Archive for the ‘Electrical’ Category

With the cold winter Holidays here, brings a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents.

christmas-lights

 

You probably remember the movie “Christmas Vacation” Every home inspector and firefighter will tell you not to let your lights, plugs and outlets look like theirs did!

Please be safe

Merry Christmas

 

As you are getting ready to decorate for the holidays:

Remember to check the amperage, use compatibility (indoor or outdoor) and the physical condition of extension cords. Is it frayed, worn and the proper size.

Today’s home inspection had a problem with the wiring for a 3 way switch. Wiring a 3 way light switch so that you can an operate a light or fan from two different locations can be tricky. It is my understanding that  most of the time it’s a wiring concern when found not working. Today, I’m not so sure. They will need to hire an electrician and confirm what is going on. I can say that the light switch installed was the wrong type. A 3 way light switch will not have any writing on the switch. A switch not designed for a 3 way will say “ON”

Below is a diagram of things I will never see during a home inspection, as it is concealed inside the walls and ceilings.

3-way light switch

Sample way to quickly identify a proper 3 way switch

IMGP4014

Yes, more fire safety talk. It seems everywhere I turn lately there is more convincing evidence that most of our current smoke & carbon monoxide detectors are not as safe as we would like to think. I’m talking about Ionization type. A few quick Google searches and a newer type called “Photoelectric” will keep popping up.

Both types can and do alert us, but there are some big differences. Below are some samples of what I have come to learn recently along with some interesting quotes.

Will combination units be the next best thing?!

“A smoke detector that sounds approximately nineteen minutes after smoke reached its sensing chamber is like an airbag that does not deploy until nineteen minutes after
a car accident.”

- Judge David E. Schoenthaler, Mercer v. Pitway/BRK Brands (First Alert)

Among the objectives of a smoke characterization study conducted by UL in 2007 were to develop recommendations to UL 217 and allow for the development of new smoke-sensing technologies. As a result of UL’s project, the following was identified for future consideration: “Requiring the use of combination ionization and photoelectric alarms for residential use in order to maximize responsiveness to a broad range of fires.”

The reason for this recommendation was that “Some of the evaluated flaming and non-flaming test scenarios triggered one but not both photo and ion alarms within the alarm response time criteria specified in UL 217.”

Ionization alarms are notorious for nuisance tripping. They frequently go off when you cook, burn toast, shower, etc. When alarms nuisance trip, people become frustrated and intentionally disable them. Most of us, including myself have removed a battery or pulled a unit off the wall intending to “fix it tomorrow”

In summary…I am heading to my local Big Box store to look at some combination units, I think you should do the same

Current building guidelines require no more than 6 main service disconnects in a main panel.

During this home inspection, there were a total of 8 found. This is not to mention other problems found inside the panel. In order to correct this deficiency , they will need to install a sub panel next to the main which will cost several hundred dollars. This is likely the reason they did not add the panel in the first place.

Some things I can write-up on an inspection before I even get to the property. Among those items is the electrical wire for the water heaters. It is seldom installed in a conduit for protection. Many of these heater locations are in the garage and laundry rooms where all kinds of clothing, tools and miscellaneous items are hanging off from this exposed wire.

This picture is one from today on a brand new home.

So, if your wire at the water heater or elsewhere is exposed to human peril, please put it into a conduit for your protection.