Bootleg Ground or False Ground

2019-01-28T16:58:37+00:00January 28th, 2019|

Bootleg Ground or False Ground

 False Ground

A false ground or boot leg grounding involves using a jumper wire to connect the neutral terminal (lug) and the ground terminal (lug) on a receptacle. This is done to trick the basic hand held testers most inspectors use to check for open grounds.  This is a common trick used by do-it-yourselfers and some handy men.  The reason it is done is to disguise an ungrounded two wire electrical circuit and make it appear to be a legitimate grounded circuit.

The issue is the receptacle now appears to be correctly grounded and it is not.  An unsuspecting home owner that plugs in a power tool, kitchen appliance or any other electrical device with a three prong plug is now exposed to the possibility of a deadly electrical shock.  The third wire that would normally protect the unsuspecting user is now part of the electrical circuit and a short may not be detected until the user is shocked.  A false ground is a significant safety issue.

A false ground is dangerous

Using jumpers does not provide a ground

The proper repair for existing two wire ungrounded circuits is;

  1. Use a two prong receptacle
  2. Use a three prong receptacle protected by a GFCI receptacle Link
  3. Use a three prong receptacle protected by a GFCI breaker in the circuit breaker panel Link
  4. Replace with a grounded three wire cable

Remember ungrounded GFCI protected receptacles are required to be marked as such.

All electrical repairs should be made by a qualified electrician.

Turn On The Air Conditioning To Avoid Mold

2018-05-07T22:08:11+00:00May 7th, 2018|

 

Turn On The Air Conditioning To Avoid Mold

Keeping the air conditioning running in your home will not only cool your home, it will help reduce the humidey from the air and help circulate and filter the air.Turn On The Air Conditioning To Avoid Mold

Question: Should I leave the HVAC on in a vacant / empty home?

Answer: In a home left vacant with the utilities off, the resulting enclosed dark and damp environment will create an almost perfect situation for mold spores to grow.

In the summer, a closed house with the air-conditioning turned off will have higher moisture / humidity levels than an air-conditioned home. A vacant house also receives little or no sunlight through closed shades and no air movement with the fan off and the doors locked.
By leaving the air conditioning running, it will cool the home and remove moisture from the air and circulated and filtered the air.
Molds thrive when the humidity levels exceed 70 percent. Because humidity levels vary from day to day, the thermostat should have been left at or below 75 degrees, and the fan should have been set to “On.”

 

For more information see this link by the Environmental Protection Agency
If you are concerned about mold you should have a professional mold inspection.

Open Ground Receptacle

2018-02-17T14:01:25+00:00February 17th, 2018|

Ungrounded Or Open Ground Receptacle

Ungrounded or Open Ground Receptacles are a safety hazard and are in violation of the building and national wiring codes. They need be made safe immediately.

Newer Wiring

In homes where all the receptacle were installed with a ground, any failure of the ground must be corrected by replacing the failing receptacle, or replacing and/or reconnecting the ground wire. In many cases the open ground on one receptacle is the result of a disconnected wire at another receptacle. A wire disconnected from one receptacle will disconnect the ground service from all the receptacles down line.

Older Wiring

In older homes the original wiring did not have ground wire connected to the receptacles. These ungrounded receptacles are easily distinguished by their two hole / slot configuration verses the newer grounded type of receptacle that has three holes / slots. Ungrounded receptacles that have two holes / slots used in a home that was originally wired in this manner and has not been rewired are considered acceptable.GFCI Receptacle

Where the Problem Begins

The problems for the owners of older homes start when grounded type receptacles are substituted for the ungrounded type without the necessary rewiring that adds a ground wire to the new three prong grounded type receptacle. Grounded type (three hole / slot) receptacles may not be substituted for ungrounded receptacles unless a ground wire is connected.

An exception to this rule is allowed by the National Electric Code, when the receptacle is protected by a ground fault interrupter (GFI or GFCI).

The Fixes

There are two fixes available for those home owners who do not want to rewire the entire house.

The first fix uses Ground Fault Interrupters. There are two types of GFI available, one takes the place of the regular circuit breaker in the load center. The second type that is available takes the place of the standard outlet and replaces it with a special GFI protected receptacle. These are commonly used in the kitchens and bathrooms of newer homes. Most people know them for their black and red reset buttons.

The second fix – In many older homes the receptacle mounting box was grounded but the receptacle was not, if this the case it is possible to use a jumper between the mounting box and the grounding screw on the new grounded type receptacle. This type of ground may not be adequate for surge protectors.

Surge Protectors

A surge protector plugged into an ungrounded outlet will not operate as the manufacturer intended. When a large surge or spike hits, the surge protector uses the ground wire to take the “hit” away from the protected equipment and send it safely to ground. If the surge or spike is not sent to ground by the surge protector it will destroy the delicate electronics you were trying to protect. The warranty offered by the surge protectors manufacturer offer, is only valid if the surge protector is used in a properly grounded outlet.

Video courtesy of The Sparky Channel

Water Heater Galvanic Corrosion

2018-01-31T18:41:02+00:00January 31st, 2018|

Water Heater Galvanic Corrosion: is electrochemical disintegration that occurs when dissimilar metals come in contact with each other while immersed in an electrolyte. Galvanic corrosion is a major concern anywhere moisture can reach metal building components.

There are 3 conditions need for galvanic corrosion to occur:Water Heater Galvanic Corrosion

  • Two electrochemically dissimilar metals must be in direct contact with each another.
  • There must be an electrically conductive path between the two metals. Any non-metal, liquid substance that can conduct an electric current (such as saltwater or rainwater) can function as an electrolyte.
  • An electrical path must exist to allow metal ions to move from the active metal to the less active metal. (Typically, the metals merely touch one another).

The Statue of Liberty is perhaps the most famous case of galvanic corrosion. Contact between the wrought-iron support and the outer copper skin amidst rainwater exposure has allowed the structure to gradually corrode. The famous icon’s builder anticipated this problem and installed asbestos cloth soaked in shellac insulation in the 1880s.  This worked for some time until it dried up and became porous, acting as a sponge that held saltwater close to the contact points between the two metals. An inspection in 1981 revealed severe galvanic corrosion of the iron supports, causing them to swell and push saddle rivets through the copper skin. This rapidly worsening situation was the main drive to restore the statue in 1986, when the iron was replaced with a variety of corrosion-resistant steel. The solution has held up, and native New Yorkers and visitors alike have been able to enjoy a landmark free from corrosion that will last long into the 21st century.

Examples in Houses

  • ACQ (alkaline copper quaternary) lumber includes copper, which can corrode when it comes in contact with common aluminum building nails. With this type of lumber, it’s best to use G185 galvanized steel or stainless steel fasteners, as they will resist corrosion.
  • Aluminum wiring can become compromised. In the presence of moisture, aluminum will undergo galvanic corrosion when it comes into contact with certain dissimilar metals.
  • Piping commonly rusts and corrodes, especially at joints. The failure of pipe thread is commonly caused by corrosion where carbon steel pipe directly meets a brass valve, or where it transitions to copper pipe. Dielectric unions may be installed to separate these metals to resist damaging corrosion in pipe connections.
  • The elements of an electric water heater often rust and fail. The copper sheathe and steel base, if they become wet, may corrode. Installing galvanized unions with plastic nipples on the top of the water heater can prevent corrosion.

Galvanic Corrosion Can be Prevented in the Following Ways

  • Electrically insulate the dissimilar metals. Plastic can be used to separate steel water pipes from copper-based fittings.  A coat of grease can be used to insulate steel and aluminum parts.
  • Shield the metal from ionic compounds. This is often accomplished by encasing the metal in epoxy or plastic, or painting it. Coating or protection should be applied to the more noble of the two metals, if it is impossible to coat both. Otherwise, greatly accelerated corrosion may occur at points of imperfection in the less noble (more active or anodic) metal.
  • Choose metals that have similar potentials. Closely matched metals have less potential difference and, hence, less galvanic current. The best such solution is to build with only one type of metal.
  • Electroplate the metals.
  • Avoid threaded connections, as they are most severely weakened by galvanic corrosion.
In summary, galvanic corrosion is the disintegration of metals in the presence of an electrolyte. It can occur in homes wherever dissimilar, joined metals become damp.

Why Winterize Your Irrigation System

2017-09-14T17:50:23+00:00September 14th, 2017|

Prevent frozen water lines from damaging your irrigation system by performing this critical seasonal maintenance.

Pro Tip: Winterize Irrigation (Sprinkler) System

Irrigation sprinkler You rely on your irrigation system to keep your lawn looking its best most of the year, but when autumn approaches you need to take action and to empty and insulate the system so it will be reliable next spring. If you fail to winterize your irrigation system properly, when the cold weather hits, any water left in the lines can freeze, expand, and crack, potentially causing costly damage. For the various types of irrigation systems, there are two primary methods of releasing this water: draining it from the valves and/or using an air compressor to blow it out of the irrigation pipes. Because the consequences of leaving water behind in your pipes can be considerable, irrigation system manufacturers recommend that homeowners follow both procedures every fall before temperatures dip to 30 degrees Fahrenheit.Frozen Sprinkler

Central Virginia Home Inspections recommends contacting a irrigation company to perform the winterization of the irrigation system.

 

EMFs effects in your home

2017-03-03T19:04:31+00:00March 3rd, 2017|

EMFs In Your Home

Electromagnetic Fields

Are you sensitive to EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields). Many people are.

Home EMFCould EMFs (electric and magnetic fields),  to which people are routinely exposed cause health effects? What are sources of Electromagnetic Fields, and when are they dangerous?
An “electromagnetic field” is a broad term which includes electric fields generated by charged particles in motion, and radiated fields, such as computers, electronics, TVs, radios, hair dryers & microwave ovens. These fields are measured in units of volts per meter, or V/m. Magnetic fields are measured in milli-Gauss, or mG. The field is always strongest near the source and diminishes as you move away from the source. These energies have the ability to influence particles at great distances. For example, the radiation from a radio tower influences the atoms within a distant radio antenna, allowing it to pick up the signal. Despite the many wonderful conveniences of electrical technology, the effects of Electromagnetic Fields on biological tissue remains the most controversial aspect of the EMF issue, with virtually all scientists agreeing that more research is necessary to determine safe or dangerous levels.
Dominon Power EMF testing in Richmond VAResearch since the mid-1970s has provided extensive information on biological responses to power-frequency electric and magnetic fields. The Electric and Magnetic Fields (EMF) Research and Public Information Dissemination (RAPID) Program was charged with the goal of determining if electric and magnetic fields associated with the generation, transmission and use of electrical energy pose a risk to human health. The fact that 20 years of research have not answered that question is clear evidence that health effects of EMF are not obvious and that risk relationships, if risk is identified, are not simple. Because epidemiologic studies have raised concerns regarding the connection between certain serious human health effects and exposure to electric and magnetic fields, the program adopts the hypothesis that exposure to electric or magnetic fields under some conditions may lead to unacceptable risk to human health. The focus of the program is not only to test (as far as possible within the statutory time limits) that hypothesis for those serious health effects already identified, but to identify, as far as possible, the special conditions that lead to elevated risk, and to recommend measures to manage risk.
Body effects EMFElectromagnetic hypersensitivity (ES) is a physiological disorder characterized by symptoms directly brought on by exposure to electromagnetic fields. It produces neurological and allergic-type symptoms. Symptoms may include, but are not limited to, headache, eye irritation, dizziness, nausea, skin rash, facial swelling, weakness, fatigue, pain in joints and/or muscles, buzzing/ringing in the ears, skin numbness, abdominal pressure and pain, breathing difficulty, and irregular heartbeat. Those affected persons may experience an abrupt onset of symptoms following exposure to a new EMF, such as fields associated with a new computer or with new fluorescent lights, or a new home or work environment. Onset of ES has also been reported following chemical exposure. A concerted effort to provide scientifically valid research on which to base decisions about EMF exposures is underway, and results are expected in the next several years. Meanwhile, some authorities recommend taking simple precautionary steps, such as the following:
  • Increase the distance between yourself and the EMF source – sit at arm’s length from your computer terminal.
  • Avoid unnecessary proximity to high EMF sources – don’t let children play directly under power lines or on top of power transformers for underground lines.
  • Reduce time spent in the field – turn off your computer monitor and other electrical appliances when you aren’t using them.
EMF chartThe Office of Technology Assessment of the Congress of the United States recommends a policy of “prudent avoidance” with respect to EMF.  “Prudent avoidance” means to measure fields, determine the sources, and act to reduce exposure.
  1. Detect EMFs in your home and work environment. It is good to know where the sources of EMFs are in your everyday world and how strong these sources are. Is there wiring in the wall behind your bed that you don’t even know about? Is the vaporizer emitting strong fields in the baby’s room? How much EMFs are you and your family getting from the power lines in the street? Even hair dryers emit EMFs. Home inspectors often have meters to measure EMFs, or they can be purchased and shared with friends.EMF tester

  2. Diminish your exposure to the EMFs you find. Determine how far you must stay away from the EMF emitters in your home and work environment to achieve less than 2.5 mG of exposure — the microwave oven, the alarm clock, the computer, and so on. Rearrange your furniture (especially the beds, desks, and couches where you spend the most time) away from heaters, wiring, fluorescent lights, electric doorbells, and other EMF “hot spots.” Where practical, replace electrical appliances with non-electric devices. Have an electrician correct faulty high EMF wiring and help you eliminate dangerous stray ground currents. Central Virginia Home Inspection con provide EMF testing in the Richmond VA metro area.

  3. Shield yourself. Use shielding devices on your computer screen and cellular phone. Add shielding to your household wiring, circuit box and transformers.
EMF testing levelsMagnetic fields are not blocked by most materials. Magnetic fields encountered in homes vary greatly. Magnetic fields rapidly become weaker with distance from the source.
  • EMFs in the home, on average, range from 0 to 10 volts per meter. They can be hundreds, thousands, or even millions of times weaker than those encountered outdoors near power lines.
  • EMFs directly beneath power lines may vary from a few volts per meter for some overhead distribution lines to several thousands of volts per meter for extra-high voltage power lines.
  • EMFs from high voltage power lines rapidly become weaker with distance and can be greatly reduced by walls and roofs of buildings

House Design Styles

2017-01-17T10:09:47+00:00January 17th, 2017|

Ever wonder what each home style is called ? Real estate listings love to use specific design terminology like “traditional ranch,” or “craftsman.” If you have no idea what those mean, Part Select put together an infographic that runs you through the basics.

 The chart helps define each common housing types in the United States, then talks about specific features like siding style, roof type, window type, and more. For example, a mid-century modern is often characterized by a flat or gabled roof, oversized windows, open spaces inside, and a double-wide entry door. Meanwhile, a cottage style home takes a different approach with a steep overhanging roof, cross gables, window boxes, and smaller panes.

Lintel Rusted Corroded

2016-10-19T19:20:35+00:00October 8th, 2016|

Lintels Rusted or Corroded – What are theyBrick Lintel

Most homeowners, probably don’t know what a lintel is, let alone that they should be maintained and not rusted or corroded.

A lintel is a beam supporting masonry above an opening in a wall, such as a window or door opening. Lintels may be made of wood, masonry or steel. Lots of homes in our area that have brick or stone walls have steel lintels.

The Brick Institute of America (BIA), steel lintels will require maintenance to avoid corrosion.5
Corrosion, also known as rust when the term is applied to steel lintels, causes the lintel to expand or bloom. The expanding lintel exerts pressure on the surrounding brick or stone work, resulting in cracks and movement. I see this a lot, even in homes that are otherwise very well maintained.
That’s why maintaining steel lintels are essential in a proper maintained home.

It has become a fairly common practice to cap the lintels with aluminum and seal them with caulk. Looks good, but this practice may do more harm than good. By trapping moisture within the wall assembly, we promote rather than inhibit rust. Again we turn to the BIA for guidance. They advise that proper consideration must always be given to moisture control wherever there are openings in masonry walls. There must always be a mechanism to channel the flow of water, present in the wall, to the outside. A lack of flashing and weep holes in the original construction may limit the flow of water to the outside. Capping and caulking may make matters worse.

The BIA does not provide specifics on how to maintain steel lintels. So, what’s a responsible homeowner to do?

When I find evidence of rusty metal lintels, I generally recommend that they be cleaned, primed and painted to reduce the risk of further deterioration that could require costly repair. Use high quality paint specifically formulated for use on exterior metal surfaces. Expose any metal lintels that are capped in aluminum or are similarly concealed. Repair any damage to the surrounding masonry.

By the way, painting the lintels with the same paint used for the exterior wood trim won’t get the job done. Often the rust will bleed right through the paint.  Lintel

If the lintels are allowed to continue to rust and deteriorate, they will eventually need to be replaced – a process much more costly than paint. If the lintel is sagging noticeably or if damage to the lintel or the surrounding masonry is severe or if problems recur despite maintenance efforts, the lintel may need to be replaced. In that case, the use of galvanized steel lintels and/or improved flashing techniques may serve to extend the life of the new lintel. Discuss these options with your masonry contractor.

During a professional home inspection, Central Virginia Home Inspections will inspect the readily accessible, visually observable components of the wall structure and cladding. If evidence of rusty metal lintels, it will be noted in the home inspection report.

Perry 

Drip Edge Flashing

2018-03-01T12:19:22+00:00May 20th, 2016|

Should your roof have drip edge flashing ?

roofing6Almost all shingle roof manufacturers require drip edge flashing and show it on their installation instructions and the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association “Residential Asphalt Roofing Manual” shows it in its recommended application procedures. The International One-and-Two-Family Dwelling Code’s Chapter 9, “Roof Coverings,” states that “Asphalt shingles shall be applied according to the manufacturer’s printed instructions…”

 So why do residential roof installations lack metal drip edges? For one reason, the metal edging is the first item to get omitted from a quote whenever a price is given to install a shingle roof, whether on a new roof or a reroof. Unless the requested quote expressly makes it a requirement, this item will be omitted in both the quote response and the installation.

One contractor actually tried to justify the absence of drip edge material on a project by saying that he had been putting on shingles for almost 15 years and did not think drip edge was necessary-whether it was called for or not, this is old-school thinking. The mindset was that if you extend the shingles far enough over the edge of the deck into the gutters, you shouldn’t need any edge metal.

Critical Drip Edge Flashing Location

Obviously, the most critical location for drip metal is exactly at the location of the majority of the drips the eaves! Rake edges should also get metal edging, but it is simply not as critical. And the installation sequence of the edge metal with the felt underlayment is optional in most manufacturers’ printed instructions. You can install the felt either on top of or below the edge metal. And since water travels somewhat parallel to the rakes, this does minimize the need for coverage.

However, the edge receiving the most water on a steep-sloped roof needs the best protection affordable. If the shingles are extended much more than 3/4-1-inch over the edge, they tend to bend, eventually fracturing along the edge of the roof deck below. If the metal edging is left off, this decreases the chance for all of the water cascading over the eaves to make it into the gutters, if indeed there are any. Otherwise, shingles breaking along the line of the roof deck allow the possibility of water getting into the substrate by turning back up under the bottom of the shingle. The deleterious effects of this condition are exacerbated when the underlayment is not fully extending over the edge and/or if the fascia board is not flush with the lower edge of the wood roof deck.

Many times the roof deck is installed early on in the project and covered with felt in order to dry the house in and speed up the interior work below. Roofers will hurriedly run a cutter along the edge of the wood deck, but rarely do it in a straight line. This leaves the edge of the felt somewhat short of the edge, thereby failing to overhang the roof deck. It only gets worse when the (usually 3/4-1″ thick) fascia board is added later when the finish work is being done. This makes the felt edge that much farther from the true drip edge.

Water Under Shingles is Damaging

ar132572446158864 If water now gets under the shingles, it can possibly cause short-term staining and long-term deterioration of the lowest edge of the roof deck and along the top of the fascia board. Prolonged existence of this condition can also affect the ends of the roof joists or trusses used to attach the fascia board.

This should point out to contractors to specify, install, and insist on adequate metal drip edge to give residential clients the most value for a relatively low-cost item. It is ironic that contractors who leave out the metal drip edge in an effort to save money lessen the long-term value of a home. It is an issue whose absence and consequential side effects may take years to discover. But, in all fairness to the consumer, it is an item that should be included to proved a quality installation.

2012 International Residential Code – IRC Code

R905.2.8.5 Drip edge. 

A drip edge shall be provided at eaves and gables of shingle roofs. Adjacent pieces of drip edge shall be overlapped a minimum of 2 inches (51 mm). Drip edges shall extend a minimum of 0.25 inch (6.4 mm) below the roof sheathing and extend up the roof deck a minimum of 2 inches (51 mm). Drip edges shall be mechanically fastened to the roof deck at a maximum of 12 inches (305 mm) o.c. with fasteners as specified in Section R905.2.5. Underlayment shall be installed over the drip edge along eaves and under the underlayment on gables. Unless specified differently by the shingle manufacturer, shingles are permitted to be flush with the drip edge.
http://publicecodes.cyberregs.com/icod/irc/2012/icod_irc_2012_9_par032.htm

rarealtors

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

We fully support Richmond Association of Realtors (RAREALTORS)

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Richmond’s Home Inspection Company

If you are a Richmond Realtor and have any questions on our services please call our office @ (804) 482-1590

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