Q: I heard about a cooktop or range that produces no heat. It isn't a microwave, but it cooks normally. Can you tell me more? A: You are referring...

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Q: I heard about a cooktop or range that produces no heat. It isn’t a microwave, but it cooks normally. Can you tell me more?

A: You are referring to an induction cooktop. A traditional gas or electric burner gets hot and transfers heat to the pan, and the pan in turn transfers heat to the food.

With inductive cooking, an induction coil creates a magnetic field, the resistance in the metal cookware heats the molecules in the pan and the pan heats the food directly.

The remarkable part is that the surface of the stove stays cold! This is an incredible fire- and injury-reducing technology that hasn’t been widely known or appreciated, unfortunately.

Inductive cooking is much faster (in some cases, faster than a microwave), safer and more energy-efficient, plus it results in better heat control, and no food gets burned onto the hot areas of the stove.

As a bonus, the kitchen stays cooler due to lack of wasted heat.

Neat stuff, but expect to pay more than for a traditional range, of course. I have seen prices ranging from $1,500 to $4,500, with units built by many well-known manufacturers.

These stoves have been popular outside the U.S. for many years, so hopefully their prices will come down as they gain acceptance here.

Glass, aluminum, copper and some stainless-steel pans do not work on an inductive range. The pans must be iron or steel and must have a flat bottom. If a magnet sticks to it, it will work.

There are no reported differences in the cooking methods required over a traditional hot-surface range; sautéing, boiling, frying and simmering techniques all remain the same.

For those of you with this type of appliance, I welcome your comments and experiences.

Q: What is better, oil-based or latex paint?

A: For almost all applications, latex provides an equal or superior finish, is easier to work with, passes moisture more easily (less paint bubbles), requires less cleanup and doesn’t get chalky with age.

Latex paints have improved so much in the past few years that oil-based paint is becoming almost unheard of except for specialized finishes.

Q: I have a single-wide seven-foot-tall garage door from the ’80s. It has four sections that fold up as it rolls back inside the garage. I lift it by hand, as it has no motor.

The door doesn’t stay up by itself, so I am forced to put a stick under the edge to keep it upright.

Years ago, it worked just fine. It has springs that attach to the door and to the metal support bars at the rear, which I believe are there to help push it up and hold it in the open position. The springs are slack and sag badly when the door is open.

Do I need new springs, even though they look OK?

A: As long as the coil springs are not “sprung” — with gaps between adjacent roundings when not taut — they likely are fine.

If you do have springs that have been overstressed or have failed, replace them. The more common culprits are the cable and clamp that hold the spring to the frame and door.

These cable clamps routinely come loose, allowing the cable to slide and the spring to sag.

Open the door and use your stick one last time to hold it fully open. Loosen the cable clamps and pull the cable through the “eye” until it tightens fully and puts a very small pressure on the spring. Then tighten the clamp.

These coil springs are not as potentially dangerous as the style that twists a torsion bar at the head of the door, which in my opinion never should be serviced by a homeowner.

Darrell Hay is a local home inspector and manages several rental properties. Readers may send questions to dhay@seattletimes.com or call 206-464-8514. Sorry, no personal replies.