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

May 2002

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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.

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.

Water and Sewage

In the last issue, we discussed getting access (road or driveway) and electricity to a building site. In most states a plot of land is not considered buildable - you won't be allowed a building permit - unless it is served by a sewer line or the soil is acceptable for on-site sewage disposal. This brings us to the remaining site services: water and sewage. WATER If you buy bottled water, you've seen distilled water on the shelves as well. The process of distillation - evaporation followed by condensation - removes all impurities from water, making it pure and nearly tasteless.

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.

On Deck: Composites

Decks are an important part of our homes and lifestyles. As transition areas between the inside of the house and the yard, they can provide space to entertain or just a pleasant spot to drink a cool one on a summer evening. Estimates put the number of residential decks in the United States at more than 30 million. And about 3.2 million new wood decks, porches, verandas and balconies are built every year" either as part of a new home, an addition to an existing home, or a replacement for older installation.

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