Home & Garden

Gas odor in fireplace needs checking quickly

I have a gas fireplace that, when turned on, has an odor of gas (or an odor that I think gas would smell like). What is it and what can I do to get rid of that horrible smell? I've had the fireplace for four years.

Proper maintenance is an issue with just about everything, and if your fireplace has begun giving off a horrible smell when it is turned on after four years of use, I would suggest contacting the manufacturer or the installer directly and immediately for advice for your make or model, and not using the fireplace again until you have an answer.

Any gas appliance that does not, to the consumer, appear to be operating correctly requires immediate attention.

Each year, more than 400 Americans die from unintentional carbon-monoxide poisoning, more than 20,000 visit the emergency room, and more than 4,000 are hospitalized, according to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

BUGS IN THE CABINET

A column about possible infestation of an antique oak cabinet brought a response from a reader who faced a comparable problem.

“I did learn that it would be costly to get rid of the little pests in my antique dresser. The best way, I was told, was to bring my dresser in and have it placed in an extermination vault.

“But I did it a lot, lot cheaper. On the day I left for a two-week vacation I placed an entire box of mothballs in the dresser.

“When I got back, I removed the mothballs. There has been no recurrence of the little buggers.”

GETTING THE LEAD OUT

Carmen Vona of South Philadelphia is concerned that the word about lead-removal certification rules for remodeling contractors is not being disseminated widely enough.

Owner Richard Lee of Mr. Handyman of the Western Main Line provided the low-down on this in a Jan. 1 column, but it is worth repeating.

On April 22, federal law will require contractors who “disturb lead-based paint in homes, child-care facilities and schools built before 1978 to be certified and follow specific work practices to prevent lead contamination.”

The feds will require “proper” containment and cleanup when six or more square feet of lead-based paint will be “disturbed” in a home, Lee said.

Since December 2008, remodelers have been required by law to supply a brochure to customers outlining dangers and rules.

Information: www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm.

LESS MONEY, CHANGING TASTES

Without the rapid appreciation in home values seen between 1995 and 2005, kitchen and bathroom design is more modest, the American Institute of Architects reports.

Households are placing a premium on products and features that promote energy efficiency, and adaptability in the use of space for seniors and those with accessibility concerns.

AIA chief economist Kermit Baker said that “since kitchens remain the nerve center of the home, doing more with less space is a key consideration.”

Integrating kitchens with family space remains a design priority, as does including areas devoted to recycling, pantries, computer workstations, and spaces for recharging laptops, cell phones, and PDAs.

Baker also said homeowners were moving away from “glitzy features,” including steam showers and towel-warming drawers/racks, and were looking instead to water-saving toilets, radiant heated flooring, and LED lighting options designed to manage rising utility costs.

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