How to Install a Propane Line for a Stove

How to Install a Propane Line for a Stove. (Image: Ivannag82/iStock/GettyImages)

If you have an electric stove that you would like to convert to a gas one, you aren't alone. Many people are making the switch from electric to gas for the variety of benefits it offers. Professional cooks, for example, tend to prefer gas ranges because of the heat and control it gives them. In many cases, gas stoves are also more reliable than electric stoves in addition to being less expensive to operate.

Why Switch to Gas?

Gas stoves can cost up to 30 percent less than a comparable electric range. That fact alone is enough to make many homeowners consider the switch. There are other benefits to a gas range, such as more even cooking due to the open flame and the ability to char items like vegetables directly on the burner. If you live in an area where the weather isn't conducive to grilling outside very frequently, a gas range can give you that same taste without having to brave the snow.

Another reason to switch from an electric range to gas is reliability. If you live in an area where the power is prone to going out, a gas range will still allow you to cook food or boil water if needed.

DIY or Call a Professional?

Once you've made the choice to convert your stove from an electric range to a gas one, you have the option of doing that switch yourself or calling in a professional. In most cases, the choice to DIY or to have a pro come in is yours to make. However, there are some places where city laws or homeowners' associations will not allow the changes to be made by a person who isn't a licensed and bonded contractor.

It is also important to note that if you are at all uncomfortable with the process of installing a gas stove, you should immediately reach out to a professional contractor. Gas lines can be extremely dangerous if they are not handled correctly.

Installing a Propane Line

Before you begin installing the propane line for your stove, you will have to make sure that you have all of the necessary equipment. You will need tools such as an electric power drive and pipe cutter to adjust the steel piping for running your gas lines. It is also advised that you have some sort of marking chalk, soap and water and plenty of rags on hand.

Before you get started, you should contact a propane supplier to get a tank installed properly outside of your home. All propane tanks need to be installed by a professional and must meet your area's specific laws and requirements. In addition, there are some communities where homeowners' associations would bar propane stove installation or the installation of any sort of propane tank, so check and double check before you sink money into a project you won't be able to finish.

If you cannot have a propane tank installed outside your house, it is advised that you not convert anything in your home to propane. Because of the risk of explosion, it's not considered safe to keep your propane tank inside.

Preparing the Area

To prepare the area for your gas line installation, cover the floor around your stove using something like a drop cloth or cardboard. This step is critical for easy cleanup and to ensure that any shards of metal you may work loose do not make their way into the bottom of someone's foot or endanger a pet or child.

Once you've completed those main tasks, unplug your range and make certain that the gas lines that were run from your propane tank are off before you begin working. This is an essential safety consideration.

Safety Considerations for Gas

Be it for your stove or to heat your home, you must turn the gas off before you start working. Even if you are not going to be creating fire with your tools, you can still cause a static spark that will ignite the gas. It is also important to note that if you do not have the gas shut off properly, you risk carbon monoxide poisoning. This can lead to death.

To turn the gas off, find the isolation valve where the line connects to the stove. This valve should be easily accessible behind your stove. If you cannot find the isolation valve, then you will need to turn the gas off to the whole house.

To do this, go to your meter and find the shutoff valve. It should be located on the inlet supply line to the meter, typically on the left side. These valves should not be ones you can shut off by hand, so you may need to bring a wrench with you.

Safety Considerations for Electricity

If there are electric components that could throw a spark, it is important to disconnect them before you begin work with gas lines. In addition, you'll need to unplug them. Do not plug in any electrical components until you are sure that there is no gas leak.

Due to its highly flammable nature, propane gas does not need much of a spark to catch fire. Because you will be dealing with an open line, you could cause extreme damage to your home and self if proper precautions aren't taken.

Gas Leaks and Other Concerns

The most important thing to remember when dealing with gas lines and gas stove installation is the possibility of leaks. For your safety, conduct regular leak tests as you work. To do this, you can use an air compressor to force air into the line that you will be using. If the air from the compressor comes out of your tubing or junctions, you have a leak with which to deal.

Make certain that you unplug all of the electrical components of the stove. Electricity can cause sparks that can ignite the gas. After everything is disconnected, you should be able to safely pull the stove back and out of the way. Using cardboard or a thick towel can keep you from scuffing up your kitchen floor while you move the appliance.

If you do not already have them in your home, you should purchase CO2 sensors before undertaking this project. Even if you are not planning on using any CO2 sensors in your home after your installation, you should have one on hand while you are working. If you think there might be a gas leak, you should call emergency services for help. Then, contact a professional to finish the job.

Why to Call a Professional

Professionals have all the equipment, knowledge and insurance needed to get your job done quickly and safely. Many contractors will also allow you to buy the parts and will only charge you for their time. This means that it can be a fairly cost-effective option if you put your time in hours against the cost to have the stove installed.

Running a Propane Line

Measure twice, cut once is a motto in most forms of contracting. Installing a stove is no different. You will first need to measure the back of the range to find your gas connection.

Typically, these lines are on the bottom back of the stove, but this could vary depending on the manufacturer. As you are getting ready to run your line, you will make small test holes first just in case something is off from your measurements.

Use the measurement from the gas connection to the gas source as a guide if you need to drill any holes through the floor to connect your range. It is very easy to get this measurement wrong, so when you begin drilling, you should drill a 1/4-inch diameter hole. This will allow you to run a long pipe cleaner or cord from your source to your range and test the measurements. After you are certain that your pilot hole is in the correct spot, you will need to enlarge it to 1 inch in diameter.

Work From Both Ends

Next, go into the basement (or wherever the propane line is going to be) and repeat the process of drilling a quarter-inch test spot and then enlarging to 1 inch when you are certain the pilot holes are in the right spot. Working the project from both ends is the best way to ensure that you will get the two ends to line up perfectly. Then, you are ready to cut a steel pipe to carry the gas from your source to the stove.

Depth of the Line

Depending on the amount of traffic on your property, you should bury your gas lines between 12 and 18 inches. If you have more traffic, including heavy trucks, you may want to bury the line deeper. If the line will be on an untraveled area of your property, you may be able to get away with 12 inches.

The most important part of burying a gas line is having adequate dirt coverage to protect the line. That said, the coverage doesn't have to be dirt entirely, Many people use sand at the start of their hole for a sturdier hold. If your coverage won't protect the line properly, then it needs to be covered again. While you are burying the lines, do not use concrete, which could make it extremely difficult for anyone else to work on the lines and could result in an extremely large expense to remove.

It is against the law to leave propane gas lines unburied on your property. Since you are using tubes and piping, propane lines can be weak around the junctions. Any damage that occurs on your property as a result of your gas lines will be your responsibility to handle. For your safety and that of your family, you will need to bury the lines.

Tools You Might Need

Chances are that if you are installing your own stove, you have a collection of tools on hand. If not, you should be able to rent them at your local hardware store. Call around to make sure that you are getting a good deal and that you understand the equipment that you will be using.

You will need to be able to deburr a freshly cut pipe end, a ¾" diestock for cutting threads onto the pipe, a ¾" black steel pipe that will run through your basement from the stove to your propane tank, gas-pipe joint compound, steel fittings and appropriate pipe wrenches.

When you have finished your installation, before you button everything up, you should call an inspector to come out and ensure the job has been completed correctly. Your first check should be with the propane technician who assisted you in getting the tank. After that, you will need to get your gas company to come out and inspect your installation again. From there, turn your stove on and get cooking.

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