the 90-degree elbow that exits the wall. Somehow in the process I forgot to take a before picture, but the unpainted white area in the photo below shows where the position of the old gas pipe.
I tightened the remaining elbow and installed the new pipe and shutoff valve with permatex pipe dope on all the threads. Then with the kitchen valve shut off, I opened up the main gas supply and used soap bubbles to test for leaks in my new assembly.
With no leaks in the supply, I moved the Chambers into position and connected the stove to the gas supply with the flex line.
This was followed with lots more bubble testing in the stove itself as I turned on the new gas line. Just as with the supply, the stove was leak-free. So then I moved on to the process of lighting pilot lights and adjusting the flame height on the stove burners. Counting the new oven pilot I installed, the stove has three pilot lights– one in the oven, one to light the three surface burners and one for the thermowell burner. Lighting the oven pilot also gave me the opportunity to check the operation of the new safety system, and the thermocouple and shutoff valve performed as they should.
My Chambers has now been hooked up and running flawlessly for a few weeks now. Well, almost flawlessly– the timer has been a little unreliable and will sometimes just stop ticking. For the time being, I’m solving that issue by keeping a spare kitchen timer next to the stove.
With the stove in place and working I have a few follow-up projects to complete the upgrade to this part of the kitchen. First, because the Chambers is seven inches wider than the stove it replaced, the cabinet that went between the stove and fridge won’t fit anymore. I plan to build a narrower cabinet/shelf with a butcherblock top fill that space. Less pressing but still desirable would be to replace the painted melamine wall backsplash with subway tile and to replace the tired-out, too-small exhaust hood.
The Chambers has been getting rave reviews from house guests and it performed like a champ for my holiday entertaining. I love using it, and I’m convinced the Chambers really cooks better than my old stove. Plus I get a smile every morning when I hear the “whoosh” of the burner lighting beneath the kettle for my morning coffee. Not every DIY project yields results you get to appreciate every day, but this one certainly has– and that makes it an especially satisfying accomplishment.
Disclosure: I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program and my DIY project as well as my posts about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.