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

May 2002

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Whole-House HEPA

Indoor air quality is a hot topic these days. Asthma and allergies seem to be epidemic - a reflection, some experts say, of building practices that are producing tighter, and therefore more polluted, houses. Broan-NuTone is targeting the problem with its GuardianPlus whole-house HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filtration system. Guardian Plus units are lightweight and small enough to install in tight spots like utility rooms or closets, can be fitted to either new or existing forced-air systems, and can handle up to 2,500 square feet of living space.

Where There's Fire...

Pity the homeowner who tries to sort out the facts about unvented gas heaters. Unvented fireplaces have become popular over the past two decades because they are designed to be installed anywhere in a home without being vented outside. Homeowners find that flexibility and simplicity hard to pass up. Yet as their popularity has built, so has opposition. Critics say unvented heaters are potentially dangerous - a source of indoor carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and damaging moisture.

Foundations: Technology Beats the Heat

Keeping a home warm was relatively simple once we had fire. But making a home cool in hot weather was a problem that took millennia of human history to solve. Even the usually clever Romans were technologically helpless against sweltering Italian summers: They resorted to sacrificing dogs in hopes the gods would lift the heat that accompanied the rising of Sirius, the Dog Star, every July.

End of the Road for CCA-Treated Wood

After a long debate about its safety, lumber pressure-treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA) will soon be a thing of the past. The nation's lumber industry has voluntarily agreed to reduce the production of CCA-treated wood and to phase it out entirely by December 2003. The agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency follows years of criticism by environmentalists and others who contend that the arsenic in CCA poses a health threat to those who touch it.

A Bricklaying Glossary

Admixtures: Materials added to mortar to impart special properties to the mortar. Backfilling: Rough masonry built behind a facing or between two faces. Backup: That part of a masonry wall behind the exterior facing. Bat: A piece of brick. Bed Joint: The horizontal layer of material on which a masonry unit is laid. Brick: A solid masonry unit of clay or shale that is formed into a rectangular shape while plastic and burned or fired in a kiln. Buttering: Placing mortar on a masonry unit with a trowel.

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