Innovative solutions for creating healthy, efficient, eco-friendly homes

January 2002

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Mastery Over Mold

For homeowners, mold is a four-letter word. Mold is ugly. Mold can make you sick - really sick. It can damage your carpets, sofas, cabinets and other furnishings. Over time it can rot wood, drywall, ceiling tiles and other structural components of your house. But homeowners don't have to be held captive by the mold that grows in their basements, on their bathroom floors or behind their walls.You can learn how to identify it and get rid of it. Mold has received a lot of attention lately.

Pool Owners Warming To Solar

The fastest-growing market for solar water systems is swimming pools. Last year, about 95 percent of the square footage of all solar collectors shipped to U.S. markets were for swimming pools. And there are good reasons why the number is that high. Solar heating systems for swimming pools can be very cost-effective. A recent analysis of such systems for pools in Florida found that homeowners generally recoup their investment in 1.5 to seven years. A system typically costs from $2,000 to $4,000 installed.

Home Q&A - Rotating Ball Faucet

Question: The rotating ball faucet in our master bathroom has developed a stubborn leak. The faucet seems to be in fine shape otherwise; it matches the rest of our single-lever plumbing fixtures, and to be totally honest - I don't feel like replacing the entire faucet just yet. Can you tell me how to repair it so I can get a few more years out of it? Answer: The first thing to try with any leaking rotating ball faucet is to tighten the cap, which is just under the handle and usually has a band of ridges on it much like the ridges on the edge of a quarter.

The Multi-talented Multimeter

To troubleshoot household, appliance or automotive wiring, you can buy all sorts of devices: receptacle analyzers, continuity testers, circuit finders and voltage testers. Or you can buy a multimeter. These multi-talented little devices are widely available for as little as $20 in both analog (swinging needle) and digital form. Even if you prefer your clocks to have hands, get the digital version of the multimeter. It is more accurate and more rugged. There are about as many uses for a multimeter as there are devices in a home.

Preserving Without Peril

When I go into my local building supply store to buy lumber, the first thing I'm asked is whether I want "white wood" or "green-treated." Over the last few years, my home projects have been a deck, a privacy fence for the back yard and low retaining walls in my garden. For these projects, I want the wood to last a long time, so I've bought green-treated lumber. But in recent years, this widely used product - also known as pressure-treated, or PT, lumber - has come under fire. Many people are concerned about its health effects, especially on children. Is the threat real?

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