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Sat, Sept. 21

Question about door selection is not open-and-shut

Question: What should I consider when buying a new front door?-Toby in Prescott Valley

Answer (by Rosie Romero, owner, rosieonthehouse.com): In Arizona, your number one consideration is which way the door faces. Exposure to the sun can turn your home's beautiful first impression into an eyesore that peels and cracks and needs to be refinished every year. Does the front door of your house face due south, or southeast or southwest, where it will take a direct hit from the sun every day? If is does, a wood front door is going to require an awful lot of maintenance. You might want to consider buying a fiberglass door that looks like wood but won't warp, split or swell, and requires far less maintenance.

• Do you have the time, money and patience to refinish your wood door every single year? If not, fiberglass might be a better choice. The sun can still damage the finish on a fiberglass door, but it won't damage the door itself because fiberglass doesn't splinter or expand and contract with the weather.

• What style of door do you like? Rustic looks, with raised panels and rich stains, are popular for stucco homes. But if you live in a contemporary or Craftsman-style home, you might want to consider a smoother or more traditional look to suit your house or neighborhood.

• Would you like the door to include glass inserts or sidelights? You will have dozens of styles to choose from, ranging from stained glass to beveled glass to clear glass.

• Consider your privacy and security. How much to you want to spend? You can buy a front door for as little as $850 installed, but an average front door price is between $1,500 and $2,000. Add transoms and sidelights and the price increases.

• How big was your old front door? Unless you want to pay to have your home's entryway enlarged, select a door that is the same size as the one you are replacing.

• Do you want an energy-efficient door? Steel and fiberglass are better insulators than wood. Still, a front door is such a tiny piece of the home's envelope that even an inefficient door is not going to make much difference in your air conditioning bill. In fact, you lose more cool air through leaks under and around a door than you do through it.

• Remember, hanging a door improperly can cause it to sag, rub and open and close poorly, which could make it wear out sooner.

Question: I have an older home and I am wondering about my GFCI outlets. Do they ever wear out? How can I tell if they are working properly?-Jamie in Prescott Valley

Answer (by Gary Miller, owner, S&M Electric): GFCI outlets are extremely important in a home and they save many lives across the country every year. The National Electrical Code requires that all kitchens, baths, garages and utility rooms have GFCI outlets installed in these rooms and outside outlets be GFCI-protected. These areas of the home are where the majority of tools and/or appliances are being used. If the tool and/or appliance shorts out, the person could receive a deadly electrical shock. GFCI outlets are designed to trip and open the circuit at under 200 milliseconds. If they do not trip in 200 milliseconds, then they are not protecting you from shock. An electrical safety inspection of a home should include the testing of all GFCI outlets. We highly recommend that an electrical safety inspection be performed yearly in order to make sure your electrical systems is working and is safe. Electrocution and fire are real threats with non-working GFCI outlets. From 1992 to 2001, electrical problems accounted for 407,606 fires and 3,406 deaths and more than $7 million dollars in damages to homes. This could have been avoided by regular safety checks and maintenance.

DID YOU KNOW: Houseplants can be effective in removing indoor pollutants from the air. Plants that are good at removing formaldehyde, benzene, trichloroethylene and carbon monoxide are bamboo palm, Chinese evergreen, English ivy, gerbera daisy, Janet Craig dracaena, dracaena marginata and the corn plant.

DID YOU KNOW: If you install an energy-efficient sliding-glass patio door or exterior French door in 2009 or 2010, you could be eligible for a federal tax credit of up to $1,500. Between Jan 1, 2009, and May 31, 2009, any glass door that bears an Energy Star label qualifies for the credit, which allows you to claim 30 percent of the product price, minus installation, up to $1,500. After June 1, 2009, the requirements are stricter, and only glass doors with a U-factor of .30 or less and a solar heat gain coefficient of .30 or less will qualify for the tax credit.

DID YOU KNOW: If you want to replace your windows, keep the R-value top of mind. The R-value is a measure of how much heat can get through the window in an hour. Windows with a high R-value allow less heat to enter your home. The greater the R-value, the greater your energy savings will be. A double-pane window with a high-performance coating can have an R-value of 5.

Yavapai County Contractors Association (YCCA) is a professional association representing licensed, bonded and insured contractors, suppliers, distributors and business entities. YCCA, your local trusted referral source, can be reached at 778-0040 or at www.ycca.org.

Submit your questions to ycca@cableone.net and watch for your answer in the weekly real estate section of the Daily Courier.

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