DIY Remove / Install a Gas Cooktop
How I Replaced My Gas Stove Cooktop - A success DIY project from someone that's never done it before!
So after 10 years, our 5-burner GE gas cooktop was quickly deteriorating. One burner stopped working, then a second burner died (which was the biggest burner on the cooktop). Finally a third burner went out on us, to the point where the knob wouldn't even turn anymore. Oh yeah, we lost two of the burner knobs at some point in the past two years, too.
As it was falling apart on us more rapidly in the past year, I knew we'd need to get this thing replaced soon. Then one morning, as I went to light one of the two remaining working burners, one of the broken burner knobs caught on FIRE! Like, a scary flaming fire shooting out of the control knob! WHOA - Okay... now it is definitely time for a new cooktop. Here's my DIY experience in replacing this bad boy!
The Basic How-To Approach
The ideal, simple steps to replacing your gas cooktop
First, let me describe what I originally had in my kitchen just to set some context, so hopefully if you're tackling on a similar project, you can benefit a little from my experience. I had a GE 36" five (5) burner gas cooktop sitting in an island counter. Immediately behind it is a Dacor downdraft vent system. There are no other appliances built into the island, and the rest of the space around the cooktop is just laminate counter top. Of course, a gas line and electrical power were already located in the cabinet space of the kitchen island.
So here are the basic steps I took:
1. Get info on the cooktop I have now, so I can see what options I had for cooktops.
2. Verify current dimensions would work with my new cooktop, and then buy one.
3. Turn off all power and close the gas shutoff valve to the cooktop.
4. Disconnect gas line and unplug the old cooktop and pop it out.
5. Drop in and secure the new cooktop.
6. Hook up the gas line to the new cooktop and plug in the power.
7. Follow instructions to test out the new stove, check for any gas leaks and fix them.
8. DONE! Enjoy your brand new stove!
So this was the high-level, basic approach I planned to installing a new gas cooktop. (LOL)
Ahh... like any home repair project always go that smoothly, right? Read on for more details of my experience. Hopefully some of the "challenges" I ran into will help you better plan for your project.
First, I'll do a little product review on the cooktop we ended up buying. Then check out the "actual" steps I needed to do to get this puppy installed and operating.
Frigidaire 36" Sealed Gas Cooktop (FGGC3645 Product Review) - Check it out... Ain't it beautiful?
After getting over the fact that I'll need to spend a good chunk of change, I started getting pretty excited about a new stove cooktop in the kitchen. We enjoy cooking at home, and it's always exciting to get a new big toy like this. There were a decent amount of options for a 36" gas cooktop that went for under a $1,000 (our ideal budget). Here were some of the factors we liked about this particular cooktop:
1. STYLE - Check it out, that thing looks pretty sweet! And it looks just as great in person as it does in the picture. It really looks sexy in the kitchen.
2. DESIGN LAYOUT - This cooktop has 5 burners, and they're spaced out nicely so you can effectively use them all at once, depending on the size of your pots and pans. But most of the time, we're only using 1-2, maybe 3 burners. Also, I like the burner control knobs along the side. Aesthetically, I think it looks better (versus being in the middle of all the burners), and with them being all on the far right side, they don't get as dirty when you're cooking.
3. BURNERS - This was a big deal. The center burner is HUGE, boasting 17,000 BTU's. My old GE cooktop had one "large" burner, which was 11,000 BTU's. It's nice having this large burner for boling water quickly, frying / deep-frying big pots, just having that powerful burner is a big advantage. We use this center burner all the time! It also comes with a very small burner for cooking delicate foods and sauces, and the other 3 burners provide pretty strong flames too.
4. CONTINUOUS GRATES - Our old GE burner had separated "circle" grates, with space in between each of them. This cooktop has continuous grates, again adding to the nice looks, but also adds real functional benefits, allowing you to move pots and pans around easily. You're no longer balancing hot, dangerous cookware on individual, separated grates. These grates make it easy, comfortable and safe while working around your stove.
5. SEALED EVERYTHING - Because the burners are all sealed up, and the control knobs are to the right and also sealed relatively well, this cooktop is fairly easy to maintain and keep clean. Like any product, just be sure to follow the cleaning and care guide so you do not use the wrong cleaning agents on the wrong parts.
The ACTUAL Steps I Took...
along with some unexpected challenges
So as I mentioned above, I thought the project was pretty straight-forward, but I definitely ran into a few snags.
First, I definitely reviewed the old cooktop specs, and went through verifying all necessary dimensions of the counter top and the existing "cutout". You ideally want to find a cooktop that will simply drop in place with your current configuration. I did all this, and verified that my new Frigidaire cooktop would fit. I was wrong!
What I failed to do was consider the downdraft vent system in my configuration. The new cooktop itself would actually fit nicely in my current cutout, but because the downdraft was "butt-up" against my old cooktop, the top exterior of the new cooktop was bigger! I did not verify the "overall" dimensions of the cooktop, and focused primarily on the "cutout" requirements. (Ok, stop laughing and calling me a dummy, hindsight's 20/20... eh, it was a stupid mistake.) I guess the main take-away here is to thoroughly verify measurements. Draw pictures on paper and clearly map out your existing dimensions and really make sure that the cooktop you pick will fit.
I ended up not only removing the old cooktop, but also the downdraft system. I proceeded to "deepen" the cutout using a straight edge router bit about 1/2 an inch back to allow for the larger footprint of the Frigidaire. After that, I was able to put the downdraft system back in up against the newly widened cutout, and it just BARELY gave me enough room to slide the whole Frigidaire cooktop in nicely.
ALMOST ANOTHER GOTCHA
These cooktops have "gas regulator" devices that install directly underneath the cooktop, and extends approximately 4-5 inches downwards. They also vary in location depending on your cooktop. I did not consider this at all, but I got very lucky! The regulator on this Frigidaire cooktop was on the right side. The blower-unit of the downdraft system is also installed underneath, and it's a fairly big box . The regulator just BARELY fit in, leaving maybe 3/16" of space between the bottom of the regulator and the blower cabinet. Take-away on this point is to also carefully plan and consider the "height and depth" requirements underneath the cooktop, especially if you have things like a blower unit or cabinet drawer under the cooktop.
ELECTRICAL POWER SUPPLY
So remember I've already got a gas supply and an electrical power supply under the cabinet. What I didn't think to verify was the location and length of the cooktop's power cord. My power plug is on the far left side of my cabinet, and the cord cooktop cord came from the far right side. It was short enough where I couldn't plug it in to the existing location of the power box. So.... I had to relocate the power box the right side of the cabinet. Just yet another unexpected task.
Make sure you are careful with all the old existing gas pipe fittings, you can reuse all of that with your new cooktop. I didn't have this problem, but if you're old hardware doesn't fit your new cooktop, you can get adapters to get things to connect. Also, you want to get Pipe Dope for gas. I used the "paste" version of pipe dope, and you basically brush it on to every male pipe fitting. Make sure you get the one for natural gas! I also bought a small bottle of a "gas leak detector". You could use soap and water, but I just found comfort in using leak detector liquid to make sure I didn't have any gas leaks.
Well, that basically summarizes this fun DIY project. Like all of these projects, by the time you successfully complete it, it really does feel good that you did it yourself, learned a little more of something, and saved a little money on installation costs. Hope you find this helpful, if not a little entertaining, lol. Feel free to say hello in the comments box below, and good luck with your DIY projects.