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Tips to Homeowners

June 01, 1986|Armand L. Fontaine

Question: I recently bought a light bulb and read that it produces 1,200 "lumens." What is a lumen?

Answer: Lumens measure the amount of light from a given source. A candle produces about 12 lumens, a 75-watt light bulb about 1,200, and a 40-watt fluorescent tube about 3,000.

An average light bulb lasts about 750 to 2,000 hours, while some of the long-life bulbs will produce over 3,000 hours.

The difference between regular and long-lasting light bulbs is that the tungsten inside the regular bulb burns away more quickly than in the long-lasting bulb. When the filament breaks, the bulb goes out.

If the filament is designed to burn at a high temperature, it will glow brightly, but the tungsten soon vaporizes, and the life of the bulb is cut. However, in a long-lasting light bulb, the filament is designed to burn at a low temperature. It does not glow as brightly, but it will last longer.

I suggest using long-life bulbs only in areas where the bulbs are difficult to replace. Incidentally, long-life bulbs usually consume more energy.

Q: I tried calling several home-improvement contractors listed in the Yellow Pages, and was surprised to find that many had their phones disconnected or were out of business. It seems that this is a short-lived industry!

A: The home-improvement industry has a reputation of contractors who are "here today, gone tomorrow"; and like in any other industry, new contractors will go out of business after a few months or years. However, a recent survey conducted by the National Assn. of Home Builders indicates that more than 80% of remodeling contractors have been in business for more than five years, and nearly a third have been practicing for over 20 years. These are not fly-by-night operators.

While the typical home-improvement contractor is a small operator, almost 50% of those surveyed had an average of five employees, and did over $500,000 a year in business.

My recommendation is, that before you do business with a contractor, make sure that you are not hiring a fly-by-night operator. This person may underbid an established contractor, but do not buy on price alone.

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