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Plumbing can be a tricky task – especially when you throw in all of the common misperceptions and “tricks” that Do-It-Yourselfers sometimes rely on. We thought it might be a good idea to post some common questions, with answers, to the wonderful world of plumbing.


1. How can I make my disposal smell fresh again?

It’s long been thought that a simple lemon will do the trick. However, putting a lemon down the disposal can actually do more harm than good. While this may be a temporary fix in terms of a nice fresh smell, the citric acid from the lemon (or any citrus fruit – depending on your scent preference) can cause corrosion on the metal in your disposal. A better idea is to put ice cubes down the disposal. While it will be noisy, the ice does a great job cleaning and polishing the disposal. It will remove the scum that is causing the bad odor in the first place.


2. Does running water really help wash down waste placed in the sink disposal?

This is something we have all done at one time or another. We place waste in the disposal and then flip on the faucet to watch it all go down. But, you may have noticed this doesn’t really work at times. The reason it’s not working? The food and waste is still traveling down the drain in front of the water. So, just like sending “dry” waste down the disposal, the buildup and block is occurring before the water arrives. This isn’t to say water won’t help in any disposal situation.  Filling the bottom of your sink with a little bit of water, adding the waste you want to send down the drain, then turning on the disposal should be effective. This gives the sitting water a chance to break up the food and let’s the two go down the disposal at the same time, making it a smooth process all around.


3. Are plumbing fixtures low maintenance?

While fixtures often seem sturdy and stable regardless of age, leaving them unattended to or unused can cause some big problems. The performance of these plumbing fixtures can suffer after long periods of ignored care or sitting for a long time without being used. Parts and pieces can deteriorate if you don’t turn fixtures such as faucets on every once in a while. Don’t forget about uncommonly used sinks in basements or garages and even water spigots outside. Taking a few short minutes to run these faucets can keep them running properly for years and ensure you’ll have water when you do need it from these sources.

With their 26 year-old furnace needing significant repairs, the Widdles of Carnation, Washington decided it was time to invest in a new heating system that provided much more efficiency than their current outdated unit. Their old furnace was a Rheem, which they had been happy with while it was in working order, so they decided to stick with that trusted brand. The old Rheem was replaced with a brand new, extremely efficient unit – the Rheem Classic Series High Efficiency Furnace.


old furnace (left), the work in progress (middle) and new Rheem 95% AFUE (right)


A favorite of customers wanting high efficiency and maximum indoor air quality, this gas furnace comes fully equipped with Rheem’s Dual Comfort Control technology. As we have mentioned in previous installation posts, the 95% AFUE 2-stage furnace is one of the quietest models on the market, providing home comfort without the annoying loud noise of older furnaces. Because of the new furnace’s high-efficiency rating, the Widdles also qualified for a furnace rebate through Puget Sound Energy. As a certified Puget Sound Energy contractor, our Bel Red team made sure they took advantage of this great rebate program.

As is the case in many new home purchasers, the Platt’s of Bothell, WA acquired an outdated furnace with his new house.  The furnace that was heating the house was a 30-year-old gas furnace that was low on efficiency and high on operating cost. John knew he needed to replace the furnace upon moving into the house, so he called in a team from Bel Red to get the work done right away.


On Mr. Platt’s wish list was a combination of greater efficiency and more comfort than the old furnace could provide. He also wanted something that could fit within his new home budget. The solution was a Rheem Prestige Series variable speed 80% gas furnace. This furnace with a 2-stage gas valve provides quiet operation and ensures comfortable temperatures throughout the home with more precise heating output and gentle mixing of the air. The last thing a homebuyer wants is fluctuating temperatures and uncomfortable air in their new house. Fortunately, the Platt’s won’t have to deal with that after this Rheem furnace upgrade. The Rheem Prestige Series 80% furnace also comes with Rheem’s trademarked Comfort Control System, which automatically detects certain problems with the furnace and alerts the homeowner when service is required.


Old furnace (left) replaced by Rheem Prestige Series (right)


To complement the new gas furnace and to improve overall comfort, the Bel Red team also installed a new base-can and rebuilt the old plenums. The new plenums were sealed and insulated to ensure maximum efficiency with the new system. A new return duct was also installed so that air could be mixed from both levels of the home, rather than just the upstairs.

The regional energy standards saga continues. If you’re a Bel Red blog regular, you probably remember reading posts about the rollercoaster energy conservation litigation between the Department of Energy (DOE) and members of the energy industry, including the American Public Gas Association (APGA).


As we discussed in the first post on the subject, in July 2011 the Department of Energy published a direct final rule as part of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (EPCA) that would require certain energy efficiency standards in different regions throughout the country.  One of these regulations was the implementation of a minimum 90% Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) standard for non-weatherized gas furnaces in the northern regions. These standards were set to be implemented on May 1st, 2013. Many industry members, including the APGA, thought this was too extreme and challenged the new regional standards.


In January of this year, the APGA (along with industry members) and the DOE reached what appeared to be an agreement to settle the challenge. The settlement agreement would, among other things, vacate the energy conservation standards, including the 90% AFUE requirements for northern regions. The settlement agreement required court approval, which turned out to take longer than expected. With the May 1st, 2013 compliance date fast approaching, the settlement has still yet to be approved by the court. As we discussed in our most recent post on the topic, this delay has been causing much uncertainty within the industry. Without a ruling, many feared major problems when it came to installation and availability of certain furnaces. While some of these problems may still arise prior to an official court ruling, the Department of Energy recently released an important statement on the issue.

The Zamoras of Bellevue, WA had an old furnace that needed excessive repairs. Rather than go through the costly repairs and keep the old system, they decided to replace it altogether with the help of our Bel Red installation team.  The Zamoras decided to install an extremely efficient hybrid system—a combination of a high efficiency gas furnace and an energy efficient heat pump.


The gas furnace installed was a Rheem Classic Series high efficiency furnace. The Classic Series from Rheem is one of the higher rated AFUE gas furnaces offered. This 2-stage, variable speed gas furnace provides exceptional comfort and temperature management for the home. It also has a variable speed blower that will result in gently mixed air in the home for balanced and even temperatures in all rooms.


Old and new furnace


The Rheem Classic Series gas furnace was paired with a Rheem Classic Series heat pump—increasing the overall efficiency of the new heating system. This particular heat pump has efficiencies up to 15 SEER (Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio).  The Zamoras can also now expect added comfort during the upcoming summer months with the air conditioning this system brings—something they did not have before. This model also features an attractive low profile design with a wrap-around jacket that protects the coil from yard hazards or extreme weather conditions. The Zamoras also decided to improve the air filtration in their home and had a Honeywell F300 electronic air cleaner installed along with the new heating system.