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

January 2002

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If Power Fails, UPS Delivers

You don't have to live in California to worry about electrical power. All over the United States, power authorities are straining against high consumer demand. Brownout conditions or unannounced outages may become more frequent in many locales. Why are computers so susceptible to sudden power loss? Most of the components in a computer are solid-state and unaffected by power dropouts. But the hard-disk drive is the Achilles heel of your computer system.

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.

Busting Your Shop Dust

Using modern power tools to cut, shape and sand wood, you can create useful and beautiful projects. You'll also create wood dust - probably lots of it. Ranging in size from the relatively large wood chips that might shoot out the back of a thickness planer to fine dust from sanding (with some particles smaller than one micron), this dust is more than a just a nuisance - it's downright dangerous. The dangers of wood dust in the shop come on two basic fronts: health hazards and fire risks.

The Energy Below

Imagine finding free energy on your property, so much of it that you'd never run out no matter how much you ran your furnace and air conditioner. Now for a surprise: There's a bonanza like that beneath your home right now, courtesy of the sun and the earth's massive ability to store heat. It's called geothermal energy, and it can be pumped out of the ground almost anywhere in the country by anyone willing to spend a relatively small amount of money to do it. The real surprise is that so few Americans go to the trouble.

Home Q&A: Chimney Cleaning

QUESTION:I've read a lot about dangerous chimney problems - fires and carbon monoxide poisoning, to name just two. How often should I have my chimney cleaned? ANSWER: Although many people know that their wood-burning chimneys need to be cleaned once a year, they neglect maintenance of other heating-appliance venting systems, including oil- or gas-burning furnaces and hot water heaters. All of these systems are as important to care for as your fireplace.

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