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

November 2001

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A Painting Glossary

Acrylic: A type of synthetic polymer used as the binder for high-performance, water-based paints and caulks. Alkyd: A synthetic resin used in oil-based paints. Alligatoring: A scaly pattern that appears on paint due to the inability of the paint to bond to a glossy coating beneath it. It can also be due to the application of a hard coating over a soft primer, or (with oil-based paint) because the wood was re-coated before the undercoat was dry. Binder: A component of paint that binds the pigment particles into a uniform, continuous paint film and makes the paint adhere to the surface.

Disinfecting With UV

Whether they're in the air or in your water, bacteria and viruses are not welcome visitors in your house. New products are using ultraviolet radiation to rid them from both elements. Indoor Innovations, of Richmond, Va., says its Phase 2 UV system will help reduce the occurrence of illnesses caused by airborne pathogens. The device features a long, UV-emitting light bulb that is inserted into the main- or return-air plenum of a forced-air furnace. The light is attached to a housing that mounts outside the duct.

Engineered Wood: The Best of New & Old

Since its earliest days, America's relationship with wood has been marked by determination and innovation. Faced with thick forests, the first settlers cleared the land, used the logs for building and launched the American timber industry. It's not surprising that wood was the first export from the Jamestown settlement in 1607.

Understanding R-Values

There's nothing like talk of an energy crisis to get people pondering their insulation. Whether it's stuffed into an attic crawlspace or sandwiched into the cavities of a wall, the yardstick most people use to measure insulation is R-value. The more Rs you've got, the better equipped you'll be to ride out the next energy drought. But even for those well-prepared homeowners who can recite the R-value of their walls faster than their own Social Security numbers, this most fundamental measurement of insulation is often misunderstood. Few homeowners know what "R" is, never mind its value.

Busting Your Ice Dams

Anyone living in a cold climate has seen ice dams - those sparkling bands of ice that form along a roof's edge in the heart of winter. While they may look beautiful, they can be quite destructive. Ice dams develop when snow on the upper part of the roof melts. Water runs down the roof slope under the blanket of snow and re-freezes into a band of ice at the roof's edge, creating a dam. More melted water pools against the dam and eventually leaks into the building under roofing or through roof trim.

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