ice maker hose carrying gas
Saturday, August 16 2014
The surface burners on our gas-powered kitchen range have become a bit unreliable again, so today I lifted up the surface to see if a colony of mice had moved back in and resumed nibbling on the wires. I didn't see any evidence of mice (evidently the red pepper sprinkled liberally in there is an effective mouse repellant), although I found a different problem. There are four aluminum tubes that carry gas to the burners from male connectors pointing backwards from near the front of the stove, and two of those appeared to have been damaged from the metal fatigue of my having lifted the surface as many times as I have. It's unlikely I've done that 20 times, though someone who keeps a cleaner house would have probably opened it 50 times by now. The two damaged tubes had developed kinks in them and at least one of them had crack open at the kink. This meant that every time gas was sent to the burner served by those tubes, some of that gas leaked out into the space beneath the surface, inside the stove. Obviously that is not a good thing; a spark from one of the mouse-chewed sparker wires could easily ignite gas trapped in that space. While it's unlikely there would ever be enough gas in that space to trigger a dangerous exposion or fireball, one doesn't ever want to introduce the potential for explosions or fireballs of any size into a kitchen. Luckily, the only times that could happen would be when someone was trying to use a burner; it's not a risk when the stove is not being used.
In hopes of finding some sort of replacement for those aluminum tubes, I drove to Herzog's in Uptown Kingston and browsed their plumbing aisles. There were no direct replacements available, though I found some 12 inch flexible stainless-steel-jacketed hoses designed for connecting a refrigerator's ice maker to a water line, and these had connectors at either end that perfectly matched the connectors from the damaged tubes. I bought those and managed to install them on the stove after I got home. Because they were flexible, they didn't have a problem with permanently kinking, though they could temporarily kink if a bend in them was too sharp, and I was forced to thread one of them through a three quarter inch bronze fitting to keep it from kinking (and thus choking off the gas) when I pressed the stove's surface back into place. I don't know how hot that space under the surface gets, particularly when the oven is in use. If it gets too hot, obviously the rubber in the new hoses will quickly degrade and fail. But it must not get terribly hot, since the sparker wires are covered with some sort of rubbery plastic insulation and they initially ran directly on the oven's "rooftop."
While I was in a mood to be fixing things, I also corrected a failed strut on the Subaru's back hatch (they contain a compressed gas to hold up the hatch after its been open). The struts attach to the hatch and body of the car on either end via little ball-and-socket joints that eventually corrode way enough to slip apart. Once that happens, the official way to fix them is to replace the struts. What I do works faster, but it's not a permanent fix. I wrap steel wire around both sides of the joint to hold them together. If done carefully, the joint is once again fully-functional. But eventually the wire corrodes, loosens, and the joint fails. But in the meantime it can have given two or three additional years of service. Today I redid the lower joints on both struts, this time doing the wrapping very neatly and tightly and then spraying it all with lithium grease. I did such a careful and complete job that I don't think I'll ever have to revisit either joint.
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