The Wonders of Whole House Fans

Whole House Fans:

Are you looking for a way to keep your house cool in the summer without using too much electricity? You might want to look into whole house fans as I have one installed in my house and it works pretty well at removing hot air and drawing in cold air from outside, especially at night. Back in the 50’s and 60’s they were much more popular when air conditioning was more expensive but now few people know about them and when I show houses that have them installed my clients can be confused when they see it in the ceiling.


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Whole house fans are installed in the ceiling of your house and draw air from all the rooms once you open the windows. The air is moved into the attic and exits the house from vents. This creates an area of low pressure within your home so that outside air will enter from the windows to cool your house. This provides cooling and ventilation at a fraction of the cost of air conditioning and removes chemicals and pollutants from cooking and cleaning.  If you have an older fireplace you may have noticed a similar effect when you use it in the winter. The hot fire sends smoke and air up your chimney and cold air is pulled in through poorly sealed doors and windows making your house colder instead of warmer.

There are some drawbacks however due to the way the whole house fan works. For starters you need to have a professional install it in the ceiling, it is going to need wiring and possibly new attic vents to let the air escape. There will also need to be insulation and seals for when winter comes because you won’t be using it then. In addition the movement of air inside the house with out proper ventilation can lead to the build up of toxic gases from your furnace in living areas. The operation of the fan can be noisy if not installed properly or running at too high a speed, some fans have different speed settings to alleviate this problem. Lastly the fan only works well if the air outside is cooler than the air inside so it is more effective in the early morning and night than during the afternoon.

Whole house fans are great overall but you probably will need to pair it up with a regular AC for those really hot Jersey days

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Rio 2016: A Disaster waiting to Happen?


Sewage plumes in Guanabara Bay. Source: Moscatelli/Greeneye


A Disgusting Disaster in Motion?

Despite having around 7 years to prepare for the Olympics starting in a few hours Rio De Janeiro is not looking good. Thanks to corruption, crime and the Zika virus it seems that Rio 2016 is headed for disaster. It may sound like panic mongering such as when Sochi 2014 was expected to have major issues, but this time the problems have continued instead of being stamped out. While you have probably seen snippets of many ills of Rio on the news lets take some time to look at all of it’s issues laid out.


Crime and Terrorism

Since 2009 thousands have died from various, partially due to an economic downturn in Brazil. Recently the private security forces that were supposed to be guarding venues and VIPs have been replaced by the military. Despite stepping up patrols over 2,000 people were killed between January and April of this year.

There are fears of terrorists attacks occurring during the games. Only a two weeks ago on July 21 the police busted an Islamic Terrorist group planning to carry out attacks during the games. Twelve are currently under arrest. They also had material on them that shows they were trying to instigate lone wolf terrorists to attack the games. As we have seen in Europe and the U.S they tend to be much harder to detect. In addition even before the games around seven terrorist groups are known to already operate in Brazil such as Hamas and Al Qaeda.

Rio is known for having kidnappings for the purpose of ransom and gangs operate on the streets selling drugs. They often get into gun fights with police and the military. Athletes and journalists are spending the Olympics heavily guarded although the Australians have already been robbed during  a fire and a robber was shot dead during an altercation with the Russian contingent. In addition an Australian Paralympic was mugged earlier on. Finally body parts washed on July 30 right next to where the volleyball events are slated to be held.


A man on polluted water. Source: Pieter van den Hoogenband

Corruption and Pollution

The next major issue facing Rio 2016 is the effects of pollution and corruption on the infrastructure intended for the games. The above picture shows a selfie taken in Guanabara Bay where the sailing events will occur. The Brazillian government had pledged to massively build up water treatment infrastructure in order to treat the majority of the sewage dumped into the ocean. However they have been unable to meet their goals. The trash above comes from a nearby landfill which is closed but still leaks trash. A few sailors already gotten sick during training and had to take antibiotics. Meanwhile over at Copacabana the situation is worse with raw sewage putting large amounts of fecal bacteria where swimming competitions will be held.

On the shore the Tim Maia bike path collapsed from a wave and poor engineering killing two pedestrians and injuring three others. Meanwhile the Olympic Village is being called unlivable. Toilets don’t work, wiring is exposed and lights are dark. There are reports of sabotage by employees during construction too. Lastly during the fire that caused the Australian team to evacuate fire alarms and sprinklers did not activate which is probably an even bigger problem than robbery.



Source: Sujata Jana/Getty Images


The last issue facing Rio 2016 is the Zika virus which has already caused many athletes to cancel their attendance in fear of contracting it. Zika is not deadly to the adults who contract it but causes major deformities in unborn children. A major cause for concern is the possibility that tourists and athletes returning from Brazil will pass on the Zika virus to their homelands allowing it to spread to places it has not reached yet.

Unlike the other problems this seems to be one that is worrying the World Health Organization as much. A letter written to cancel the Olympics was rejected due to many of the scientists not being versed in mosquito borne diseases. Still, Zika has caused many athletes to drop out of the competition regardless of the danger or lack thereof.

Home Security: Locking Your Doors

Locking Mechanisms for your Home

The earliest locking mechanisms found by archaeologists date all the way back from ancient Assyria. Unlike modern locks these were simple and relatively bulky. When the industrial revolution came around in the 18th century the complexity of locks increased as the supplies to make them and the reasons to keep items secure increased as well.

During the Industrial Revolution the Pin Tumbler lock was invented using a series of small springs and cylinders to prevent the lock from working without the correct key. This type of lock was much smaller than previous locks and is still used today. This is what you now see on many doors both commercial and residential.





When choosing locks for your home choose the best one for your purposes. Interior doors may not need a lock, and while many homes come with them installed the type used is usually ineffective enough that an intruder can easily bypass them with a bit of brute force. Your entrance doors on homes most likely have a deadbolt and a knob lock. While this set up is decent enough many homes also tend to have windows right next to the entrance door allowing thieves to break the window to turn the knobs.

Here are a list of various types of door locks and the purposes behind them. Please note this is not exhaustive of all lock types.



Padlocks are portable locks not usually used for homes but for sheds, fences, shop shutters, lockers and luggage backs. Some use keys while others use combinations. They are relatively easy to break and can be cut with a saw if not case hardened. You are probably not going to use these for your home but for garden sheds. Remember to take a good brand, cheaply produced locks can be broken into by removing the locking mechanism with a screwdriver.

Knob Locks:


These common locks are the ones you most likely already have on all of your bedroom doors and front door. One side is usually a keyhole while the other is a knob. While easy to use it is relatively weak against brute force. A hammer is all it takes for someone to smash off the knob and then remove the lock. In addition the actual mechanism is usually vulnerable to being picked. The main use of these locks is to provide privacy in your home.

Lever Handle Lock:


The lever handle lock is basically the commercial equivalent to the Knob Lock. They are easy to open for handicapped people and are common in office buildings and sometimes apartments. Depending on the model the lock can be forced by with a torque attack thanks to the long handle.



Usually found on entrance doors the deadbolt’s main weakness is that the inside side usually has an easily turned knob to disengage the lock. Most doors have small windows (Sidelites) that allow you to take a look at guests outside but can be easily smashed to allow an intruder to turn the deadbolt. You can remedy this by installing a deadbolt that uses a key on both sides. However this can be a major hazard in the event of a fire where someone will need to get a key to unlock the door. Therefore you should leave the key near the door, possibly on a wall or a in a box. Alternatively metal bars or reinforced glass can be used to prevent access to the knob from the outside.

Mortise Locks:



Mortise locks can be found on your storm doors, commercial doors and apartments. They are harder to install but more durable than other locks. They work as both a door knob and a dead bolt.

Euro Profile Cylinders:


These locks can be considered a smaller version of a deadbolt they are found mainly in sliding doors in the United States but in Europe and Asia they are used in homes. Like a deadbolt they come in both single side lock with thumb turn knob and double side lock varieties. Unlike deadbolts they are much more fragile, because the connection between both halves of the lock is thin allowing someone with pliers to snap it it half.

Jimmy Proof Deadbolt:


The last lock on this list is the Jimmy Proof Deadbolt. These do not require as much modification to the door because they go on the surface. These are resistant to being forced from the outside and may have a toggle to prevent lockpicking. These are common in apartments and double doors.