Sunday, August 8, 2010

Converting Your Kenmore Range to Propane

WARNING! UPDATE! The information on this was accurate to the best of my knowledge in 2010, in 2014 significant changes have happened with Kenmore appliances including their ranges. They're no longer made by only Whirlpool, but are also made by Frigidaire, LG, General Electric and other manufacturers. This article is for information purposes only. Consult the Sears page concerning these ranges or call a qualified technician. Appliances in general have undergone significant changes due to regulations, imports and materials cost. Most problems with an appliance require a trained technician to work on them. This info is outdated!






As a service technician (and handyman), I see a few things that are out of the ordinary. Along with fixing heating and cooling equipment, I've worked on dryers, washers and the occasional gas range. Tomorrow, I get to gas pipe a generator, so that one will be fun and if worthy of being written about I'll get to it. This isn't a step-by-step tutorial on how to convert a gas range to burn propane, but to illustrate something that even a few home service professionals aren't aware of. If you choose to use this info, remember that propane, or LP gas is extremely dangerous. It's heavier than air and will explode when concentrated enough and an ignition source is present. Injury, death and/or property damage could result. When in doubt, call a professional or technical support. As an added bonus Sears will not warrant installation damage because they have no control over your work. I don't either. Use this info at your own risk. Call backs are a pain in the rumpus especially when they interrupt one's anniversary night. Friday was the night and a range that I installed and converted for a long time client of mine brought to light the importance of clear and complete instructions. The week prior, I had installed a Kenmore range and converted it to use propane. It involved changing orifices on the cook top and turning the pin on the regulator around. Because propane is heavier than natural gas, the orifices are smaller and the spring pressure on the regulator is different. Leaving natural gas settings in place and using propane will cause the appliance to over fire. This can be unsettling at best and dangerous at worst. Of course using natural gas on a propane set appliance will cause it to under fire , which is annoying. When my client called because her oven had flames a foot over the burner, it was unsettling, and perplexing. After all, I flipped the pin on the regulator, swapped out the orifices for the cook top, etc. I did everything the instructions said to do. This should have been the end of it and my client could be cooking her garlic paste in her brand-new oven. I want to say that my family has used Kenmore products for nearly 40 years and we will continue to do so. I will say that they need to more complete and clear on their instructions with something as potentially dangerous as a gas range. The instructions for setting the burners on the oven AND broiler were supposed to be in a leaflet in the use and care guide. Because this range was a display model, this leaflet was probably gone with the wind. The result was there was no instructions for converting the oven, only the cook top and regulator. Neither I nor the homeowners checked the oven the first time (my bad). This doesn't excuse Sears from their directions, which seem to be in a foreign language with parts missing, but it does bear mention to check everything. Well, here is the "trick" to converting the oven AND broiler, without emailing Sears or trying to call Frigidaire. Remove the door to the oven (read the instructions) and the floor to the oven(there are two screws). Pull out the drawer and set this stuff away from the work area. You'll need a 1/2 inch wrench and a pair of gripping pliers for this. There is a spud (nozzle) that feeds gas to the burner and this is adjustable. It lives under the oven. Tighten this down all the way, at least 2 1/2 to 3 turns with a 1/2 open end or flare nut wrench (do not use a crescent wrench or you'll round off the brass spud). The same story goes for the spud feeding the broiler, but use the gripping pliers (or groove joint pliers) to hold the stationary part of the nozzle steady while you tighten the spud. As per the directions, the oven burner flames need to be about 1 inch high and the broiler flames shouldn't exceed the burner shield. Put the floor, drawer and door back on in that order and turn the oven on for a half hour to burn off the cosmoline. As long as you do everything right, you can roast garlic to your heart's content. Don't forget to invite me for some yummy garlic bread. Maranatha!

18 comments:

Walter Grace said...

A reader emailed me another issue with her Kenmore range. This one has a gas oven and electric cooktop. She had this hooked to a 20 pound propane cylinder and said the regulator for the oven kept popping.
My answer was that all propane or natural gas appliances have a regulator. In the case of natural gas, there is a regulator at the meter. The big propane tanks, or "pigs" have a regulator installed somewhere as well, usually on the side of the house.

However, 20 pound tanks don't have a regulator, but most of the appliances we tend to use with them will. Your gas grill, turkey fryer, or camping trailer will have one that's robust enough to take the pressure from one of these tanks.

The gas ranges of this world have a regulator built with the assumption they will use regulated natural or propane gas from the line or pig. These have anywhere from 6 to 14 inches of water column in pressure, but the 20 pound tanks could have double that. These will overload a regulator on your range in short order, even if otherwise converted to propane. An external regulator solved the problem (she found this out on her own).

Martin said...

Hey Walter, I just read your post and was wondering if you have any input in my situation? My girlfriend just bought a display/returned model from Sears (Kenmore Elite 30" slide in gas (oven and cooktop)). As in your case, there was no LP conversion instructions. However, I think the opposite may be the case here. I have a feeling that it has been converted to work with LP, as the burners are quite low and they take a bit of lighting (more than the 4 secs they recommend. The oven works fine! So I guess my question to you is, how can I tell if it's converted to LP, and how would I reverse such?

Thanks in advance.
-Martin

Walter Grace said...

You'll want to check the orifices for each of the burners. These are the brass plugs with a hole in them to let the gas through. The ones for LP (propane) are considerably smaller than the ones for natural gas. This is because LP is denser than natural gas is. You're also going to need to check the regulator to make sure this is set for natural gas. If it were me, I'd get a natural gas kit for this range. Someone probably converted this range over to LP and was frustrated with the oven. They probably returned it as a result. That should fix your problem. Hope this helps.

Jason and Michele Maynard said...

Hi Walter - Thanks for your explanation. We brought Kenmore gas appliances (dryer and stove) with us during our move to Ecuador. I followed the instructions in the leaflet, and the burners seem to be just right. However, I turned on the oven this morning and had foot-long flames again. I tightened the spud for the oven and for the broiler, and I'm still getting big flames from the oven burner. Wondering if maybe I didn't tighten that one enough? Is it possible to over-tighten the spud, or should I just tighten it till it stops? I would call a repair person, but I am probably just as well to do it myself since most haven't seen this type of stove.

Thanks for the advice.

Walter Grace said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Walter Grace said...

My pleasure Jason and Michelle. Propane or LP gas needs a smaller orifice or gate than natural gas does to keep it from overfiring. I'm assuming you have propane and if this the case, go ahead and tighten that spud all the way. As long as you use the proper wrench and don't wreath on it, there's no danger of overtightening it. Hope this helps.

John Klemm said...

Thanks! ... I live in an area where there is no natural gas and brought my Kenmore range with me... It was a piece of cake to adjust them to propane with your instructions!

Carl said...

Thanks for the information on how to adjust the oven burners. I wanted to save the install cost on my new Kenmore range. I followed all of the instruction for changing the cooktop burners and the regulator. I did not get how to adjust the oven burners. We had very large flames coming up in the oven. I knew that want right.
I did an online search and found your post. Ten minutes and a 1/2 inch wrench later I was back in business.

Bill said...

converting a 1940's NG to LP. I have added a regulator for LP. However I can not change nozzles without major renovation. Can I get away with the larger nozzles? There are mixture adjustments can that help? Also can I install the regulator vertically or is it best horizontal?

Walter Grace said...

Bill, you absolutely have to change the nozzles or your device will still over fire. The mixture adjustments will only work if the nozzles (orifices) are of the correct size. As far as installing the regulator, I've seen them installed both ways. Just make sure it can be serviced without taking everything apart. Going back to those orifices, if it's going to be a huge job to replace them and get this working safely, better hire a pro to do this. Propane is heavier than air, which means it won't dissipate as easily as natural gas will. Always use the right parts when dealing with gas or electricity, as your safety is a helluva lot more important than saving a few bucks.

Lee Anne Crafton said...

I have tightened the nozzles all the way down and
Tried all sorts of confirgerations on the orafice airlow. I still have propane smell and no blue flame although the
Tightening reduced the size of flame. Ant recommendations? Can't afford a service person. Broke single mom.

Walter Grace said...

Lee Ann, did you use a back up wrench to hold the stationary part of the spud? If you didn't you likely broke the line and caused a leak. There shouldn't be any air adjustment needed at all. You need to make sure the burners are correctly installed over the spud. Before I did any damage to your range, I would call a service tech over and have them look it. Are they expensive? Compared to a fire, not so much.

Brenda Olsen said...

Walter
I found your info while searching for tips on my gas stove. I have the original directions-followed them to a T to convert to LP and still my oven flames come several inches above the floor. I managed to tweak the broiler to working order, but I have turned the oven down as far as I can and it still flames out-scary. It is a Kenmore 79078889902. I try and call locally, either they want to send someone out-cant afford it- or tell me I have to buy propane orifice for the oven, even after I tell them that the directions say to turn it down. Any ideas-I would like to use my gas oven instead of a toaster oven!
Brenda olsen

Walter Grace said...

You need to check your regulator.

Don said...

Walter, thanks for posting this description about the propane conversion.
Is it possible for the regulator to provide the proper pressure to the stove top burners and overpressure the oven burner? I have the same problem described above and have done the "trick" spud adjustment without success. My top burners are letter perfect but the oven has wide, high and yellow flames. Air damper is set to wide open. It looks like a classic over-fuel problem to me. I am going to try the spud adjustment yet another time this morning but it is not looking good at this point.
Range is brand new, BTW.

Walter Grace said...

Don, you may have a fixed orifice for the oven. I understand that this may be the case with some stoves.

Brandis Geddes said...

We just converted our kenmore stove from natural gas to lp and I am wondering if it is normal for the flames to go out and the to relight while it is baking... I haven't had a propane oven before and I don't know if this is a propane adjustment or if it is a temp regulation.? Help ... I'm just trying to cook dinner!

Walter Grace said...

Brandis, Yes is IS normal for the flames to go out and relight. Your oven is fine.