The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the air inside your home may be up to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Trane, a manufacturer of heating and cooling equipment, is offering up a solution to the mold, mildew, pet dander, pollen, cooking grease, etcetera that is trapped indoors by today's energy-efficient homebuilding techniques.
The company's new CleanEffects filter system claims a 99.98 efficiency rate in filtering airborne particles down to a size of .3 microns. How big is .3 microns? About 1/300th of the diameter of an average human hair.
The filter is installed in the return duct of a home's forced-air system. As the existing fan pushes air through the HVAC ducts it passes through the filter's multiple stage system. A typical one-inch filter is the first line of defense against pet hair and other easy-to-grab particles. Next, the airborne particles pass through an electrified grid that adds a charge to the tiny particles. Finally, the namesake CleanEffects filter traps the charged particles before the air is heated or cooled and sent back to the living room. The filters are washable.
I watched a simple test (using a not-so-simple machine called a laser particle anaylyzer) that demonstrated the results. An air sample from a room was taken and showed a reading of about 30,000 to 40,000 particles per cubic centimeter of air (think: size of a sugar cube). The same machine was then used to test air that had passed through the Trane filter system. The reading dropped to 5,000 to 7,000 particles per cubic centimeter.
Trane estimates the installed cost of the unit (including contractor's fees) to be around $1400. It can be retrofitted to work with existing forced-air heating and cooling systems. The unit itself uses very little electricity; however in order for it to work, the fan that circulates hot and cold air in your home has to be running.
It seems you can’t walk into tool land at your local home center without multiple laser beams guiding you on a straight path to the checkout counter. Some laser products are gimmicky, while others are a true enhancement. If your old workhorse-of-a-miter saw still cuts true but your eyes are not what they used to be, retrofitting a laser guideline is a great idea. Irwin’s new miter saw laser guide sits flush against the saw blade for an accurate line. The guide has an automatic on/off switch that is activated when the saw spins at over 400 RPMs, projecting a visible red laser line just to the left of the cut. The laser guide fits all 8 ¼“, 8 ½”, 10” and 12” miter saws, with the exception of Bosch, Ridgid, and Protech. Expect to pay under $30.
Somewhere the power is going to go out tonight—storm, accident, bills, whatever. According to the Electric Power Research Institute 3.5 million people lose power in the U.S. each week. I found this list of 10 portable generator safety tips on my desk. They are from Briggs & Stratton, but apply to any generator, anywhere, any time. It would be foolish not to share them with the unlucky 3.5 million folks who don't have power. Please read this before the lights go out and fire up your generator—it might save your life.
1. Always read and follow the manufacturer's operating instruction before running generator.
2. Engines emit carbon monoxide. DO NOT run generator in enclosed area.
3. Use your generator outdoors only, away from open windows, vents, or doors. Never use your generator inside homes, garages, crawl spaces, or other enclosed areas. Fumes that can kill you can build up in these areas. Using a fan and opening doors or windows does NOT provide enough fresh air.
4. Use a battery-powered carbon monoxide detector when running your generator.
5. Gasoline and its vapors are extremely flammable, allow engine to cool at least two minutes before refueling. Always use fresh gas in your generator. If you do not plan to use your generator in 30 days, stabilize the gas with fuel stabilizer.
6. Maintain your generator according to the maintenance schedule for peak performance and safety.
7. DO NOT operate the generator near combustible materials.
8. When using extension cords, be sure they are of the grounded type and are rated for the application. Coiled cords can get HOT, always uncoil cords and lay them in flat open locations.
9. If you are connecting a generator into your home electrical system, have a qualified electrician install a Power Transfer Switch. Never plug your generator into your home outlet.
10. Protect your generator from exposure to rain or snow. Generators produce powerful voltage; DO NOT operate under wet conditions.
Beware! Sometime this summer—or maybe as early as the spring—you or someone you love will suffer a stubbed toe while shuffling across the deck toward the barbeque tray. The culprit? A popped nail. To avoid unwanted expletives at your next outdoor gathering consider hidden deck fasteners. Pictured is a fastener from Tiger Claw. They are available in various configurations for soft woods like pine and pressure treated lumber, composite decking, exotic hardwoods like ipe and teak, and even plastic and vinyl decking materials. At Home Depot, Menards, Ace, etc.