More kitchen remodel crap

So, I mentioned recently that I’m remodeling my kitchen. As usual, a major fiasco is apparently going to happen with my stove, which seems to always be the case.

My kitchen uses downdraft venting. This is not by choice, but because of the way that the building is laid out. There is absolutely no way to install an over-the-range vent hood, because of its layout. Not even a ductless one. Just believe me when I say this, and don’t try to come up with ways of adding a range hood – trust me, you can’t.

Downdraft venting is very limited, though. Most of the downdraft venting stuff out there is intended to be installed in an island – which my kitchen is not one of – and behind a cooktop, rather than a range. And it’s intended for installation over a crawlspace or whatever, where the vent can be moved around. Which is, again, not the case here. There is a sum total of one downdraft-compatible range on the market (okay there are technically two but they’re the same one just sold under two different brands), and this has been the case for a long time because of patents and because of a lack of consumer interest in downdraft ranges.

Downdraft-compatible cooktops can not be installed on top of an in-wall oven. My kitchen is also quite small and already limited in space; trying to put the oven offset from the cooktop would only make it worse. (Again, trust me on this.)

My existing range has been falling apart for as long as I’ve lived here. At this point it’s a cobbled-together mess of temporary fixes, and even if it were all original parts it wouldn’t be great. It was designed to be modular, which is interesting but it makes it an absolute mess magnet that is difficult to clean, and none of the modules are quite good enough to have justified the design, even if the modules were still available commercially, which they’re not. When I moved in, there was one quartz burner module and a grill module. The grill module didn’t work, and I searched long and hard for another burner module to use instead, and the best I could find was an almost-compatible coil-top module. It works well enough.

The burner knobs have been failing. Cleaning them is difficult. Replacing them even moreso.

A couple weeks ago, when I was using my oven, it got to a certain temperature and then started beeping with an -F3- error displayed on the screen. I looked this up. It’s an error code that indicates the temperature probe has gone bad. But this is usually a false alarm and it usually means the control board is failing.

I shut it off at the breaker and waited a few hours before turning it back on. It seemed fine. I started to cook dinner. It seemed to be working. I figured if it failed again, it’d start screaming at me and I’d know.

Some time later I wondered why the timer never went off. The dang thing had power-cycled itself without so much as a beep. My food was still salvageable, at least, and I moved it to my toaster oven.

I’ve been using my toaster oven a lot lately.

When control boards were available they were expensive. They are no longer available. Which doesn’t matter, because all of the reviews I see of these ovens online is that they go through control boards pretty quickly; it’s surprising and lucky that mine hadn’t failed already, it seems. (I have no idea when mine was actually manufactured, but it was sometime between 2002 and 2012.)

So. The one downdraft-capable range on the market is a direct successor to the old one. I was very careful to have my new kitchen’s design allow for the exact same installation, figuring that with something so niche it would at least remain compatible.

Turns out it didn’t.

I was calling around for price comparisons on the range; most folks were just like “oh yeah this is the price” and they had a particular delivery window and so on. But one shop I talked to said “oh yeah this is the price, and also you’ll need to have a site inspection to make sure it’ll be installable.”

“Oh, it’ll just be replacing the earlier version of the same range.”

“Then you definitely need a site inspection.”

Turns out they changed everything about it between versions; different vent placement, different blower configuration, even a different power hookup. Because for whatever reason, these stoves are hard-wired rather than using a standard 220V outlet, and the old version used a 3-wire setup and the new version uses a 4-wire setup. Which means to get the new version installed, I’ll have to at least reconfigure the vent, and possibly get new wiring into my kitchen!

So, I’ve scheduled a site inspection to see what the prognosis is (fortunately, the cost of the inspection will be refunded if I buy the appliance with installation from them, which I will probably be doing anyway since they’re the best appliance store in town and also have the best prices, go figure) and I’m expecting it to not be good.

Right now I’m trying to find out if a range hood is even required in Seattle – all sources point to “no” – and if I don’t need a range hood then I’ll probably just do the bare minimum, which is to seal up the vent, get a nicer (and much cheaper) induction range, and get an electrician to convert the (probably) 3-wire hardline into a 220V outlet, like it should have been in the first damn place. Maybe I’ll be really lucky and the existing installation is with an outlet to hardline adapter, although I doubt it, since I’m pretty sure this kitchen was built specifically for this range in the first place.


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