Lest you think J is the sole handy-person in the hizzle, here’s one of my recent projects: refreshing our battle-weary stovetop. Of course, you might think I should leave “house” projects to him in the future but I promise I don’t usually hose it this badly.
One thing leads to another
It began with the tiny rubber bumpers that cushion the glass cover from the stovetop ledge. They tend to deteriorate and shear off over time and ours were way past needing attention. They’re highly consumable bits so I hunted a decent source online and decided we needed a healthy backup supply. Quantity 30. That should hold us awhile. Add to cart.
While inspecting the bumpers, I noticed just how worn the stove grate was. I don’t look at it too closely while cleaning but now, with my face millimeters from it, I couldn’t unsee how much of the black coating had failed in the area around the front burner that we use most often. Add to cart.
While inspecting at the grate I looked up. Ew. Ugh, we’ve never cleaned the vent filter! We’ve had so many more pressing issues to manage this whole time. Can’t unsee that either. Even though they’re washable, ours was beyond gross. For a few dollars, let’s start fresh. Add to cart.
Easy peasy. At first.
Ah, the glorious day the parts arrive!
Changing out the filter took a hot minute. The grate even less. Those fat-finger-defying little rubber bumpers, though? Argh!
First I had to get the damaged, but still intact, bumpers out. For all the little buggers that failed, the ones that stuck around were ready to fight to the death. They’re specifically designed to not go up or down once in place. That’s their job. So when you need them to, it takes a good bit of force. In my case, I found most of them were more readily pushed down than pulled out. So now there are little rubber bumper carcasses forever entombed in the cabinet gap around the oven. I can live with that.
Shooting myself in the foot
I made it through the removal process with only mild oaths. Getting the new bumpers installed was a different story entirely. Which was mostly my fault since I was trying to cram the project into a busy day and I was feeling rushed but just wanted to get the thing done. I also underestimated the project thinking I could knock it out without too much hassle before lunch. So yeah, I was hangry on top of it all. Not a recipe for success.
Under those conditions, I went far down the wrong path before I realized the error of my ways. The bumpers wouldn’t readily push in from above after many attempts at different techniques. So I had the notion that pulling them into place from underneath by their pointy ends would be the simplest thing to do.
I had to figure out how to get to that part of the stovetop, though. First, I pulled off the grate and the top cover to inspect the possibility. Hmmm… ok, if I just unscrew this part, I might be able to get to it. No. Ok, how about this one. Then that one. And so on.
Every section I unscrewed and removed led to another that needed to come out to achieve my goal. And another. And another. I’d practically torn the entire range apart until I realized I would need to disconnect the gas and pull the the whole ting out for my plan to work. By that time, it was evident that the little rails the bumpers sit on are the first things installed at the factory. Everything attaches from there. So everything would have to come out to get under them. Everything.
Yes, it took me that long for it to finally occur to me that this could not be how this simple project is supposed to be accomplished. I finally acknowledged I needed to step away from the project before I destroyed the range. The profanity unleashed that day is probably still orbiting the International Space Station.
Stepping away, I took a deep breath, sat down with a snack, and regained my composure. I assessed the battlefield that was our not-even-a-one-person kitchen. Then I calmly rebuilt the range and placed the easily-lost tiny rubber bumpers in a container for safekeeping until another day.
If at first you don’t succeed
During all this, J was off doing something else—probably filling propane tanks—so he didn’t witness the carnage. If he had been here though, he would have stopped me early in the process with his typical “I bet there’s a YouTube video about this,” research. Did that occur to me in my hunger-fueled frenzy? Not even for a moment.
When he returned and I relayed my trials to him, he had some good suggestions that, oddly enough, didn’t involve YouTube. Once we decided to return to the project, we used vegetable oil on the pointy ends of the bumpers to help them overcome the rubber-on-metal friction that was keeping them from sliding into the rail holes from above. The first couple were clumsy and took several tries but it was working. Eventually I found just the right “pinch” on the aggravating little beasts that allowed them to pop into place. In very little time, relatively speaking, we had the project ticked off the to-do list. It was quite anticlimactic, really.
To prevent—or at least minimize—future frustrations, we’ve refined our maintenance processes.
- I set a reminder in our home maintenance schedule to wash the filter at certain intervals so it’s staying un-gunked now.
- We’ve spread out the abuse on the stove grate by using the rear burners more frequently. We’ll still have to swap it our from time-to-time but hopefully this practice will add some longevity to its life.
- We now have a stash of those annoying little bumpers on hand to replace as needed. And we know how to use them. Learning curve escape velocity was achieved even if it was the hard way.
In other news, I’m pretty well-versed in how the range and oven are attached to the cabinetry. It was an unintentionally educational experience.
In the end and in spite of the project escalating from a seemingly simple task to a scene worthy of a bad sitcom episode, the ROI was high. The parts weren’t too costly and we reduced some of the shabbiness of the trailer. That improves our state of mind in a big way.
In a small space, everything is condensed. You’re never more than a few feet from all of those nagging maintenance issues so all of the run-down bits are always in your face. Even if you don’t necessarily catalog them everyday, you’re always “seeing” them and that impacts your quality of life.
So I’m glad I did it. It was worth it. But I have made a mental note to pick my timing better, have a snack, and watch YouTube in advance next time.