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

September 2007

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Bristling at Waste

Think about your paintbrushes. The handles never need replacement - just the bristles, right? So why do you have to buy a whole new brush? The theory behind the Envirobrush is a solution to this problem. The bristles can be easily removed and replaced by flipping a small clamp on the brush handle. The bristles, held together by a solid block of plastic at one end, are sold separately at a fraction of the cost of a full brush, the manufacturer says. The Envirobrush comes in three widths up to 2.5 inches. www.envirobrush.com

You're Fired

Most of us never think about our fire extinguisher. We assume that when we need it, it will work. But fire extinguishers lose pressure over time. That's not something you want to learn while there's a fire burning in your home. Mija has developed a home fire extinguisher that has an active electronic monitor. Called En-Gauge, it signals an alert (both visible and audible) when the extinguisher is removed from its location, when it loses pressure or when the battery is low.

Electricity Part 2: Home Wiring Code

In the previous installment we discussed the nature of electricity, how it gets into your house and the use of circuits to distribute it throughout the house (see How Home Wiring Works, Nov./Dec. 2004). We also considered the all-important subject of safety, including grounding, circuit breakers, ground-fault circuit interrupters and arc-fault circuit interrupters. In this issue we'll look at some of the specific requirements for residential wiring dictated by the National Electrical Code. It's important to understand that the NEC is not a law.

Media Magic

Say goodbye to your CDs and DVDs. They're about to disappear onto the trash heap of technology, taking their place alongside 45- and 33-rpm vinyl records, 8-track and cassette tapes, and videotapes. Replacing them will be a single electronic box, called a home media server, that will store music, movies and photos digitally, record live TV shows and serve as a home entertainment hub. This trend has been developing for some time, but it really took off with the introduction of the iPod, Apple's popular digital music player that is, in a sense, a mini-server.

When Your Drain Is a Pain

The natural reaction for many homeowners when they realize they have a clogged drain is to stand frozen at the spot where nothing is sinking but their spirits as they consider the likelihood of paying for a plumber. But it doesn't have to be that way. Many drain-line problems can be pinpointed and corrected by anyone with a basic understanding of their home's wastewater system. Knowing how your plumbing system works won't make unclogging jobs any less messy, but it will save you some real dollars over the years.   Easy First Fixes

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