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.

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.

What Lies Beneath

There's a time bomb in your basement, and you probably don't even know it. Down there with your furnace and tools are hazardous products for cleaning, painting, lubricating, disinfecting and scores of other uses. When used and stored properly, these household products are perfectly safe. But when it comes time to get rid of the quarter can of paint you've had for 10 years, the rat poison, the furniture polish or even mothballs that have been around longer than you can remember, these products can become downright dangerous.

Maintaining Your Cool

Whether you™ve got a room air conditioner or a central air conditioner, you™ve got one of the luxuries of modern life, now almost taken for granted. But you don™t take it for granted when it doesn™t work. With the cooling season here, there are steps homeowners can take to help keep their AC up and running. Moreover, performing this simple maintenance can help lower your electricity bills. Your air conditioner is a mechanical system, like a car. It likewise needs regular maintenance.

Plastering: An Old Skill's Comeback

The word "plaster" conjures up images of old, ornate homes, the kind with thick walls, Victorian furniture and perhaps a few Gothic columns out front. Drywall, of course, is the material of choice in most homes built over the past few decades. By and large, it is a fine product that is affordable and easy to install. But that doesn't mean that plaster is dead. Nowadays, a growing number of people are turning to veneer plaster - sometimes called thin-coat plaster - for construction in their new homes, room additions and renovations.

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