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Sump Pump’s Need Electricity!



Sump pumps are self-activating electrical pumps that protect homes from moisture intrusion. They are usually installed below basement or crawlspace floors to remove rising groundwater and surface runoff before it has a chance to seep into the home. Accumulated water can cause interior damage and encourage the growth of mold, mildew and fungus. Pumps should be maintained and equipped with all necessary components in order to ensure their reliability.

As you can see in the pictures this particular sump pump was not plugged into the electric outlet at the time of the home inspection. When plugged in to test it worked as intended.

Why was the pump not plugged in? We don’t know the answer but a couple of thoughts might be that when this house was built 5 years ago they didn’t plug it in or the home owner who moved out last week unplugged it at some point. There was also an exhaust fan in the crawl space that was unplugged.

Additionally the crawlspace was not insulated as is the case with most homes built recently. These items are surprising considering the fact that the pump, fan and heavy duty vapor barrier that apparently were installed in the crawl space at the time of construction. One can only guess that at the end of construction nobody ever went into the crawl space to make sure the job was completed or not. This is one of the reasons that even new homes should be inspected prior to closing for the buyer.

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Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)


What is a GFCI?

A ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is a device used in electrical wiring to disconnect a circuit when unbalanced current is detected between an energized conductor and a neutral return conductor. Such an imbalance is sometimes caused by current “leaking” through a person who is simultaneously in contact with a ground and an energized part of the circuit, which could result in lethal shock. GFCIs are designed to provide protection in such a situation, unlike standard circuit breakers, which guard against overloads, short circuits and ground faults.

It is estimated that about 300 deaths by electrocution occur every year, so the use of GFCIs has been adopted in new construction, and recommended as an upgrade in older construction, in order to mitigate the possibility of injury or fatality from electric shock.

History

The first high-sensitivity system for detecting current leaking to ground was developed by Henri Rubin in 1955 for use in South African mines. This cold-cathode system had a tripping sensitivity of 250 mA (milliamperes), and was soon followed by an upgraded design that allowed for adjustable trip-sensitivity from 12.5 to 17.5 mA. The extremely rapid tripping after earth leakage-detection caused the circuit to de-energize before electric shock could drive a person’s heart into ventricular fibrillation, which is usually the specific cause of death attributed to electric shock.

Charles Dalziel first developed a transistorized version of the ground-fault circuit interrupter in 1961. Through the 1970s, most GFCIs were of the circuit-breaker type. This version of the GFCI was prone to frequent false trips due to poor alternating-current characteristics of 120-volt insulations. Especially in circuits with long cable runs, current leaking along the conductors’ insulation could be high enough that breakers tended to trip at the slightest imbalance.

Since the early 1980s, ground-fault circuit interrupters have been built into outlet receptacles, and advances in design in both receptacle and breaker types have improved reliability while reducing instances of “false trips,” known as nuisance-tripping.

NEC Requirements for GFCIs

The National Electrical Code (NEC) has included recommendations and requirements for GFCIs in some form since 1968, when it first allowed for GFCIs as a method of protection for underwater swimming pool lights. Throughout the 1970s, GFCI installation requirements were gradually added for 120-volt receptacles in areas prone to possible water contact, including bathrooms, garages, and any receptacles located outdoors.

The 1980s saw additional requirements implemented. During this period, kitchens and basements were added as areas that were required to have GFCIs, as well as boat houses, commercial garages, and indoor pools and spas. New requirements during the ’90s included crawlspaces, wet bars and rooftops. Elevator machine rooms, car tops and pits were also included at this time. In 1996, GFCIs were mandated for all temporary wiring for construction, remodeling, maintenance, repair, demolition and similar activities and, in 1999, the NEC extended GFCI requirements to carnivals, circuses and fairs.

The 2008 NEC contains additional updates relevant to GFCI use, as well as some exceptions for certain areas. The 2008 language is presented here for reference.

2008 NEC on GFCIs

100.1 Definition

100.1 Definitions. Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter. A device intended for the protection of personnel that functions to de-energize a circuit or portion thereof within an established period of time when a current to ground exceeds the values established for a Class A device.

FPN: Class A ground-fault circuit interrupters trip when the current to ground has a value in the range of 4 mA to 6 mA. For further information, see UL 943, standard for Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters.

210.8(A)&(B) Protection for Personnel

210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupter Protection for Personnel.

(A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in (1) through (8) shall have ground-fault circuit-interrupter protection for personnel.

(1) bathrooms;

(2) garages, and also accessory buildings that have a floor located at or below grade level not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and areas of similar use;
Exception No. 1: Receptacles not readily accessible.

Exception No. 2: A single receptacle or a duplex receptacle for two appliances that, in normal use, is not easily moved from one place to another and that is cord-and-plug connected in accordance with 400.7(A)(6), (A)(7), or (A)(8).

Receptacles installed under the exceptions to 210.8(A)(2) shall not be considered as meeting the requirements of 210.52(G)

(3) outdoors;

Exception: Receptacles that are not readily accessible and are supplied by a dedicated branch circuit for electric snow melting or deicing equipment shall be permitted to be installed in accordance with the applicable provisions of Article 426.

(4) crawlspaces at or below grade level;

(5) unfinished basements. For the purposes of this section, unfinished basements are defined as portions or areas of the basement not intended as habitable rooms and limited to storage areas, work areas, and the like;

Exception No. 1: Receptacles that are not readily accessible.

Exception No. 2: A single receptacle or a duplex receptacle for two appliances that, in normal use, is not easily moved from one place to another and that is cord-and-plug connected in accordance with 400.7(A)(6), (A)(7), or (A)(8).

Exception No. 3: A receptacle supplying only a permanently installed fire alarm or burglar alarm system shall not be required to have ground-fault circuit interrupter protection.

Receptacles installed under the exceptions to 210.8(A)(2) shall not be considered as meeting the requirements of 210.52(G)

(6) kitchens, where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces;

(7) wet bar sinks, where the receptacles are installed to serve the countertop surfaces and are located within 6 feet (1.8 m) of the outside edge of the wet bar sink;

(8) boathouses;

(B) Other Than Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles Installed in the locations specified in (1), (2), and (3) shall have ground-fault circuit interrupter protection for personnel:

(1) bathrooms;

(2) rooftops;

Exception: Receptacles that are not readily accessible and are supplied by a dedicated branch circuit for electric snow-melting or de-icing equipment shall be permitted to be installed in accordance with the applicable provisions of Article 426.

(3) kitchens.

Testing Receptacle-Type GFCIs

Receptacle-type GFCIs are currently designed to allow for safe and easy testing that can be performed without any professional or technical knowledge of electricity. GFCIs should be tested right after installation to make sure they are working properly and protecting the circuit. They should also be tested once a month to make sure they are working properly and are providing protection from fatal shock.

To test the receptacle GFCI, first plug a nightlight or lamp into the outlet. The light should be on. Then press the “TEST” button on the GFCI. The “RESET” button should pop out, and the light should turn off.

If the “RESET” button pops out but the light does not turn off, the GFCI has been improperly wired. Contact an electrician to correct the wiring errors.

If the “RESET” button does not pop out, the GFCI is defective and should be replaced.

If the GFCI is functioning properly and the lamp turns off, press the “RESET” button to restore power to the outlet.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog. If you have any questions let me know. Click here for a link to my website.

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Home Maintenance for the Seasons


http://www.allpointshomeinspections.org
allpointshomeinspect@yahoo.com
720-670-0366
Inquire about our Home Maintenance Inspections

Checklists for the
Seasons

These are checklists that you can use and incorporate into your routine home maintenance plan for your house. They are broken up into seasons.

Annually:
Hire a home inspector to perform a home maintenance inspection as part of your routine home maintenance plan.

Monthly:
Change the air filter in your furnace.

In the Spring:
Check for damage to your roof
Check all the fascia and trim for deterioration
Have a professional air conditioning contractor inspect and maintain your system as recommended by the manufacturer
Check your water heater
Replace all extension cords that have become brittle, worn or damaged
Check your fire extinguishers
Clean the kitchen exhaust hood and air filter
Review your fire escape plan with your family
Repair all cracked, broken or uneven driveways and walks to help provide a level walking surface
Check the shutoff valve at each plumbing fixture to make sure they function
Clean clothes dryer exhaust duct, damper, and space under the dryer
Inspect and clean dust from the covers of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms & change the batteries

In the Summer:
Check kids playing equipment
Check your wood deck or concrete patio for deterioration
Check the nightlights at the top and bottom of all stairs
Check exterior siding
Check all window and door locks
Check your home for water leaks
Check the water hoses on the clothes washer, refrigerator icemaker and dishwasher for cracks and bubbles

In the Fall:
Check your home for water leaks
Have a heating professional check your heating system every year
Protect your home from frozen pipes
Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel is gone
Test your emergency generator
Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the flues and check your fireplace damper
Remove bird nests from chimney flues and outdoor electrical fixtures
Inspect and clean dust from the covers of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms
Make sure the caulking around doors and windows is adequate to reduce heat/cooling loss
Make sure that the caulking around your bathroom fixtures is adequate to prevent water from seeping into the sub-flooring
Inspect and clean dust from the covers of your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms & change the batteries

In the Winter:
Clean the gutters and downspouts
Confirm firewood at least 20 feet away from your home
Remove screens from windows and install storm windows
Familiarize responsible family members with the gas main valve and other
appliance valves
Clean the clothes dryer exhaust duct, damper and space under the dryer
Make sure all electrical holiday decorations have tight connections
Clean the kitchen exhaust hood and air filter
Check the water hoses on the clothes washer, refrigerator icemaker and
dishwasher for cracks and bubbles
Check your water heater
Test all AFCI and GFCI devices
Adapted from the home maintenance book by Ben Gromicko “Now that you’ve had a
home inspection.” http://www.nachi.org/home-maintenance-book.htm
Keep in mind that all homes are different. Your home may have special needs that aren’t listed here.

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Electrical Safety


Electricity is an essential part of our lives. However, it has the potential to cause great harm. Electrical systems will function almost indefinitely, if properly installed and not overloaded or physically abused. Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of 485 Americans each year and injure 2,305 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures and appliance defects, but many more are caused by the misuse and poor maintenance of electrical appliances, incorrectly installed wiring, and overloaded circuits and extension cords.

Some safety tips to remember:

•Never use anything but the proper fuse to protect a circuit.
•Find and correct overloaded circuits.
•Never place extension cords under rugs.
•Outlets near water should be GFCI-type outlets.
•Don’t allow trees near power lines to be climbed.
•Keep ladders, kites, equipment and anything else away from overhead power lines.

Electrical Panels

Electricity enters the home through a control panel and a main switch where one can shut off all the power in an emergency. These panels are usually located in the basement. Control panels use either fuses or circuit breakers. Install the correct fuses for the panel. Never use a higher-numbered fuse or a metallic item, such as a penny. If fuses are used and there is a stoppage in power, look for the broken metal strip in the top of a blown fuse. Replace the fuse with a new one marked with the correct amperage. Reset circuit breakers from “off” to “on.” Be sure to investigate why the fuse or circuit blew. Possible causes include frayed wires, overloaded outlets, or defective appliances. Never overload a circuit with high-wattage appliances. Check the wattage on appliance labels. If there is frayed insulation or a broken wire, a dangerous short circuit may result and cause a fire. If power stoppages continue or if a frayed or broken wire is found, contact an electrician.

Outlets and Extension Cords

Make sure all electrical receptacles or outlets are three-hole, grounded outlets. If there is water in the area, there should be a GFCI or ground-fault circuit interrupter outlet. All outdoor outlets should be GFCIs. There should be ample electrical capacity to run equipment without tripping circuit breakers or blowing fuses. Minimize extension cord use. Never place them under rugs. Use extension cords sparingly and check them periodically. Use the proper electrical cord for the job, and put safety plugs in unused outlets.

Electrical Appliances

Appliances need to be treated with respect and care. They need room to breathe. Avoid enclosing them in a cabinet without proper openings, and do not store papers around them. Level appliances so they do not tip. Washers and dryers should be checked often. Their movement can put undue stress on electrical connections. If any appliance or device gives off a tingling shock, turn it off, unplug it, and have a qualified person correct the problem. Shocks can be fatal. Never insert metal objects into appliances without unplugging them. Check appliances periodically to spot worn or cracked insulation, loose terminals, corroded wires, defective parts and any other components that might not work correctly. Replace these appliances or have them repaired by a person qualified to do so.

Electrical Heating Equipment

Portable electrical heating equipment may be used in the home as a supplement to the home heating system. Caution must be taken when using these heating supplements. Keep them away from combustibles, and make sure they cannot be tipped over. Keep electrical heating equipment in good working condition. Do not use them in bathrooms because of the risk of contact with water and electrocution. Many people use electric blankets in their homes. They will work well if they are kept in good condition. Look for cracks and breaks in the wiring, plugs and connectors. Look for charred spots on both sides. Many things can cause electric blankets to overheat. They include other bedding placed on top of them, pets sleeping on top of them, and putting things on top of the blanket when it is in use. Folding the blankets can also bend the coils and cause overheating.

Children

Electricity is important to the workings of the home, but can be dangerous, especially to children. Electrical safety needs to be taught to children early on. Safety plugs should be inserted in unused outlets when toddlers are in the home. Make sure all outlets in the home have face plates. Teach children not to put things into electrical outlets and not to chew on electrical cords. Keep electrical wiring boxes locked. Do not allow children to come in contact with power lines outside. Never allow them to climb trees near power lines, utility poles or high tension towers.

Electricity and Water

A body can act like a lightning rod and carry the current to the ground. People are good conductors of electricity, particularly when standing in water or on a damp floor. Never use any electrical appliance in the tub or shower. Never touch an electric cord or appliance with wet hands. Do not use electrical appliances in damp areas or while standing on damp floors. In areas where water is present, use outlets with GFCIs. Shocks can be fatal.

Animal Hazards

Mice and other rodents can chew on electrical wires and damage them. If rodents are suspected or known to be in the home, be aware of the damage they may cause, and take measures to get rid of them.

Outside Hazards

There are several electrical hazards outside the home. Be aware of overhead and underground power lines. People have been electrocuted when an object they are moving has come in contact with the overhead power lines. Keep ladders, antennae, kites and poles away from power lines leading to the house and other buildings. Do not plant trees, shrubs or bushes under power lines or near underground power lines. Never build a swimming pool or other structure under the power line leading to your house. Before digging, learn the location of underground power lines.

Do not climb power poles or transmission towers. Never let anyone shoot or throw stones at insulators. If you have an animal trapped in a tree or on the roof near electric lines, phone your utility company. Do not take a chance of electrocuting yourself. Be aware of weather conditions when installing and working with electrical appliances. Never use electrical power tools or appliances with rain overhead or water underfoot. Use only outdoor lights, fixtures and extension cords. Plug into outlets with a GFCI. Downed power lines are extremely dangerous. If you see a downed power line, call the electric company, and warn others to stay away. If a power line hits your car while you are in it, stay inside unless the car catches fire. If the car catches fire, jump clear without touching metal and the ground at the same time.

MORE SAFETY PRECAUTIONS :
•Routinely check your electrical appliances and wiring.
•Hire an InterNACHI inspector. InterNACHI inspectors must pass rigorous safety training and are knowledgeable in the ways to reduce the likelihood of electrocution.
•Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old and damaged appliance cords immediately.
•Use electrical extension cords wisely and don’t overload them.
•Keep electrical appliances away from wet floors and counters; pay special care to electrical appliances in the bathroom and kitchen.
•Don’t allow children to play with or around electrical appliances, such as space heaters, irons and hair dryers.
•Keep clothes, curtains and other potentially combustible items at least 3 feet from all heaters.
•If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
•Never overload extension cords or wall sockets. Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch, as well as lights that flicker. Use safety closures to childproof electrical outlets.
•Check your electrical tools regularly for signs of wear. If the cords are frayed or cracked, replace them. Replace any tool if it causes even small electrical shocks, overheats, shorts out or gives off smoke or sparks.
In summary, household electrocution can be prevented by following the tips offered in this guide and by hiring an InterNACHI inspector.

REMEMBER, ELECTRICITY CAN KILL. HIRE A LICENSED AND INSURED ELECTRICAL CONTRACTOR.

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Fire Safety for the Home


by Nick Gromicko and Kate Tarasenko

The U.S. Fire Administration reports that more than 403,000 home fires occurred in the U.S. in 2008, causing 2,780 deaths and more than 13,500 injuries. Some fires are caused by issues related to the structure, such as lightning strikes, faulty wiring, furnace malfunctions, and other electrical and heating system-related mishaps.

But most home fires are preventable. According to an April 2010 report by the National Fire Protection Association, adults over the age of 75 are almost three times more likely to die in a home fire than the rest of the general public. The NFPA’s fire prevention program promotes the following eight tips that elderly people – and people of all ages – can use.

1. Plan and practice your escape from fire.

We’ve heard this advice before, but you can’t be prepared to act in an emergency if you don’t have a plan and everybody knows what that plan is. Panic and fear can spread as quickly as a fire, so map out an escape route and a meeting place outdoors, and involve even the youngest family members so that everyone can work as a unit to make a safe escape.

If you live in a condo or apartment building, make sure you read the signs posted on your floor advising you of the locations of stairways and other exits, as well as alarm pull stations and fire extinguishers.

2. Plan your escape around your abilities.
Keeping a phone by your bedside will allow you to call 911 quickly, especially if the exits of your home are blocked by smoke or flames. Keep a pair of shoes near your bed, too. If your home or building has a fire escape, take some time to practice operating it and climbing it.

3. Smoke alarms save lives.
If you don’t already have permanently installed smoke alarms hard-wired into your electrical system and located outside each bedroom and on each floor, purchase units and place them in those locations. Install them using adhesive or screws, but be careful not to touch your screwdriver to any internal wiring, which can cause an electrostatic discharge and disable them.

Also, install carbon monoxide detectors, which can protect family members from lethal poisoning even before a fire starts.

4. Give space heaters space.
Whether saving on utility bills by using the furnace infrequently, or when using these portable units for spot heat, make sure you give them at least 3 feet of clearance. Be sure to turn off and unplug them when you leave or go to bed. Electrical appliances draw current even when they’re turned off, and a faulty one can cause a fire that can spread through the wires in the walls at a deadly pace.

5. If you smoke, smoke outside.
Not only will this keep your family members healthier and your home smelling fresher, it will minimize the chance that an errant ember from your cigarette will drop and smolder unnoticed until it causes damage.

6. Be kitchen-wise. This means monitoring what you have on the stove and keeping track of what’s baking in the oven. Don’t cook if you’re tired or taking medication that clouds your judgment or makes you drowsy. Being kitchen-wise also means wearing clothing that will not easily catch on the handles of pots and pans, or graze open flames or heating elements.

It also means knowing how to put out a grease fire; water will make it spread, but salt or baking soda will extinguish it quickly, as will covering the pot or pan with a lid and turning off the stove. Always use your cooktop’s vent fan while cooking.

Keep a small, all-purpose fire extinguisher in a handy place, such as under the sink. These 3-pound lifesavers are rated “ABC” for their fire-suppressing contents: “A” puts out ignited trash, wood and paper; “B” acts on grease and other flammable liquids; and “C” deals with small electrical fires. Read the instructions on these inexpensive devices when you bring them home from the store so that you can act quickly, if the time comes. If your fire extinguisher is somewhat old because you’ve yet to use it, turning the canister upside-down and tapping the bottom will help agitate the contents and prevent them from caking, and possibly clogging the nozzle at the time of use. It’s also a good idea to stow an extra fire extinguisher near the bedrooms. If an emergency arises and you find yourself trapped by an uncooperative window, you can use the canister to smash through it.

7. Stop, drop and roll.
Fight the urge to panic and run if your clothes catch fire because this will only accelerate its spread, since fire needs oxygen to sustain and grow. Tamping out the fire by rolling is effective, especially since your clothes may be on fire on your back or lower body where you may not be immediately aware of it. If ground space is limited, cover yourself with a blanket to tamp out any flames, and douse yourself with water as soon as you can.

Additionally, always stay close to the floor during a fire; heat and smoke rise, and breathable air will normally be found at the floor-level, giving you a greater chance of escape before being overcome by smoke and toxic fumes.

Also, before exiting a closed room, be sure to test the doorknob for heat before opening the door. A very hot doorknob indicates that fire could be lurking just outside; opening the door will feed the fire an added surge of oxygen, potentially causing an explosive backdraft that can be fatal.

8. Know your local emergency number.
People of all ages need to know their emergency number (usually, it’s 911). Posting it near the phone and putting it on speed-dial will save precious moments when the ability to think clearly may be compromised.

More Tips

•Make sure your electrical system is updated, and that you have appropriate AFCI and GFCI receptacles. Have your system inspected by an InterNACHI inspector or a licensed electrician to make sure your electrical needs are not taxing your electrical system.

•Make sure you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors installed. Test them to make sure they’re working properly, and change their batteries at least annually.

•Check to see that your house number is clearly visible from the street, and unobstructed by any tree branches or structural overhangs. If first-responders are called to your home to put out a fire, make sure they can find you.

•Be aware of lit candles. Never leave them unattended, and always blow them out when leaving home or going to bed. This is especially important during the holidays when candles are used as holiday decorations. Also, keep them out of the way of drapes and plants, and out of reach of children and especially pets, whose tails can accidentally knock over a candle or come into contact with its flame.

•Never use barbecue grills indoors, either for cooking or as a heat source. The carbon monoxide they emit cannot be adequately vented, and their flammable materials pose safety hazards. Also, do not use the oven to heat the indoors. Space heaters are safer and more energy-efficient. Ask your InterNACHI home inspector to perform an energy audit to find heat leaks, and to suggest low-cost ways to keep your home warm and comfortable during cold weather.

•Consider getting rid of your electric blanket. The fire hazards associated with them make the prospect of trading them in for a thick comforter or multiple blankets much less worrisome. When their embedded cords become bent, the internal wiring can break, causing them to short out and start an electrical fire.

•Be extra-vigilant when using hot pads, hot plates, Bunsen burners and portable cooktops. They can overheat and burn the surface they’re sitting on, or burn through a cup or pot sitting on top, which can lead to smoke and fire. Never leave these unattended, and always unplug (or extinguish) them when not in use.

•Unplug portable electronic devices and other small appliances when not in use. Coffeemakers, blow dryers and other devices we use daily still draw current when they’re plugged in, even if they’re turned off. A faulty device can cause an electrical fire that can be devastating. One family in Boulder, Colo., returned home one day to discover their house burned to the ground; the fire marshal discovered that the cause was a switched-off curling iron that was left plugged into the wall’s outlet. Get into the habit of unplugging, just to be safe.

•Use extension cords sparingly, and always unplug them when not in use. Some electrical devices work best when plugged directly into the wall’s receptacle or outlet, especially if they have a ground wire (which you should never cut off). Devices plugged into extension cords can easily overheat (themselves or the extension cords), damaging wires within walls and weakening your electrical system, potentially causing an electrical fire. Always check for the UL-listed label on extension cords. Remember that they also pose a tripping hazard, which is another reason to minimize their use.

•Clean your clothes dryer’s lint trap after each use. Your dryer should vent directly to the outdoors. Check to make sure that there are no obstructions in the vent hose, such as birds’ nests, foliage or other debris. The vent should have a damper to keep wildlife and debris out, but it should not have a screen, which can trap combustibles, allowing them to accumulate, heat up, and possibly catch fire.

•If you have a fireplace, remember to have it professionally inspected and cleaned periodically by a chimney sweep. Creosote buildup can cause a fire that may unexpectedly back into the living space. Make sure your damper is working properly, and that the chimney lining is in good condition. The next time your InterNACHI inspector inspects your roof, s/he can check for adequate flashing around the chimney, as well as its structural integrity. Make sure the fire is completely out before you leave the home. Keep all kindling and combustibles a safe distance away from the mouth of the fireplace. Make use of a screen at the hearth to prevent embers from escaping. And avoid burning green wood, which doesn’t burn as evenly or safely as dry wood.
Smoke Alarms

All new residential construction requires the installation of smoke alarms, usually on each floor of the home, as well as outside each sleeping area. Many newer smoke alarms can also detect carbon monoxide. This silent and odorless killer is one of the primary causes of accidental death because family members can be fatally poisoned while sleeping.
Smoke alarms come in two types. Photoelectric alarms can sense smoky and smoldering fires. Ionization alarms are quicker at detecting flames and fast-moving fire. Dual-sensor smoke alarms combine both these features, and are recommended by the USFA because it’s impossible to predict the type of fire that may erupt in a home. There are also smoke alarms that vibrate and/or flash strobe lights to alert home dwellers who are vision-impaired or hard of hearing.

The leading U.S. manufacturer of residential smoke alarms, as well as home fire extinguishers, is Kidde. Their dual-sensor smoke alarms were the subject of a voluntary recall by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in the summer of 2009 because of a malfunction caused by an electrostatic discharge created during their installation, rendering them inoperable. Make sure that you install any portable smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors safely, and test them after installation. You can also ask your local fire department to do this for you.

Many smoke alarms are hard-wired into the home’s electrical system, but may still have batteries for backup in the event of a power outage. They also typically have a test button. Make sure you test them once a month, and replace the batteries once a year. If you hear a chirping noise, this is a signal that the batteries are weak and need replacing.

Some smoke alarms have “nuisance” buttons. If you burn something that you’re cooking and accidentally set off the alarm, you can press the nuisance button to turn it off. Remember not to actually disable the alarm; you may forget to reset it later. Simply clear the room of smoke instead.

Rebates and Discounts

Under most standard homeowners and even renters insurance policies today, having smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers in the home will qualify policyholders for rebates and discounts on their premiums. Some newer homes now have sprinkler systems, and various municipalities around the U.S. are mandating their installation, depending on the square footage of the home.

In summary, installing dual-sensor smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as taking some common-sense precautions and performing regular household maintenance, will help keep your family safe from the destructive and potentially lethal effects of a house fire.

If you have any questions let me know.
David Hays
Certified Home Inspector
All Points Home Inspections LLC
http://www.allpointshomeinspections.org

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CARBON MONOXIDE DETECTORS: CORRECT PLACEMENT


There has been much debate on where to mount your Carbon Monoxide detector, well hopefully this article will help.

Where to Mount a Carbon Monoxide Detector?
So you just bought a carbon monoxide detector to put in your home. You feel a sense of security wrap around your body as your plug it into the electrical socket near the ground. Stop right there though. You just made a crucial mistake that many other people make when choosing the location to mount their carbon monoxide detector.

It is known that some companies recommend mounting their units near the floor, but in general it is a potential risk due to the chemical properties of carbon monoxide. The key point that we want to focus on is the specific gravity of CO which is 0.966. Compared to the air we breathe (1.0), carbon monoxide is slightly lighter which means it will rise. Having a carbon monoxide detector mounted near the ground means there is the possibility that it may not detect CO when it is present in your home. Consequently, you will want to mount carbon monoxide detectors on the ceiling the same way you would mount a smoke alarm.

Additionally, here are some other guidelines you should follow when choosing a mounting location. You will want to keep CO detectors out of bathrooms or any other humid areas. You will also want to place them at least 15 feet away from heating or cooking appliances. Placing a CO dectector near a furnace may also set off false alarms since these devices are known to emit a small amount of carbon monoxide upon start-up.

Sources

“The Answer Man”.Belleville News-Democrat. 12 Feb 2007, Final Ed.: C8

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SELLERS PRE-LISTING INSPECTIONS


ARE YOUR LISTINGS NOT SELLING?
Have you considered a Pre-Listing Inspection.
Eventually, the buyers are going to conduct an inspection. You may as well know what they are going to find by getting there first. Having an inspection performed ahead of time helps in many other ways:
*It allows you to see your home through the eyes of a critical third party.
*It helps you to price your home realistically.
*It permits you to make repairs ahead of time so that …
*Defects won’t become negotiating stumbling blocks later.
*There is no delay in obtaining the Use and Occupancy Permit.
*You have the time to get reasonably priced contractors or make the repairs yourself, if qualified.
*It may encourage the buyer to waive the inspection contingency.
*It may alert you to items of immediate concern, such as radon gas or active termite infestation.
*It may relieve prospects’ concerns and suspicions.
*It reduces your liability by adding professional supporting documentation to your disclosure statement.
*It alerts you to immediate safety issues before agents and visitors tour your home.

What I will include with the Pre-Listing inspection:
*Standard Home Inspection
*Yard Sign to let prospective buyers know the home has been inspected.
*After the inspection you have the choice to make any needed repairs. I will come back and certify that the repairs were made at no additional fee.
*One copy of the report in our custom binder and up to 25 additional copies (w/o binder).

Never hire an inspector who is not a member of InterNACHI, which provides the most trusted and rigorous training for inspectors in the industry.

Copies of the inspection report, along with receipts for any repairs, should be made available to potential buyers.

For more information visit: www.allpointshome inspctions.org or www.MoveInCertified.com
or CALL ME @ 720-670-0366

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Central Air Conditioning System Inspection


AC condensing unit

Central Air Conditioning System Inspection
by Nick Gromicko and Rob London (InterNACHI.ORG)

A building’s central air conditioning system must be periodically inspected and maintained in order to function properly. While an annual inspection performed by a trained professional is recommended, homeowners can do a lot of the work themselves by following the tips offered in this guide.

Clean the Exterior Condenser Unit and Components

The exterior condenser unit is the large box located on the side of the building that is designed to push heat from the inside of the building to the outdoors. Inside of the box are coils of pipe that are surrounded by thousands of thin metal “fins” that allow the coils more surface area to exchange heat. Follow these tips when cleaning the exterior condenser unit and its inner components — after turning off power to the unit!Remove any leaves, spider webs and other debris from the unit’s exterior. Trim foliage back several feet from the unit to ensure proper air flow.
Remove the cover grille to clean any debris from the unit’s interior. A garden hose can be helpful for this task.
Straighten any bent fins with a tool called a fin comb.
Add lubricating oil to the motor. Check your owner’s manual for specific instructions.
Clean the evaporator coil and condenser coil at least once a year. When they collect dirt, they may not function properly.
Inspect the Condensate Drain Line

Condensate drain lines collect condensed water and drain it away from the unit. They are located on the side of the inside fan unit. Sometimes there are two drain lines—a primary drain line that’s built into the unit, and a secondary drain line that can drain if the first line becomes blocked. Homeowners can inspect the drain line by using the following tips, which take very little time and require no specialized tools:
Inspect the drain line for obstructions, such as algae and debris. If the line becomes blocked, water will back up into the drain pan and overflow, potentially causing a safety hazard or water damage to your home.
Make sure the hoses are secured and fit properly.

Clean the Air Filter

Air filters remove pollen, dust and other particles that would otherwise circulate indoors. Most filters are typically rectangular in shape and about 20 inches by 16 inches, and about 1 inch thick. They slide into the main ductwork near the inside fan unit. The filter should be periodically washed or replaced, depending on the manufacturer’s instructions. A dirty air filter will not only degrade indoor air quality, but it will also strain the motor to work harder to move air through it, increasing energy costs and reducing energy efficiency. The filter should be replaced monthly during heavy use during the cooling seasons. You may need to change the filter more often if the air conditioner is in constant use, if building occupants have respiratory problems,if you have pets with fur, or if dusty conditions are present.

Cover the Exterior Unit

When the cooling season is over, you should cover the exterior condenser unit in preparation for winter. If it isn’t being used, why expose it to the elements? This measure will prevent ice, leaves and dirt from entering the unit, which can harm components and require additional maintenance in the spring. A cover can be purchased, or you can make one yourself by taping together plastic trash bags. Be sure to turn the unit off before covering it.

Close the Air Distribution Registers

Air distribution registers are duct openings in ceilings, walls and floors where cold air enters the room. They should be closed after the cooling season ends in order to keep warm air from back-flowing out of the room during the warming season. Pests and dust will also be unable to enter the ducts during the winter if the registers are closed. These vents typically can be opened or closed with an adjacent lever or wheel. Remember to open the registers in the spring before the cooling season starts. Also, make sure they are not blocked by drapes, carpeting or furniture.

In addition, homeowners should practice the following strategies in order to keep their central air conditioning systems running properly:
Have the air conditioning system inspected by a professional each year before the start of the cooling season.
Reduce stress on the air conditioning system by enhancing your home’s energy efficiency. Switch from incandescent lights to compact fluorescents, for instance, which produce less heat.

In summary, any homeowner can perform periodic inspections and maintenance to their home’s central air conditioning system.

If you have any questions or would like to get a recommendation on a qualified, trusted HVAC contractor you can send me an e-mail @ allpointshomeinspect@yahoo.com or call me @ 720-670-0366.
Thank you,
David Hays

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NEW EPA LEAD LAW


Here is a brief rundown on the new lead paint law.

This law went into effect April 22, 2010

What property is affected?
Any residential dwelling, or day care facility built prior to 1978

What is the fine?
$37,500 per day, per incident.

Who must comply?
Anyone disturbing more than 6 sqft of interior paint, or 20 sqft of exterior paint, or any window replacement.
Fix and flippers doing the work themselves, even if the home is vacant.
Property managers having work done on any rental unit, even if it is vacant.
Owners who manage their own rental property.

Who must do the work?
Certified Renovator must test prior to work, supervise work, and certify clean up.

What must happen during the work?
”Renovate Right” booklet must be given to any occupant and signed disclosure at the back filled out.

Click to access renovaterightbrochure.pdf


Warning must be posted during work, and public / occupants are not allowed to enter work area.
Renovation area must be sealed off from other parts of the home.
Lead-save practices must be followed during work.
Forced air heating and A/C must be turned off in work area (vents sealed to prevent spread of dust).
Clean up must be done with HEPA vacuum and all clean up must be certified.

Who is excluded?
Owner “Occupants”, that certify that no children under 6, or pregnant women live in the home.
Key word is occupants, thus why fix and flippers are not excluded since a child or pregnant woman may purchase.
Emergency repairs on areas that would be a safety hazard, or create more damage if not immediately repaired.

What impact does this have on Brokers?
First, inform your investors, clients and contractors on this new law.
Lead Paint Disclosures on renovated homes will need to include “knowledge” and “reports” if they exist.
”Don’t Know” and “Have No Reports” will be a red flag if it is obvious walls were moved or exterior was scraped.

For more information, please visit: http://epa.gov/lead/ OR http://www.epa.gov/lead/pubs/renovation.htm

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WARMER WEATHER = SWIMMING POOLS


Safety Guidelines for Home Pools
Swimming pools should always be happy places. Unfortunately, each year thousands of American families confront swimming pool tragedies, drownings and near-drownings of young children. At InterNACHI, we want to prevent these tragedies. These are guidelines for pool barriers that can help prevent most submersion incidents involving young children. These guidelines are not intended as the sole method to minimize pool drowning of young children, but include helpful safety tips for safer pools.

Each year, hundreds of young children die and thousands come close to death due to submersion in residential swimming pools. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has estimated that each year, about 300 children under the age of 5 drown in swimming pools. Hospital emergency-room treatment is required for more than 2,000 children under 5 who were submerged in residential pools. The CPSC did an extensive study of swimming pool accidents, both fatal drownings and near-fatal submersions, in California, Arizona and Florida — states in which home swimming pools are very popular and used during much of the year.

In California, Arizona and Florida, drowning was the leading cause of accidental death in and around the home for children under the age of 5.
Seventy-five percent of the children involved in swimming pool submersion or drowning accidents were between 1 and 3 years old.
Boys between 1 and 3 were the most likely victims of fatal drownings and near-fatal submersions in residential swimming pools.
Most of the victims were in the presence of one or both parents when the swimming pool accident occurred.
Nearly half of the child victims were last seen in the house before the pool accident occurred. In addition, 23% of the accident victims were last seen on the porch or patio, or in the yard.
This means that 69% of the children who became victims in swimming pool accidents were not expected to be in or at the pool, but were found drowned or submerged in the water.
Sixty-five percent of the accidents occurred in a pool owned by the victim’s immediate family, and 33% of the accidents occurred in pools owned by relatives or friends.
Fewer than 2% of the pool accidents were the result of children trespassing on property where they didn’t live or belong.
Seventy-seven percent of the swimming pool accident victims had been missing for five minutes or less when they were found in the pool, drowned or submerged.

The speed with which swimming pool drownings and submersions can occur is a special concern: by the time a child’s absence is noted, the child may have drowned. Anyone who has cared for a toddler knows how fast young children can move. Toddlers are inquisitive and impulsive, and lack a realistic sense of danger. These behaviors, coupled with a child’s ability to move quickly and unpredictably, make swimming pools particularly hazardous for households with young children.

Swimming pool drownings of young children have another particularly insidious feature: these are silent deaths. It is unlikely that splashing or screaming will occur to alert a parent or caregiver that a child is in trouble. The best way to reduce child drownings in residential pools is for pool owners to construct and maintain barriers that prevent young children from gaining access to pools. However, there are no substitutes for diligent supervision.

Why the Swimming Pool Guidelines Were Developed

Young child can get over a pool barrier if the barrier is too low, or if the barrier has handholds or footholds for a child to use for climbing. The guidelines recommend that the top of a pool barrier be at least 48 inches above grade, measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. Eliminating handholds and footholds, and minimizing the size of openings in a barrier’s construction, can prevent inquisitive children from climbing pool barriers.

For a solid barrier, no indentations or protrusions should be present, other than normal construction tolerances and masonry joints. For a barrier (fence) made up of horizontal and vertical members, if the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members should be on the swimming pool-side of the fence. The spacing of the vertical members should not exceed 1-3/4 inches. This size is based on the foot-width of a young child, and is intended to reduce the potential for a child to gain a foothold. If there are any decorative cutouts in the fence, the space within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.

The definition of pool includes spas and hot tubs. The swimming pool-barrier guidelines, therefore, apply to these structures, as well as to conventional swimming pools.

How to Prevent a Child from Getting OVER a Pool Barrier

A successful pool barrier prevents a child from getting OVER, UNDER or THROUGH, and keeps the child from gaining access to the pool except when supervising adults are present.

The Swimming Pool-Barrier Guidelines

If the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is more than 45 inches, the horizontal members can be on the side of the fence facing away from the pool. The spacing between vertical members should not exceed 4 inches. This size is based on the head-breadth and chest depth of a young child, and is intended to prevent a child from passing through an opening. Again, if there are any decorative cutouts in the fence, the space within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.

For a chain-link fence, the mesh size should not exceed 1-1/4 inches square, unless slats fastened at the top or bottom of the fence are used to reduce mesh openings to no more than 1-3/4 inches.

For a fence made up of diagonal members (lattice work), the maximum opening in the lattice should not exceed 1-3/4 inches.

Above-ground pools should have barriers. The pool structure itself can sometimes serves as a barrier, or a barrier can be mounted on top of the pool structure. Then, there are two possible ways to prevent young children from climbing up into an above-ground pool. The steps or ladder can be designed to be secured, locked or removed to prevent access, or the steps or ladder can be surrounded by a barrier, such as those described above. For any pool barrier, the maximum clearance at the bottom of the barrier should not exceed 4 inches above grade, when the measurement is done on the side of the barrier facing away from the pool.

If an above-ground pool has a barrier on the top of the pool, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool and the bottom of the barrier should not exceed 4 inches. Preventing a child from getting through a pool barrier can be done by restricting the sizes of openings in a barrier, and by using self-closing and self-latching gates.

To prevent a young child from getting through a fence or other barrier, all openings should be small enough so that a 4-inch diameter sphere cannot pass through. This size is based on the head- breadth and chest-depth of a young child.

Gates
There are two kinds of gates which might be found on a residential property. Both can play a part in the design of a swimming pool barrier.

Pedestrian gates are the gates people walk through. Swimming pool barriers should be equipped with a gate or gates which restrict access to the pool. A locking device should be included in the gate’s design. Gates should open out from the pool and should be self-closing and self-latching. If a gate is properly designed, even if the gate is not completely latched, a young child pushing on the gate in order to enter the pool area will at least close the gate and may actually engage the latch. When the release mechanism of the self-latching device is less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate, the release mechanism for the gate should be at least 3 inches below the top of the gate on the side facing the pool. Placing the release mechanism at this height prevents a young child from reaching over the top of a gate and releasing the latch. Also, the gate and barrier should have no opening greater than 1/2-inch within 18 inches of the latch release mechanism. This prevents a young child from reaching through the gate and releasing the latch.

Other gates should be equipped with self-latching devices. The self-latching devices should be installed as described for pedestrian gates.

How to Prevent a Child from Getting UNDER or THROUGH a Pool Barrier
In many homes, doors open directly onto the pool area or onto a patio which leads to the pool. In such cases, the wall of the house is an important part of the pool barrier, and passage through any doors in the house wall should be controlled by security measures. The importance of controlling a young child’s movement from the house to the pool is demonstrated by the statistics obtained during the CPSC’s study of pool incidents in California, Arizona and Florida. Almost half (46%) of the children who became victims of pool accidents were last seen in the house just before they were found in the pool.

All doors which give access to a swimming pool should be equipped with an audible alarm which sounds when the door and/or screen are opened. The alarm should sound for 30 seconds or more within seven seconds after the door is opened. It should also be loud, at least 85 decibels, when measured 10 feet away from the alarm mechanism. The alarm sound should be distinct from other sounds in the house, such as the telephone, doorbell and smoke alarm. The alarm should have an automatic re-set feature. Because adults will want to pass through house doors in the pool barrier without setting off the alarm, the alarm should have a switch that allows adults to temporarily de-activate the alarm for up to 15 seconds. The de-activation switch could be a touch pad (keypad) or a manual switch, and should be located at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door covered by the alarm. This height was selected based on the reaching ability of young children.
Power safety covers can be installed on pools to serve as security barriers. Power safety covers should conform to the specifications in ASTM F 1346-91. This standard specifies safety performance requirements for pool covers to protect young children from drowning. Self-closing doors with self-latching devices could also be used to safeguard doors which give ready access to a swimming pool.

Indoor Pools

When a pool is located completely within a house, the walls that surround the pool should be equipped to serve as pool safety barriers. Measures recommended above where a house wall serves as part of a safety barrier also apply for all the walls surrounding an indoor pool.

Guidelines

An outdoor swimming pool, including an in-ground, above-ground, or on-ground pool, hot tub, or spa, should be provided with a barrier which complies with the following:

1. The top of the barrier should be at least 48 inches above grade, measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. The maximum vertical clearance between grade and the bottom of the barrier should be 4 inches measured on the side of the barrier which faces away from the swimming pool. Where the top of the pool structure is above grade, such as an above-ground pool, the barrier may be at ground level, such as the pool structure, or mounted on top of the pool structure. Where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, the maximum vertical clearance between the top of the pool structure and the bottom of the barrier should be 4 inches.

2. Openings in the barrier should not allow passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.

3. Solid barriers, which do not have openings, such as a masonry and stone wall, should not contain indentations or protrusions, except for normal construction tolerances and tooled masonry joints.

4. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members, and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is less than 45 inches, the horizontal members should be located on the swimming pool-side of the fence. Spacing between vertical members should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width.

5. Where the barrier is composed of horizontal and vertical members, and the distance between the tops of the horizontal members is 45 inches or more, spacing between vertical members should not exceed 4 inches. Where there are decorative cutouts, spacing within the cutouts should not exceed 1-3/4 inches in width.

6. The maximum mesh size for chain-link fences should not exceed 1-3/4 inch square, unless the fence is provided with slats fastened at the top or the bottom which reduce the openings to no more than 1-3/4 inches.

7. Where the barrier is composed of diagonal members, such as a lattice fence, the maximum opening formed by the diagonal members should be no more than 1-3/4 inches.

8. Access gates to the pool should be equipped to accommodate a locking device. Pedestrian access gates should open outward, away from the pool, and should be self-closing and have a self-latching device. Gates other than pedestrian access gates should have a self-latching device, where the release mechanism of the self-latching device is located less than 54 inches from the bottom of the gate.
The release mechanism should be located on the pool-side of the gate at least 3 inches below the top of the gate.
The gate and barrier should have no opening greater than 1/2-inch within 18 inches of the release mechanism.
9. Where a wall of a dwelling serves as part of the barrier, one of the following should apply:

All doors with direct access to the pool through that wall should be equipped with an alarm which produces an audible warning when the door and its screen, if present, are opened. The alarm should sound continuously for a minimum of 30 seconds within seven seconds after the door is opened. The alarm should have a minimum sound pressure rating of 85 dBA at 10 feet, and the sound of the alarm should be distinctive from other household sounds, such as smoke alarms, telephones and doorbells. The alarm should automatically re-set under all conditions. The alarm should be equipped with manual means, such as touchpads or switches, to temporarily de-activate the alarm for a single opening of the door from either direction. Such de-activation should last for no more than 15 seconds. The de-activation touch pads or switches should be located at least 54 inches above the threshold of the door.
The pool should be equipped with a power safety cover which complies with ASTM F1346-91.
Other means of protection, such as self-closing doors with self-latching devices, are acceptable as long as the degree of protection afforded is not less than the protection afforded by the above.
10. Where an above-ground pool structure is used as a barrier, or where the barrier is mounted on top of the pool structure, and the means of access is a ladder or steps, then:
The ladder to the pool or steps should be capable of being secured, locked or removed to prevent access.
The ladder or steps should be surrounded by a barrier. When the ladder or steps are secured, locked, or removed, any opening created should not allow the passage of a 4-inch diameter sphere.
These guidelines are intended to provide a means of protection against potential drownings of children under 5 years of age by restricting access to residential swimming pools, spas and hot tubs.

Exemptions

A portable spa with a safety cover which complies with ASTM F1346-91 should be exempt from the guidelines presented here. Swimming pools, hot tubs, and non-portable spas with safety covers should not be exempt from these provisions.

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