27 03, 2016


2016-10-19T19:20:36-04:00March 27th, 2016|

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18 03, 2016

Double Tapped Breakers

2016-10-19T19:20:36-04:00March 18th, 2016|

What is a Double Tapped Circuit Breakers

Double Tapped BreakersDouble tapped circuit breakers are very common electrical defects that are found during a home inspection in Richmond Va.

Definition: ‘double tap’, is industry slang that home inspectors use when referring to when two conductors are connected under one screw or terminal within a electrical panel. Sometimes this refers to two conductors at one circuit breaker, other times it refers to two conductors connected under one screw at the neutral bar.

Double Tapped Breakers Defect or No Defect?

When it is NOT a defect:

Double tapped wiring is ok if the manufacture of the circuit breaker has designed it for two conductors. and it will say so right on the circuit breaker, and the circuit breaker terminal will be designed to hold two conductors in place. 

When it is a defect:

Electrical-Double-Tapped-Circuit-Breaker1-700x525This is a defect when the circuit breaker isn’t designed for two conductors; most aren’t.  It doesn’t matter if it’s just a simple doorbell transformer wire that’s added on to the circuit breaker – the issue isn’t about the load imposed on the circuit, it’s about the physical connection.

Why it is a problem: If the circuit breaker was not designed to hold two conductors, the conductors could come loose at some point in the future, even if they feel very tight today.  Loose conductors can lead to overheating, arcing, and possibly a fire.

How to fix:


PigTailThis is a common repair.




Add a new Circuit Breaker:

Breaker add in panel

If the panel has room for an additional breaker in the panel, another circuit breaker can be added, and the conductors split off to the two different circuit breakers.

 Other Options:

Check with your licensed professional for other options.

Note: I don’t recommend that anyone try to fix this issue on their own, you should have a licensed professional perform the evaluation and remediation. Don’t do any of this work if you’re not qualified.  You could get electrocuted or start a fire.

Richmond Home Inspections

14 03, 2016

Double Tapped Neutrals

2016-10-19T19:20:36-04:00March 14th, 2016|

Double Tapped Neutrals: This Isn’t New!

Double Tapped NeutralsThe problem I’m highlighting today is double tapped neutral lugs in electric panels.  A ‘double tapped neutral’ is a slang term for saying that one of the screws on the neutral bus bar in the panel board has more than one neutral wire feeding to it.  This is wrong, and has been for a long time.

One reason that two neutral wires can’t be connected to a single terminal in a panel board is so that the circuit can be isolated if it needs to be worked on.  There is a very informative  explanation at this link Schneider-Electric.

The other reason two neutral wires can’t be connected under a single lug is because the connections might come loose, which could lead to a fire.


Richmond Home InspectionWhile panel manufacturers will allow for up to three ground conductors under a single lug, they only allow one neutral wire.  The grounding lugs aren’t going to normally carry current for extended periods of time, so they have a very small possibility of coming loose.  This isn’t the case with the neutral conductors.

Despite what many seem to think, this didn’t become a new requirement in 2002.  This has been a requirement of UL 67 for a long time, but was spelled out in the NEC in 2002.


6 03, 2016

Richmond Aerial Photography

2016-10-19T19:20:36-04:00March 6th, 2016|

Richmond Aerial Photography



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We use the latest technology in drone UAV and cameras for still images, including geo-tagging, high level vertical images. We will capture your subject with the highest detail. Aerial photography is perfect for construction progress, real estate, legal recording, marketing and more


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Need to promote your clients premier listings?  Real Estate clients have found Aerial photography crucial in making properties stand out.  Our expertise and technology also allows you to include surrounding points of interest like schools, parks, rooftops, highway access and shopping centers.  

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Do you want an aerial showing Stoney Point Shopping Center and Short Pump in one photo? We cover Richmond, Henrico, Chesterfield, Colonial Heights, Hanover, Ashland, Mechanicsville, New Kent County, Hopewell, Glen Allen, Virgina Beach, Williamsburg, Waynesboro, Charlottesville, and the Fredericksburg Stafford County area. All of our photos are in High Definition.

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5 03, 2016

TPR Valves and Discharge Piping

2016-10-19T19:20:36-04:00March 5th, 2016|

TPR Valves and Discharge Piping

Temperature/pressure-relief or TPR valves are safety devices installed on water heating appliances, such as boilers and domestic water supply heaters. TPRs are designed to automatically release water in the event that pressure or temperature in the water tank exceeds safe levels.
If temperature sensors and safety devices such as TPRs malfunction, water in the system may become superheated (exceed the boiling point). Once the tank ruptures and water is exposed to the atmosphere, it will expand into steam almost instantly and occupy approximately 1,600 times its original volume. This process can propel a heating tank like a rocket through multiple floors, causing personal injury and extensive property damage.
Water-heating appliance explosions are rare due to the fact that they require a simultaneous combination of unusual conditions and failure of redundant safety components. These conditions only result from extreme negligence and the use of outdated or malfunctioning equipment.
The TPR valve will activate if either water temperature (measured in degrees Fahrenheit) or pressure (measured in pounds per square inch
[PSI]) exceed safe levels. The valve should be connected to a discharge pipe (also called a drain line) that runs down the length of the water heater tank. This pipe is responsible for routing hot water released from the TPR to a proper discharge location.
It is critical that discharge pipes meet the following requirements, which can be found in InterNACHI’s Water Heater Discharge Piping mini-course, at www.nachi.org/education. A discharge pipe should: TPR Valves and Discharge Piping
  1. be constructed of an approved material, such as CPVC, copper, polyethylene, galvanized steel, polypropylene, or stainless steel. PVC and other non-approved plastics should not be used since they can easily melt.
  2. not be smaller than the diameter of the outlet of the valve it serves (usually no smaller than 3/4″).
  3. not reduce in size from the valve to the air gap (point of discharge).
  4. be as short and as straight as possible so as to avoid undue stress on the valve.
  5. be installed so as to drain by flow of gravity.
  6. not be trapped, since standing water may become contaminated and backflow into the potable water.
  7. discharge to a floor drain, to an indirect waste receptor, or to the outdoors.
  8. not be directly connected to the drainage system to prevent backflow of potentially contaminating the potable water.
  9. discharge through a visible air gap in the same room as the water-heating appliance.
  10. be first piped to an indirect waste receptor such as a bucket through an air gap located in a heated area when discharging to the outdoors in areas subject to freezing, since freezing water could block the pipe.
  11. not terminate more than 6 inches (152 mm) above the floor or waste receptor.
  12. discharge in a manner that could not cause scalding.
  13. discharge in a manner that could not cause structural or property damage.
  14. discharge to a termination point that is readily observable by occupants, because discharge indicates that something is wrong, and to prevent unobserved termination capping.
  15. be piped independently of other equipment drains, water heater pans, or relief valve discharge piping to the point of discharge.
  16. not have valves anywhere.
  17. not have tee fittings.
  18. not have a threaded connection at the end of the pipe so as to avoid capping.
Leakage and Activation
A properly functioning TPR valve will eject a powerful jet of hot water from the discharge pipe when fully activated, not a gentle leak. A leaky TPR valve is an indication that it needs to be replaced. In the rare case that the TPR valve does activate, the homeowner should immediately shut off the water and contact a qualified plumber for assistance and repair.
Inspectors should recommend that homeowners test TPR valves monthly, although inspectors should never do this themselves. The inspector should demonstrate to the homeowner how the main water supply can be shut off, and explain that it can be located at the home’s main water supply valve, or at the water supply shut-off for the appliance on which the TPR is mounted.
TPR Data Plate Information
  • The pressure at which a TPR valve will activate is printed on a data plate located beneath the test lever. This amount should not exceed the working pressure limit marked on the data plate of the water-heating appliance it serves.
  • The BTU/HR rating marked on the water-heating appliance data plate should not exceed that of the TPR, which is marked on the TPR data plate.
  • TPR valves with missing data plates should be replaced.

Although a TPR valve might never become activated, it is an essential safety component on boilers and domestic water heaters. Guidelines concerning these valves and their discharge pipes reflect real hazards that every homeowner and home inspector should take seriously. More information about this subject can be found in InterNACHI’s Water Heater Discharge Piping mini-course, InterNACHI’s Plumbing Inspection course or by contacting a qualified plumber.

by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard

4 03, 2016

Furnace Short Cycle

2016-10-19T19:20:36-04:00March 4th, 2016|

My Furnace Keeps Turning On and Off (Furnace Short Cycle)

furnace-repair-serviceWhen your furnace is working properly, it automatically cycles on when it senses that the air is too cold. When the temperature in your Richmond, Va home or business is comfortable, the heating system shuts itself off in response. The process is so automatic that you probably don’t give it much thought. However, it could indicate a serious problem when your furnace keeps turning on and off randomly throughout the day. Fortunately, there are some troubleshooting tips you can try on your own before placing a call for Heating & Air Conditioning for repairs.

Screen Shot 2016-03-04 at 7.43.41 PM
Diagnosing the Problem

When a furnace keeps turning on and off, it is usually due to short cycling. This is the term used to describe problems originating from within the heating system. If short cycling is not promptly diagnosed and corrected, it could cause permanent damage to your heating unit and higher utility bills. The average heating system cycles on and off three to six times every hour. To diagnose a problem with short cycling, technicians run a test cycle of your heating unit and count how many times it stops and restarts over 60 minutes.

Pay Attention to Your Air Filters

One of the most common causes of short cycling is also the easiest to fix. If you don’t make a habit to regularly clean or change your heating system’s air filter, it could have a major impact on its efficiency. Warm air can’t pass through the filter and it backs up within the unit. This sends the incorrect message to the heating system that your home is already warm enough. The unit subsequently shuts itself off and your home becomes cold, signaling the system to start up again. To avoid this problem, make sure that you change the air filter at the start of each new season and check it monthly.

Check Your Thermostat

Sometimes the problem of short cycling is caused by a faulty thermostat and not by the unit itself. You should ensure that your thermostat is turned on and set to the accurate settings before assuming that your heating unit needs to be repaired. The placement of your thermostat also makes a difference. If it is too close to another heat source, such as direct sunlight or a heat register, it could sense that the temperature in your home is too warm. Your heating system will turn off when this happens.

Other Possible Causes of Short Cycling

If you’ve ruled out a dirty air filter or a malfunctioning thermostat, the problem may be caused by one of the following:

Corroded flame sensor
Improperly sized heating system
Foreign objects lodged in the chimney or air vents
If you suspect any one of these issues, schedule an appointment with an experienced HVAC professional.