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Latest on water heaters, drains, leaks

James and Morris Carey
Special to The Associated Press

ORLANDO, Fla. ” At the 2008 International Builders’ Show here, there was water, water everywhere.

Nearly 2,000 exhibitors showed up to tout their wares to more than 100,000 construction-buying attendees. There were plenty of new and unusual products, but the most remarkable involved water ” its safety, drainage and heating.

Here’s a quick sample:

– WATER LEAKS

What water concern has nothing to do with your water heating bill? A water leak.

The solution’s clear enough ” all you have to do is turn off the main water valve every time you leave your home. (We can just see you now, in suit and tie, walking through the muddy flower bed to do it.)

Now there’s an easier solution. The folks who make a new product called “Flo n Stop” took a simple sprinkler valve and connected it to a remote receiver that allows you to shut the water off and on to your entire home at the simple push of a button.

The unit installs in an afternoon and costs about $200.

– WATER DRAINAGE

Most drainage systems have a grate that is nothing more than a series of alternating, and parallel, bars and slots. Not very imaginative.

Iron Age Designs has finally solved the problem associated with ugly drainage-system covers. Beautiful, artistically styled grates and covers that are incredibly attractive. Plop out the old, ugly standard grate and pop in a beautifully designed replacement. You will be the envy of your neighborhood.

– WATER HEATER

Until now, most solar water heating systems were very expensive and required massive panels on the roof.

A company called Fafco uses two reasonably small roof panels and includes a storage tank that feeds naturally heated water into your hot water system. Fafco claims that on a warm day, their $2,000 solar water heating system will heat water to 130 degrees.

With a small solar water heating system and a hybrid as a backup for cloudy days, you might never have to worry about your water bill again.

– WATER … DECKING?

OK, this one’s not about water. But we couldn’t help but notice that many of the composite decking companies are displaying polymer and PVC (plastic) decking products in addition to their already existing semi-faux decking inventory.

Could it be that they have discovered that their chosen material isn’t the solve-all that they had once thought? Only time will tell.

In the meantime, we’ll stick with real wood.

For more home improvement tips and information, and for a chance to win one of the grand prizes in our $25,000 bathroom remodel sweepstakes, visit our Web site at http://www.onthehouse.com or call our listener hot line at (800) 737-2474, ext. 59.