1 Filter for Air, Heat in Most Cases


Q I bought a house that has a gas furnace in the ceiling and central air conditioning on the roof. Does each unit have a separate filter, or is one used for both? Where would the filter(s) be?

M. I.



A In most every application, you'd find that one filter serves both air conditioning and heating, says Joel Gwartz of BJ Discount Plumbing & Heating Supply in Garden Grove.

The first place to look for it is at the return air line. This is a grate from which air from the house is taken in and heated or cooled depending on which unit is on. It's often found on the ceiling, but it could also be along the bottom of a wall. The filter is often right behind the grill.

The grill might have two screws that hold it in place, then it drops down to allow you access to the filter. If you can't find it near the return air grate, it's probably up in the attic and attached to the furnace.


Q I've started growing bonsai trees, and I've succeeded in growing some of the flowering cherry trees to about 12 inches tall. Although I've been careful about watering them and exposing them to too much sunlight, the leaves on all of my trees have brown edges. What can I do?

C. H.



A This isn't an uncommon problem considering the type of water we have locally, says Sylvie Pham of Mimosa Nursery in Anaheim. If the salt level of the water is too high, that can cause the leaf burning you describe. You may want to try using filtered water; that should correct the problem.


Q Our electric stove has a baked enamel metal top. Over time, the enamel near the electric coils has turned brown. We've tried various cleaners, but nothing's worked. Any other ideas?

J. W. C.

Newport Beach


A The problem with enameled porcelain stove tops is that, while they're basically long-wearing and scratch-resistant, they will tend to "burn," the same way glass will discolor in high heat, says Tom Houlihan of Orange County Appliance Parts in Garden Grove.

Typically you'll see this kind of staining on older tops. The only way to get rid of it is to have the top "re-porcelainized."

There are many local companies that can do this. In most cases, the top can be easily removed so you can take it to them yourself.


Q We recently bought a condominium built in the '70s that has an old-fashioned, clear-bulb light fixture on the wall above the vanity in the master bath. I'd like to install a pair of recessed lights in the ceiling to replace the wall lights, but I'm wondering if I need to install some kind of splitter to divide the current wire into two.

W. O.

Santa Ana


A There's not really a "splitter" that's used; it's basically a simple task of correctly wiring the new lights, says Mike McCoy of Current Supply in Westminster.

Once you get the old fixture off, there's probably a junction box inside the wall that you'll be bypassing. The new recessed lights each have a junction box, so the wiring will go up the wall to the ceiling, then go to each light. It's kind of like continuing the run of the circuit, and it should run easily from the existing wall switch.

Also, be aware of a recent code requirement regarding ceiling fixtures. If the ceiling you're installing the light into has insulation around it, you'll need to select a fixture that is rated for insulated ceilings for fire safety.

Helping Hand Hint: Regarding a recent question concerning bad refrigerator odors, V.B. of Laguna Beach writes that after putting a pan of ordinary charcoal briquettes in her old refrigerator, she was able to get rid of all odors inside within a few days.

Send questions to: John Morell, Home Design, The Times Orange County, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.

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