Tips to Homeowners

Question: What is induction heating?

Answer: Induction heating is electric heating using a magnetic process. The beautiful part of induction heating for stoves is that it is energy-efficient, heating only the vessel it contacts. In other words, after you have fried eggs in a metal pan and removed it, you can place your hand on top of the cook top and feel little or no heat. This makes it safe for young children or those with impaired sight. A few years ago, there were very few manufacturers of this product and the prices were usually very high (sometimes more than $2,000). Now General Electric, Magnawave and Jenn-Air are selling the cooktops at prices well under $1,000. In fact, Jenn-Air has induction cook-top cartridges available which can be plugged into their existing cooktops of the same cartridge type. These sell for well under $400. The major manufacturers tell me that this type of cooking is the wave of the future because of its energy efficiency and safety.

Q: I am an older person and interested in installing safety bars near my bathtub and shower to prevent falls. However, most products that I have seen require extensive installation. Do you have any suggestions?

A: Franklin Brass of Los Angeles manufactures "Decor Bathware," which has a safety bar that can be attached easily to the side of a bathtub. The product sells for about $30 and is very convenient.

Fontaine is president of the Western Regional Master Builders Assn. and a director of the American Building Contractors Assn. He will answer questions concerning home improvements. Phone 213/653-4084 or write him at 6404 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 850, Los Angeles 90048-5510.

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