Ask an Architect
Q I own an office building which has approximately 60 fluorescent light fixtures in a suspended acoustical-tile ceiling. Would it be economically feasible to change bulbs to the new energy-saving type? A reader
I would assume the fixtures contain four 40-watt lamps each plus two ballasts.
To switch to 30-watt lamps and energy-saving ballasts amounts to an approximate saving of 8 watts for each item, or about 48 watts per fixture.
The saving is nice, but the ballasts are expensive, as is the labor to change them. Also, the light (lumen) output of the lamps themselves is about 30 percent less.
I would be wary of changing bulbs in task areas, but I would not hesitate changing them in corridors or areas where minimal visual tasks are being performed. Q The water pipes in my very old home are corroded and must be replaced. The plumber tells me that copper is the most economical replacement, both in labor and material. Our family has always avoided using copper in eating or food-preparation vessels as it is believed to be harmful. I have talked with one person who reports a green tinge in faucet water after installation of copper pipes. What is your recommendation?
Mrs. Rowena Zarr
Several million homes in California are plumbed with copper water pipes, and I have never seen a healthier lot. Because of copper's flexibility and long lengths, there are fewer connections to make, which reduces installation costs. Leaky joints or places where the copper is exposed to air and water is where the green may be seen. This is copper's form of rust or oxidation.
Proper connections must be made where the new copper joins the old galvanized pipe, as the dissimilar metals cause electrolysis which greatly accelerates the deterioration of the pipes. Your plumber is sure to use proper couplings so this doesn't occur.