Product Recall: Lasko ceramic space heaters

Lasko Ceramic Space Heater

Lasko Products has recalled 1.2 million ceramic heaters produced in 2005. These heaters are a fire hazard as “localized heating may occur in the power cord where the cord enters the base of the unit“.

Chances are you aren’t using your heater right now. Still Lasko advises consumers to stop using the affected heaters immediately.

As of the recall date, the manufacturer had received 28 reports of failed power cords, with six reports of minor property damage. No injuries have occurred.

The recalled models are the 5132, 5345, 5362, 5364, 5420, 5532, 5534, and 5566; all except the 5420 are “tower” heaters like the one shown above. You’ll find the model numbers on the bottom of the units or at the rear of the base of the heaters, which were made in China for Lasko Products Inc., of West Chester, Pennsylvania.

Source: Consumer Reports Home & Yard blog.

Check for your model and get full replacement instructions online at the Lasko Product Recall page or call Lasko Products toll free at 1-800-984-3311 for replacement.

Sued for bad reviews on Angie’s List – what happened? (Updated)

Back in March I wrote a post about homeowners getting sued for bad reviews on Angie’s List and have been wondering what happened … I hadn’t seen any follow up stories until reading Eric Goldman’s Technology & Marketing Law blog. Since then I’ve found more info and this post has been appropriately updated.

To recap, home improvement contractor Stephen C. Sieber ( SCS Contracting Group ) launched multi-million dollar defamation lawsuits against 2 homeowners who wrote negative reviews (with F ratings) on Angie’s List, as originally published in this Washington Post story.

So what happened? According to the recent John Kelly article, Sieber dropped the lawsuits against the home owners. The lawsuits (Sieber v. Mattera and Sieber v. Hammock ) were settled and dismissed without prejudice a month after filing meaning that they agreed to settle but without setting any precedents. Sieber could technically sue the homeowners again for the same reason. From answers.com:

A plaintiff is not subsequently barred from suing the same defendant on the same cause of action when a court grants a dismissal without prejudice of his or her case. Such a dismissal operates to terminate the case. It is not, however, an ultimate disposition of the controversy on the merits, but rather it is usually based upon procedural errors that do not substantially harm the defendant’s rights. It effectively treats the matter as if the lawsuit had never been commenced, but it does not relieve a plaintiff of the duty of complying with the statute of limitations, the time limit within which his or her action must be commenced. A dismissal without prejudice is granted in response to a notice of dismissal, stipulations, or a court order.

Meanwhile, Monica Hammock’s $83,000 civil lawsuit against Stephen Sieber for damage done during her home renovation is still ongoing.

Interestingly, it seems that Sieber has been representing himself in the proceedings as his lawyer is listed as “PRO SE”. Maybe business has been a bit slow lately? Lawyers are pretty expensive.

Sieber wasn’t going to initially sue Angie’s List (as reported in the Washington Post) but ended up doing so for “malicious interference”. He was upset with the “consumer alert” Angie’s List sent out about him and charges that it

“was used solely as a public relations ploy to gain more market exposure and revenue for Defendants, at the expense of the business and reputation of SCS Contracting Group and Stephen C. Sieber personally.”

“I’m standing up for all the service providers who this will not happen to, ever.”

You can see the full details of the lawsuit at www.angiegotsued.com.

Several Angie’s List principals were named as defendants in the suit (including Angie Hicks herself) but they were subsequently dropped. Sieber is still suing Brownstone Publishing however; Brownstone “does business as” Angie’s List. You can monitor the online court records by going to:

https://www.dccourts.gov/pa/

and searching by case number.

  • Sieber v. Mattera – Case # 2007 CA 002063 B
  • Sieber v. Hammock – Case # 2007 CA 001726 B
  • Hammock v. Sieber – Case # 2006 CA 006940 B – pending
  • Sieber v. Brownstone Publishing -Case # 2007 CA 002549 – pending

Broadsheet: Goldilocks and the Three Contractors

If you’ve ever spent time chasing landscape contractors for quotes, you will find the following post amusing.

… today I hit upon the perfect solution for getting the lowest bid for projects outside your home where you don’t need to be present for the estimate.

For her smart homeowner tip, read Goldilocks and the Three Contractors @ Broadsheet.

Humidity Sensing Fan Protects Your Bathroom from Mildew and Mold

The Broan Humidity Sensing Fan is a home improvement innovation (and Hanley Wood Most Valuable Product and AHR Expo 2007 award winner) that can help protect your bathroom from mildew and mold. The fan can be configured to turn on automatically at preset humidity levels, reducing the opportunity for mold and mildew to grow. The fan’s auto shut off feature also helps save power and money. Hands free operation.

Details: Broan Humidity Sensing Fan Model QTXE110S product information.

Transitional Style – the new black or just plain boring?

Transitional style design is an emerging trend gaining momentum in furniture and interior design circles. It is neither traditional nor contemporary but a blending of the two. Definitions for this vary …

Traditional with a twist. A bridge between traditional and modern. Postmodern. Contemporary for people who don’t like the word “contemporary.”
- McClatchy-Tribune article

Transitional style is hot because it

takes the stuffiness out of traditional styles and the coldness out of modern to create an environment that is personally meaningful.
- tidg.ca

Transitional style is clean, serene, minimalist, and inviting. Simple, uncluttered, and sophisticated. Timeless, classical, and tasteful.

Neutral Colors & Contrasting Textures

Colors are neutrals and earth tones – ivory, taupe, beige, and tan. If you don’t like the word beige (it got a bad rep in the last century), try vanilla, pewter, wheat or sandbar. Color is actually very important but subordinate to the neutral. Isolated splashes of color are common: “There may be bright orange, but only in the bookshelf or on a pillow or a piece of sculpture.”

This “absence” of color creates more opportunity to work with texture in terms of fabric choices for accents, etc. Typical transitional fabrics?

  • Chenille
  • Corduroy
  • Mircofiber suede
  • Leather
  • Cotton
  • Twill
  • Denim
  • Raw silk
  • Tweed
  • Woven reeds
  • Woven rope

- interiordesign.lovetoknow.com

Clean Furniture Design

Transitional furniture design combines both straight lines and curves.

The look balances both masculine and feminine attributes for a comfortably contemporary design. The scale of the pieces is ample but not intimidating. A lack of ornamentation and decoration keeps the focus on the simplicity but sophistication of the design.
- HGTV online

Which brings me to …

Comfort

Yes comfort. Transitional style is “inviting”. “Transitional is about lifestyle, not design for its own sake.”

Minimal, Tasteful Accessories

Carefully chosen. “Transitional rooms always have art – good art…” albeit in an understated context.

The new black? Or just plain boring?

See HGTV’s transitional style interior design portfolio for more examples. I like this slideshow better as it leans more to the contemporary. Boring or the new black? You be the judge. My verdict is that it’s smart. The smart homeowners decor choice, one that will both age and show well, especially if you are interested in selling your home in the near future. The trend may be to make a personal statement with your decor but …

Catlin worries these personal statements will date quickly and alienate future buyers. “You have to think how it’s going to translate for the next owners,” Catlin said. “You may love your dark green countertop, but the next owner’s favorite color could be yellow.”

That’s why Catlin advises homeowners who care about resale to choose more neutral colors for floors, countertops and other hard surfaces, using easily changeable paint and accessories to infuse personality.
- The hottest remodeling trends for 2011

Sounds transitional to me …

Are antibacterial household products breeding superbacteria? Or are we?

Concerns about antibacterial household products have been voiced over at Scientific American as the number and variety of antibacterial products continues to expand in the marketplace.

Body soaps, household cleaners, sponges, even mattresses and lip glosses are now packing bacteria-killing ingredients, and scientists question what place, if any, these chemicals have in the daily routines of healthy people.

Unlike these traditional cleaners, antibacterial products leave surface residues, creating conditions that may foster the development of resistant bacteria …

The scientists cite the old adage “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”; the bacteria left behind to reproduce are the ones with the greatest resistance. So you produce “stronger” bacteria that are not only resist the antibacterials but related antibiotics as well.

As bacteria develop a tolerance for these compounds there is potential for also developing a tolerance for certain antibiotics. This phenomenon, called cross-resistance, has already been demonstrated in several laboratory studies using triclosan, one of the most common chemicals found in antibacterial hand cleaners, dishwashing liquids and other wash products.

These products aren’t recommended by medical professionals, other than for people with reduced immune system capacity, nursing homes, etc. And studies indicate that antibacterial soaps don’t prevent disease any better than regular soap.

So why are antibacterial products on the rise? How did we get here? The trend started back in the the 1990’s in the bathroom with antibacterial cleaners. In 2000, respected organizations like the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association warned consumers of the perils of antibacterial products and advised the FDA to “closely monitor and possibly regulate the home use of antimicrobials“.

Of course, there are dissenting views. The Soap and Detergent Association has this to say on the matter:

Q. Do you believe that the expanding use of antibacterial ingredients in consumer hand and body wash products could lead to “superbugs” that are resistant to antibiotic drugs?

A. No. In the more than 30 years that antibacterial wash products have been used by consumers and medical professionals, we have not seen any evidence that their use contributes to antibiotic resistance. If there were a link between antibacterial use and antibiotic resistance, experts believe it would have been seen by now in settings, such as hospitals, where antibacterial products are used extensively to stop the spread of bacteria and antibiotic resistance is closely monitored. In fact, two independent hospital infection control researchers recently presented studies to the FDA showing that triclosan-based wash products controlled and reversed outbreaks of resistant bacteria infections. .

- SDA FAQ: Some FAQs About Bacterial Resistance From Antibacterial Wash Products

So what happened? Did no one listen? Are we all mindless pawns of the Soap and Detergent Association? I think not.

Unfortunately the American consumer is at war with all bacteria. According to the Soap and Detergent Association (too bad its acronym couldn’t spell SUD), more than three-quarters of liquid soap and more than a quarter of bar soaps on supermarket shelves contain triclosan, an antibiotic that kills most bacteria, both good and bad.
- livescience.com’s Bad Medicine

It would be easy to blame the marketing machine of the soap and detergent industry. But 75% of the liquid soap on the market is a lot of soap. If all the manufacturers ditched the antibacterials, we’d still be be buying just as much soap because we’d still need to wash our hands so demand wouldn’t fall. That’s not it.

Controversial as it may be, I believe that consumers like things the way they are. We look at the world and draw our own conclusions. If antimicrobials are good for hospitals, they must be good for us. I don’t need advertising to want an antibacterial product. The proliferation of antibacterial products is an evolution, from consumers selecting antibacterial products over non-antibacterial products when given the choice over time, time and time again. All the industry did was pay attention and give us more of what we wanted.

I believe the proliferation of the antibacterial products is also tied in with the psychology of cleaning – people actually feel better about themselves when they have a clean house. Some people really need that feeling but using good old-fashioned bleach is a pretty harsh way to get it!

Finally, antibacterial products are a “security blanket” of sorts, real or imagined. They protect our possessions (wet mattress anyone?), let us be lazy (you can wash those dishes later, much later) and enable our bad habits (you can chew on that pencil without fear now that it’s antibacterial).

I don’t buy a lot of antibacterial products. I’ve studied microbiology and molecular genetics. I’ve studied food hygiene. I’ve swabbed & tested stuff for a living. I should know better. But when it comes to my antibacterial bathroom and kitchen cleaners? To quote Charlton Heston, “from my cold dead hands“.

Probably because I’ve swabbed stuff for a living.

The last word:

In general, however, good, long-term hygiene means using regular soaps rather than new, antibacterial ones, experts say. “The main way to keep from getting sick,” Gustafson says, “is to wash your hands three times a day and don’t touch mucous membranes.”

Not that we’ll listen. Because it’s not just about “getting sick” anymore.

How I got on this subject: Antibacterial Cleaners Do More Harm Than Good on treehugger.com

Sound Proof Drywall: a high performance, low cost soundproofing alternative

Have a home theatre room that needs soundproofing? Want more privacy for (or from) mancave powertool experiments? Have kids with rock’n'roll dreams you can’t wait for them to outgrow? You can have it all and your peace and quiet too. The answer lies in using soundproof drywall where needed in your home.

Traditional soundproofing methods have been labor-intensive, lengthy processes requiring specialized knowledge. Soundproof drywall, such as QuietSolution’s QR-525 product is a significant leap forward in ease of use both for DIYers and home improvement / construction professionals. The benefits …

Ease of Use with Low Cost

QuietSolution soundproof drywall is “score, snap and hang” – no special training, tools or equipment required to install. Accessible for DIYers, an efficiency gain for professionals.

High Performance

A single layer of QuietRock QR-525 offers the same sound protection as 8 layers of standard drywall with a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating of up to 72. QuietRock’s patented technology uses 3 layers of viscoelastic, ceramic and gypsum material but still manages to be “eco friendly” and fire-rated.

An Award Winner …

I’m thinking along the lines of QuietRock QR-525 soundproof drywall – a Hanley Wood Most Valuable Product award winner.

“Each of these products will make a strong impact on the way builders and remodelers do their job,” says Jean Dimeo, Editorial Director, ebuild and BUILDING PRODUCTS. “From improving efficiency to cost-savings, the winning products represent the best new products to enter the housing industry over the previous year.”

With High Profile Press

QuietSolution soundproof drywall has been featured on Holmes on Homes (video snip from QuietSolution website), the CBS Early Show, and HGTV’s I Want That.

Check it out. See complete QuietRock drywall product specs & information on the QR website.

Pier 1 Blue/Green Glassware Recall

pier1-glasses.jpg

Pier 1 has recalled its Blue/Green Dual Glassware line – specifically the tumblers, goblets, and margarita glasses. The danger? The glassware has been found to crack or break unexpectedly, presenting a laceration hazard.
So far Pier 1 has received 21 complaints including 1 actual injury.

This recall follows a May 8, 2007 recall for similar orange/red glassware.

Pier 1 has asked consumers to “stop using the glassware pieces immediately and return them to their nearest Pier 1 Imports retail store for a refund or merchandise credit”.

Here is the entire recall press release. Props: consumeraffairs.com.

Renovation’s Seven Deadly Sins

Deadly to your project that is. Came across an interesting take on the Seven Deadly Sins … at least as they apply to renovation and remodeling. They are:

  • DIY Pride can come before a fall,
  • Contractor Lust,
  • Greed,
  • Gluttony,
  • Anger,
  • Sloth, and
  • Envy.

For the full explanation (and an entertaining read) with insightful professional advice on how to “absolve” yourself of these failings read How to Avoid the “Seven Sins” of Remodeling on the Palisadian Post.

The Metal Roof – an energy efficient alternative to traditional asphalt roofing

Metal roofs absorb 34% less heat than traditional asphalt shingles, according to a 1985 Florida Solar Energy Center study. This can translate into significant energy savings.

Most metal roofs reflect away more of the sun’s heat than do asphalt shingle roofs. This keeps the roofing materials cooler so less heat is radiated down through the ceilings to the living area. Also, the underside of the metal surface has lower emissivity than shingles, so even less heat radiates down to the ceiling below.

The final energy advantage is the metal is relatively thin and has a contour stamped into it to simulate other styles of shingles. This contour creates an air gap between most of the roofing and the roof sheathing below it. With a sloped roof, outdoor air naturally circulates up under the metal roof to keep it cooler.
- kansas.com

A metal roof may cost more initially but pays back in the long run even without the tax credit ( Metal roofs qualify for a $500 energy tax credit – use IRS form 5695).

Other benefits of a metal roof:

  • long life / durability
  • low maintenance
  • fire retardant
  • green benefit: can contain recycled material
  • green benefit: can be installed over existing an existing roof, eliminating the need for your existing roof to go to a landfill

For more info read:

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