Since I moved into this apartment, I've put up with what I feel to be a sub-standard stove. I'm not 100% sure, though, so I'd like to get the opinions of other renters out there.
This is a gas stove. Nothing wrong with that. In fact, after years of using an electric in Berkeley I'm finding that I quite like the instant heat control that gas affords. What's wrong with it, though, is the heat control.
As I understand it, this is how gas stove heat control works: It starts at Off, meaning no gas is flowing. As you turn it, the vents very rapidly open to allow full-strength gas flow just as the knob hits "Light." While the knob's on "Light," the electronic sparker (This gas stove has an electronic ignition) does its sparky thing. You hold the knob there until the gas ignites, then keep turning the knob. The next setting is High, and from there as you continue the move the knob it gradually constricts the vents, decreasing gas down to the lowest simmer setting, where the knob stops. At simmer, there's enough gas flowing to keep the burner ignited, but just barely so you get a minimal flame.
My stove is just like that, except for all the stuff after the word "High." It goes to High, and that's it. You can't turn it further. Technically, when you use my stove, you have two heat choices: Full Blast, and Off. This seemed quite curious to me, so I looked up my stove's manufacturer on-line. It's out of business. And has been for 15 years. Nonetheless, from looking around I've found a few references to stoves like this. According to the manufacturers, the inability to set the heat to anything but high is a safety feature; when you set it lower, it increases the chance of the flame going out, thereby flooding your house with gas and causing your premature demise. You don't want that, do you?
This, clearly, is bullshit.
For one, my parents have a gas stove at home. It works in the way I described above. They had a gas stove before that. It also worked in the way described above.
The manufacturers recommend you learn to shift your pots and pans back and forth. Since you can't get a low flame, if you need to simmer something you just put it on a high flame for thirty seconds, leave it off for a minute or so, then put it back on, and so on. By learning to rapidly shift pots and pans around, you can work miracles with your piece of shit stove!
Obviously, this is unsatisfactory.
So I called the building manager. She sent her assistant, the fast-talking lady who first gave me my keys and showed me the apartment. I tried to explain the problem.
"There's no problem with this stove. Look, you turn it, it turns on!"
"But I can't keep turning it. It only gives high heat."
"Oh. Well, look, like this, you can turn it backwards, see! Past light!"
"You mean between light and off?"
"Sure! Perfect flame control."
"...But normal stoves, with normal heat control, have slow valve controls so you can get precise heat control."
"So? You don't need that!"
"... And they stop it so you can't accidentally lose the flame, but still have gas running. Setting it between Light and Off seems like a great way to flood the apartment with gas."
"Nah! You just gotta be careful!"
"I still don't think this is right."
"Well, this is how all gas stoves work!"
"No, every other gas stove I've seen has worked the way I described."
"Well, those must have all been, like, fancy expensive restaurant stoves!"
"No. They weren't."
"Look, there's nothing wrong, and you're not getting a new stove. You gonna sign my work order saying the problem's solved?"
"But it isn't!"
"And it's never gonna get solved, but I can't leave 'till you sign the order."
So anyhow, I think she's wrong. But I could be wrong; maybe most gas stoves do work this way and I'm making a big deal about nothing. But if I'm overcome by cooking gas, or die in a giant oven explosion, I'm going to haunt the living fuck out of that lady.
To give you a clearer idea: Here's a video of me operating the stove. Enjoy!Download Stove.avi