Q:  I would like to replace the natural gas cooktop on the island in our kitchen in my west Goleta townhome with a new electric induction cooktop. My concern is the toxic gases that are emitted from the burning of natural gas that have been in the news.

The natural gas cooktop that I have is original to the home, which was built in 1995. The house is on a cement slab foundation and the kitchen and dining area have cathedral ceilings with no attic.

Can I get an induction cooktop? What all would be involved with the installation?

Your Handyman: Great question! I also was very interested in all the recent news concerning natural gas cooktops and was surprised at how this issue seemed to come from out of the blue.

I do remember hearing about five years ago or so that the Environmental Protection Agency was considering requiring passive venting over gas ovens in new construction but don’t remember any discussion about gas cooktops, and I don’t think anything became of the issue.

I recently watched an NPR report on gas cooktop emissions and read a Wall Street Journal article that also was fairly extensive. I certainly can understand the long-term health issues of people, especially children, breathing the byproducts of burning natural gas.

Missing from both features was discussion about the mitigating effects of the use of a range hood to exhaust these gases to the outside of the home, reducing the concentrations of the toxic gas elements that, being the product of combustion, will be heated and presumably a significant amount would leave the kitchen via the hood duct.

As part of this public health concern, I would think that the effective care and use of the range hood would be a worthwhile part of the discussion.

Installing an induction cooktop may not work in all kitchens without significant expense.  From my experience, most induction cooktops require a 220-volt power supply with a minimum of 40 amps of power.

If your gas cooktop is original, then it is probably very unlikely that the builder installed the needed electrical supply to your island cabinets.

To make this installation would require that your circuit breaker panel has open space for a new 220-volt circuit breaker and also has adequate available amperage for the new appliance. Then a new 8-gauge, three-wire electrical cable will need to be run from the circuit breaker panel to inside of the cabinets in your kitchen island.

That would not be possible since your home is on a slab and the only way to bring the cable in would be via a crawl space under the house. Possibly in an older home the slab could be cut to bring in conduit for the new cable, but most newer homes are going to have a tensioned slab that shouldn’t be cut.

So, unfortunately, I don’t think this installation can happen for you. My suggestion would be to make sure the hood, which on your island is probably a down draft unit, is in good operating condition and be sure to use it whenever you are cooking on the island.

Home Maintenance Tip

According to the young computer wizards at Google, water damage comprises 56.90% of California homeowners’ insurance claims, making it the most common type of covered loss in the state.

Of these unfortunate water events, many are the result of excessive water pressure in the interior plumbing of the home. That is controlled by a simple plumbing device called a pressure regulator, which steps down the usually high-water pressure in the main water line in the street to about 55 psi, the recommended pressure for your home’s faucets, showers, toilets, etc.

The pressure regulator is basically just a spring with a rubber diaphragm that often needs to be replaced after 20 years or so of exposure to our hard water.

Have your plumber check your water pressure and then adjust the regulator as needed or replace it if it no longer can be adjusted.

Mark Baird

Mark Baird

Santa Barbara general contractor Mark Baird is a UC Santa Barbara alumnus, a multigenerational handyman and a longtime DIYer. He is the owner/manager of Your Handyman, a family-run company that has been helping local homeowners since 2006. Email your questions about your homes to mark@yourhandymansb.com. The opinions expressed are his own.