My kitchen appliances

For the kitchen remodel we’re doing, we had to order new appliances.  I’ve already talked about my range, and range hood.  In addition to those appliances, we needed a wall oven, a fridge, and a pair of microwaves.  We had to buy a new dishwasher when we bought the house but we bought it knowing we would be remodeling so we knew we’d be reusing it.


We bought our dishwasher when we first moved into the house.  The one that came with the house was probably older than I am, and didn’t actually wash dishes.   Dishwashers come in two general styles, they either have a filter or a garbage disposal built in.  I was adamant that I wanted a garbage disposal, I hate the idea of cleaning a filter and I like that a garbage disposal lets me be lazy about pre-rinsing.  This ruled out the european models, Bosch, Miele, and Asko.  They’re all really nice machines but no disposal means no choice.
For me this was an easy choice, I’ve purchased KitchenAid dishwashers twice before for my rental house and have never had any problems with them.  The model I purchased has three shelves.  The top shelf is a silverware shelf.  This frees up space in the bottom shelf since you don’t need a silverware tray (but it comes with one anyways).


Refrigerators come in three different styles: Standard depth, Counter Depth and Built-in.  Standard depth fridges are the type most people have, they are deeper than counters which means if they are against a wall with counters they will stick out.  Counter depth are just that, fridges that are designed to be flush with a standard 24″ kitchen counter.  The last class are built-in fridges.  These refrigerators are attached to the walls and are often covered with cabinet panels to blend in.
We ruled out built-in fridges right away, they’re extremely expensive, 3x the cost of the other types.  In short, too rich for our blood.
We also ruled out the standard depth fridges because of our floor plan, the fridge is going to be in line with a wall of cabinets and I didn’t want the fridge to stick out.  This left us with counter depth fridges.  Next requirement was that the fridge have french doors and a bottom freezer, no real reason for this other than we prefer this door style.  
Finally, we wanted a large, and well laid out fridge.  I don’t know anyone who ever said “I wish my fridge wasn’t so big”.
We narrowed it down to three choices: KitchenAid, Samsung, and LG.  The LG and Samsung are definitely larger but we liked the layout of the KitchenAid more.  The KitchenAid is 22 cubic feet while the other two were 26.  However, the KitchenAid had the ice in the bottom and didn’t have an exterior water dispenser this meant that the doors held more.  The Samsung does better in the JD Power reviews and we ruled out the LG because they don’t have as strong of a service network in our area.  
We ended up selecting the KitchenAid, it seemed like the best choice for us, but like the wall oven, it isn’t a super exciting purchase for us.
KitchenAid KFCS22EV

Wall Oven

We chose a 30″ convection wall oven made by KitchenAid.  We aren’t big bakers but given that this oven is smaller than the one in the Capital (30″ instead of 36″), we’ll end up using it more often when we need to bake because it’s smaller and faster to heat.  We were between KitchenAid and Electrolux, we ended up going with KitchenAid because we got a better price.  We liked both oven’s control panels but in the end, we didn’t spend a lot of time on the oven.  KitchenAid cooking products do very well in the JD Power reviews.  It’s hard for me to get excited about an electric wall oven, at the end of the day, it’s a box that heats.  So what if it has a dehydrate feature or a temperature probe?  I don’t know that I’ll ever use those.
We chose the KEBS107SS, at the end of the day, it’s a box that heats.


We planned for two microwaves in our remodel.  We usually get questions about this, but we have two now and love it.  Most of the time we use microwaves it’s to heat leftovers.  Two microwaves means we can heat two plates of leftovers at once.  This means we eat together and both eat hot food.  Frankly, I don’t know why more people don’t have two.  While we wanted two, I absolutely didn’t want a built in microwave.  As far as I can tell, all microwaves have basically the same components inside, the difference between a $700 and a $200 microwave is $500 in markup.  Built-ins are expensive,  and need to be repaired when they break.  I’d rather throw away a broken counter top microwave than fix a built in.  The repair trip will cost as much as the new counter top microwave will.
For microwave, we went Panasonic.  Panasonic has gotten rid of the annoying rotating plate.  Rather than have the food rotate, they rotate the microwave antenna.  This means this microwave is easier to clean, and I don’t have to fight with a plate that comes off of the rotator.
Panasonic is very proud of their design change.

Water 101: Know how to shut off the water main.

In a previous post, I mentioned that my water line broke and we had trouble getting it turned off.

Knowing how to turn your water off is a basic home ownership skill that everyone should have.  Here are the basics.

Ideally, every home has two water main turnoffs, one inside the house and one on the outside of the house.  The valve on the inside of the house may or may not exist, it really depends on how old the house is.  Here’s an example of what it might look like:

I chose this picture because it shows two types of valves, a quarter turn valve (the one the arrow is pointing at) and a regular valve (on the spigot).  You could see either of these types in your home.
Even if you don’t have an indoor water shutoff valve, you definitely have one on the outside of the house.  Walk around the edge of your property and look for a cast iron box like this one:
CWM stands for “City Water Meter”

This metal plate is the hatch on your water valve.  If you lift the cover off you’ll find a shutoff valve as well as a dial.  This is the dial the city reads every month or two to determine usage.  If you can’t find your meter call: 206-684-5800 and they’ll help you locate it.

Underneath the metal cover, you’ll see the water meter and an access valve, if you have a modern valve, it’ll look like this:

This is the “modern” style valve.  Turning it is easy, use a crescent wrench or vice grip and rotate so that the two holes line up, that puts it in the “off” position.  This meter is currently in the “on” position.
But what if you have the old style?  If you don’t have this kind of valve, then your valve requires a special tool, a water valve key.  Unfortunately, keys come in a bunch of different styles, I *think* the old style Seattle one is the pentagon style key.  Be warned though, the old valves are easy to break, when the city came to turn off the water on mine, they broke it twice trying to turn it off.  A better option is to call city utilities at 206-684-5800 and see if you can talk them into switching you to the new style.  Otherwise, when you do need it off, you’ll have to call the city emergency number: 206-386-1800.  They use the term “emergency” real loosely, in my case, it took them a few hours to get to my house and this was in the middle of the day.

How and Why I moved my gas meter.

In preparation for our remodel, I had to upgrade and move my gas meter.  This is the story of how and why we did it.

Why did you move your gas meter?

My current gas meter is in the way of what will be my new front door.  Obviously, it’d be an imposition on guests to make them step over the meter when coming in the house but it’s also not to code.  Code requires 3 feet of clearance from any passive air intake and 10 feet from any mechanical air intake.  There are a lot of other placement rules too, PSE puts them all in a handy guide.

Why did you upgrade your gas meter?

My house originally had the model A250 gas meter.  The A250 is rated up to 300,000 BTU/hr.  A BTU or British Thermal Unit equates to the amount of energy required to heat one pound of water from 39 to 40 degrees Celsius.  In order to calculate the BTU used, you add all of the load of all of the appliances in your home that use gas.  If it’s a load that’s always on like a furnace or water heater, you use the full amount, if it’s a transient load like an oven or fireplace, then you take 75% of the load.
Here’s the breakdown for my house:

Even with the 25% deduction, I’m still over the 300k BTU limit.  My new meter is the A450 which is good for up to 540k BTU.  This is sounds like a lot more, but a tankless water heater is a 200k BTU load which means my total gas usage will eventually be 491,250 BTU/hr.  This means I have 40k left if I ever want to add a space heater to my deck.

How do you move your meter?

First thing you do is call Puget Sound Energy at 1-888-321-7779.  They will tell verify your load calculations and also check to see if the line coming to your home can handle the new load.  I got lucky, my house has a steel pipe going to it that’s worth up to 1,000,000 BTU/hr.  New homes get a plastic pipe that caps out at 400k BTU.
PSE will assign you a project number and then you’ll be contacted by Infrasource, PSE’s exclusive contractor for doing the line move.  Infrasource will come to your home, do a site survey and work with you to find a new location for the meter.  They’ll call you with an estimate.  PSE subsidizes the cost of the move if you’re upgrading service.  Once you agree on the price, they’ll mail you a contract.  You send it back signed and they’ll schedule the move.
PSE will only handle the work on the outside of the house.  Work done on the inside needs to be done by a licensed contractor.  This work can be done by plumbers, or HVAC companies.  As usual, get multiple bids.  In my case, I got two: one for $2,345 and one for $900.  I went with the $900 and was happy I did.  The contractor you choose will need to pull a permit and you’ll have to ge tthe work inspected before PSE will let you connect the new meter.  
The easiest way to do this is to have the interior contractor do all of the work on the inside of the house without taking your gas offline.  They can get the work inspected, and then have them come back when PSE does the outside work.  If you show the Infrasource crew your signed permit, they’ll connect the new meter to the pipe.  Once all of the work is done, PSE will send a technician to relight your appliances.

How does Infrasource actually move the meter?

Infrasource digs two holes in your hard, one where the existing line is and one where the meter is going to be.  They then use a tool called a “mole” to bore a tunnel between those two points.  They then run a new plastic pipe between the two locations.  When they’re done, all you’re left with is a white cap in your yard where they moved the gas line.

How did it go for you?

My job ran into a few snags.  First off, they accidentally cut my water line.  The ground in my yard was really hard so they used a pneumatic spade to break up the dirt.  In the process, they did a number on my water line.  The yellow pipe in the picture is the original gas line, the mangled copper line below it is what’s left of my water line, that copper line should be straight and round.
As soon as they broke the line, they tried to turn off my water.  Unfortunately, my house had an old style water shutoff so we had to call the water emergency line for the city and have them come out and turn the water off.  The woman from the city water department was awesome, not only did she turn my water off, she replaced the valve with the modern one and helped the gas company fix my leak.  You can see the patched line and the new gas line in this picture:
When it was all said and done, I had my new meter installed and you couldn’t even tell any work had been done.