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GFCI Receptacles and Breakers

Our last 2 blogs have been on electrical. Double taps and AFCI circuit breakers. This will be the 3rd part of the electrical. The purpose of these 3 blogs were to show home owners electrical safety, electrical components and how the electrical theory has developed from the knob and tube wiring. So with that said lets begin with GFCI’s.

As we mentioned last week a GFCI receptacle is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person. It is used to reduce the risk of electric shock, which can cause the heart to stop or cause burns. They can also prevent some fires, like when a live wire touches a metal conduit.

And as we mentioned last week the difference between AFCI and GFCI is one is to prevent fires mainly and the other to prevent shock. But with GFCI’s you also may have GFCI breakers. Yes I know, lets add bit more confusion. The main purpose of the GFCI breaker maybe, older homes that have had electrical upgrades. Especially from the 2 prong receptacles. You will see GFCI breakers protecting the kitchen and bathroom receptacles. But you may have a receptacle or ceiling fixture connected to these as well, in an adjoin room. Occassionally during a home inspection a GFCI Receptacle will be installed and installed improperly in a bathroom or kitchen. So it maybe necessary to have the GFCI breaker installed as well. 

So in conclusion. GFCI’s are very effective and a need for the home. However just like any device it has to be installed correctly. This as to not have any open grounds or reverse polarity. So please do not be an expert and think you can add these devices to your home, unless you are trained to do so. To find out more about this, feel free to call us at 352-322-2700. Look us on the web; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or www.brandonhomeinspectors.com  Thank you all again.

 

 

AFCI Breakers

Good Day Everyone. This weeks blog is about AFCI Breakers. We are going to explain exactly what this type of breaker is and at the end the difference between a regular circuit breaker and a GFCI breaker. So lets begin.

An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is a type of circuit breaker that breaks the circuit when it detects a dangerous electrical arc in order to prevent electrical fires. An AFCI distinguishes between a harmless arc that occurs incidental to normal operation of switches, plugs, and brushed motors, and an undesirable arc that can occur, for example, in a lamp cord which has a broken conductor. (technical definition)

With today’s electrical code many homes have been upgraded with this device or they are installed for new construction. You will normally see AFCI’s in the living rooms, bedrooms, home office and maybe dinning room. Basically, where there is living occupied space. Where people have basements, there will be AFCI circuits as well. Now do not confuse these with GFCI’s for the kitchen, garage and bathrooms. When detected the AFCI will trip quicker then a normal circuit breaker for that branch circuit. Also when installed you entire branch circuit will be protected from that circuit breaker. The devices are great and an added safety feature for the home. However, the one little downside of this device is the CFL bulbs will occasionally trip the breaker and sometimes the bulbs will not last the life of the manufacture. Alot of electricians will be against the CFL bulbs because of that and additionally, these bulbs in my opinion really don’t save money. They get us away from carbon but I still prefer the traditional incandescent type light bulb.

So, whats the difference between an AFCI and GFCI. Well for one, a GFCI will be used for the wet areas of the home. Kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and in Florida you will see them in garages.  GFCIs prevent shocks, and AFCIs prevent fires. Both should be installed by a qualified electrician to make your home safer.

So in closing, we do not suggest that the home owner or the reader replace the breakers with AFCI or GFCI type breakers. Save that for the professional electrician. However, at Emerald Inspection Service, when performing the electrical inspection, we test both types. Yes, I am sure you have seen the little tester at the box stores for GFCI’s. However for the AFCI’s they are a bit pricier and you will normally not see for retail. Additionally, we also check for heat on the breakers. This is the common sign of the breaker maybe failing.  To find out more about this and all of our other services, that we perform in Tampa, Land O Lakes, Hernando and Clearwater Florida,  go to www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or www.tampahomeinspectors.net  You can call as well at 352-322-2700

Double Taps On Breakers

This weeks blog is about “double taps”. During the inspection process we inspect all electrical panels. There are several reasons why this process is done. And in this blog I am going to share about electrical inspections and electrical safety. So lets begin.

During the inspection process part of the electrical inspection is to inspect the panel box and sub-panel boxes. In Florida, we have with new construction a main breaker at the meter then that feeds to the panel box that maybe in the garage or bedroom. This is nice when a technician has to work on the panel. So while inspecting we check both. A lot of times the main disconnect may have a breaker for outside lighting or the pool equipment. With some homes, they almost use it as the main panel to feed the shed and/or other equipment. However, we also have the double tap as well.

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Some non-experienced workers will run a feed for an exterior circuit to the main electric feeds. Or if there is a small amp circuit for an additional receptacle they will tap off a 20 amp breaker because the panel box is full. Neither are appropriate and are not safe. The entire purpose of the breakers are in-case the amperage is to high the breaker will trip. Imagine operating heavy mechanical equipment that require 30 amps in your bedroom from the circuit that is only 15 amps. The circuit will trip every time and then the eventually cause damage to the main. As so this is true double tapping any other breaker or main. If the panel is full then either a sub-panel is needed or a complete upgrade. Yes it can be costly but it is safer. Now I have seen also where people will install an exterior receptacle and tap it to an appliance breaker. This is not good either. The starting amps for an appliance is going to be within 10% of the breaker allowed amperage. So if there is a tap to the heat-pump for that circuit and the unit comes on as you start up a weed wacker again you could trip the breaker or cause more damage then known.

So whats the solution. When adding additional circuits there is a proper process. Yes you can look on the internet but if you do not know electrical math to gain the resistance and amperage of a said circuit you could really do damage to the homes wiring. When we find these deficiencies we immediately tag the circuit. If the circuit is not energizing any food appliances we suggest to the home owner or agent that we would like to shut off the breaker as it is unsafe.  This deficiency is marked in the report and we usually have to do a return visit to inspect the deficiency being corrected.  By no means is this a deal killer for a transaction but it needs to be attended too.

For more information about electrical inspections and double taps, feel free to call us anytime. 352-322-2700. Or look us up at, www.brandonhomeinspectors.com or www.emeraldinspectionservice.com We perform this type of inspection solely or with a 4 point inspection and general inspection in the Tampa, Hudson, Hernando, and Clermont Florida areas.

Electrical Inspections

This weeks blog is about inspecting the electrical systems in the home. Now when I mention about this remember you have low voltage systems as some home still have outside lighting or be apart of the intercom, alarm panel and security systems, and then the main electric panel and circuits. So lets begin about our process and why this is a main entity in any inspection and has been a stand alone service as well. So lets begin.

Lets talk about the electric panel and circuits first. Every home is going to have a service entry cable coming from the pole. Some newer homes are underground buried in conduit that is connected to the meter on the side of the home. This is becoming more common now especially with wind and heavy rain storms. It is a lot safer and in time more economical for utility companies. However, you do have the overhead type as well. This goes to a mass head that is fed to the meter from the roof or side of the home. The biggest part of this is that their is enough clearance and a rain loop on the wires so water does not drip on the wires going into the conduit. Also you do not want tree branches near the service cable either. Now in the panel box newer systems are using copper multi-stranded wire instead of aluminum. Aluminum is fine as long as its not used for the branch circuits. Additionally, an oxidizing agent needs to be applied to the wires to maintain them so rust does not appear on the wires over time.

The branch circuits in the home start at the panel box. You have a breaker that will control usually up to 6-8 receptacles and or switches. For example you may have one breaker that controls receptacles in the living room but will control the bedroom adjacent to it. Normally circuits in each room there is one light or device on another circuit so the room does not go completely dark if the breaker trips. Alot of times when we are inspecting the circuits, some will have an AFCI breaker and we usually test them with our tester. This is a different type of tester then GFCI. We also test them in the kitchen and bathrooms. When we are inspecting we find alot of open grounds, reverse polarity or my favorite the hot and neutral are reversed. This is not an alarm to kill a deal. It just means an electrician needs to repair it properly. Also, another of my favorite is the ground slot usually is broken on the receptacle. This comes from pulling the plug from a device. This should be replaced too.

So, lets touch base on the low voltage systems. These have been becoming more popular in newer homes. Alot of homes are being pre-wired for internet, cable, intercom, sprinkler and some for outside lighting. All of these have a transformer. Even the thermostat on the wall has low voltage. Alot of inspectors do not inspect these. We do. We need to know in advance but we do. Here is why. Lets say the outside lighting is not working properly. The receptacle on that branch circuit is ok. But if the transformer is bad or bad wiring to these lights its just as much as a hazard as it is for an open ground on the branch circuits in the home. Same with the sprinkler system. Again, low voltage but you want to make sure the sprinkler heads are installed in proper place as to not rust out the housing on an ac unit or cause damage to windows.

So in closing when we are performing these type of inspections we give a complete, prompt, and accurate report. Not just a one line item. We have performed #electrical and #low voltage system inspections from #Largo to #Lakeland, from #Hudson to #Howey In The Hills Florida. Additionally this is part of the 4 point inspection process as well. For more information about electrical inspections and other services Emerald Inspection Service can provide, please call us anytime at 352-322-2700 or visit our website; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com

Pre-Sale and Seller Inspections

This weeks blog is about home owners that are going to place their property on the market after they have been in their home for several years.  There is a mis-understanding about the term, pre-sale inspection or seller inspection. In this blog we will discuss the differences and additionally, as a bonus what a “Move In Ready Home” is. So lets begin.

A few weeks ago, a client asked to have his properties inspected. Basically the client is going to place the homes on the market in the Tampa Bay and Inverness Florida area. As time has gone by since we launched these campaigns we have changed a bit for the market we are in. First we explain the difference between seller inspection and pre-sale inspection. And as you are reading this blog you are asking the same question.

A “seller inspection” is an inspection that a home inspector will report the deficiencies that are to be recorded at the time of the inspection. We consult with the seller to advise them of the repairs that should be corrected, before placing the home on the market. This can be useful in several ways as when home owners are in a home for a few years they get compalicent and maybe their eyes do not see or don’t know what is happening in the home. The inspection report is delivered to the home owner and or Realtor and let them know to correct the deficiencies.

Now lets talk about “Pre-Sale Inspections”! This is our favorite type of inspection. This inspection is very similar to the “seller inspection” but has a huge difference in the reporting. The inspector should be educated to report on how a property should look for potential clients. For example, when inspecting under the kitchen sink, home inspection reports will inspect to see if any leaks and visible water stains. The Pre-Sale inspection will take this several steps further. When we inspect this element, we inspect age, deterioration, condition of piping, and additionally water stains. Then we consult with the client how to improve elements of that part of the report. Now keep in mind, that’s one element of the report. We fully consult each area of our report with clients when it is a “Pre-Sale” Inspection. This report advises the client of how to correct and or update the deficiencies to place the home on the market.

And lastly, the big way to help your property sell quickly then other properties. There is a National Accredited Program called “Move In Ready”!  This program takes the inspection whether its a “seller inspection” or “pre-sale inspection” and make the home “Move In Ready”! Sort of the best of best of both worlds. What Emerald Inspection Service does, we consult with home owners how to take deficiencies on the report and advise them to not only correct but improve the home. When a client decides to move forward with this program, we re-inspect the property to make sure the deficiencies are repaired or corrected.  We place a Certificate that states “Move In Ready”! From there the potential home owner can understand better of the deficiencies that were corrected to make the home; “Move In Ready”!

 

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To learn more about these type of inspections, please visit our website for the following links;

https://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com/move-in-certify.html

https://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com/services.html

Feel free to call us anytime at 352-437-5300. We can perform these type of inspections and many more in a 36 hour notice, from Clermont to Ocala, from Kissimmee to Polk City Florida and other communities as well.

 

 

4 Point Inspections

This weeks blog is about 4 point inspections. The purpose of 4 point inspections and some tricky sales gimmicks of other companies that inflate the inspection process. So lets begin.

A “Four-Point Inspection” is an inspection catered to the insurance companies. With this type of inspection an insurance carrier does not want to go thru 50 plus pages of a home inspection report. There is a lot of software out there and all is different reporting styles when it comes to the actual 4 points.

The 4 Points inspected are: Roof, Electrical, Plumbing, and HVAC. So for example, the roof is inspected to make sure no leaks, no turn shingles and also no condensation in the attic. The electrical has to be in good working order. This means the panel box has no double taps, no over heated breakers and that if aluminum multi-strand wire, the wire has an oxidizing agent applied to the wire. When the plumbing is inspected there can not be any leaks under sinks, hot water heater is in good working order, no corrosion on pipes and if a well is on premise the well pump and filtration system is in good working order.

Lastly, is the HVAC system. Here in Florida, a lot of times we will see heat pumps. This is your a/c and heat. The air handler unit is usually in the garage or the attic. We check to make sure the system is performing properly. No burnt wires inside the housing, the coils are cleaned on the units, drip pans are not clogged, the disconnects to the units work properly and the thermostat is working properly. I usually check the ambient temperature to compare to the outside. Keep in mind that the a/c can not be checked if the outside temperature is below 60 degrees. This may cause damage to the compressor and other components of the system.

So above is the inspection points of the Four Point Inspection. The inspector also, has to check with the local government building department for permits on the home, for the 4 Points.

Now lets briefly discuss why insurance companies require them. First of all, any home over 25 years old the systems may start to enter the bonus life of the system. For example, if a hot water heater is over 15years of age. Its time to replace or really start to budget for that item. So the insurance carrier wants to see if there are any updates been done to the home. The 4 Point Inspection is not to be considered a full general inspection, nor is it never to be. The reporting for the 4 Point is on insurance dedicated forms. For example, “Citizens Insurance”, ” Tower Hill” or “State Farm” insurance.

In closing a lot of home inspection companies will offer this service as an ancillary service with the home inspection, only. We offer this service as a full service for our clients. And you may here from time to time catch phrases during the inspection process of 7 points, 21 points, etc. Pay no attention to them. At Emerald Inspection Service, you have your 4 Point Inspection, our self generated 5 Point Inspection which is for mobile homes and investors only, and the General Inspection. We perform these type of inspections from Sebring to Hernando. From Saint Petersburg to Sumterville Florida within a 24-36 hour time frame. For more information about #4PointInspections  go to our website: https://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com/4-point-inspections.html

Or call us anytime, 352-322-2700 or 844 RADON 40.

4PointInspector

Christmas Tree and Holiday Lighting

As we approach the holiday season we are probably putting the finishing touches of our decorations inside and outside our home. As with some of us, we maybe travelling as well. So this weeks blog is about the lights that we may be having decorated our home and the Christmas tree lights.

When we are installing festive lights on the exterior of the house, you want to make sure that the lights are for exterior use. These type of lights have a thicker insulator on the wire then inside lights. Additionally, the lights should be connected to a receptacle that is GFCI or the branch circuit is GFCI by the breaker. Now don’t worry you can buy a GFCI adapter to plug into the exterior receptacle, if you don’t have them.  Additionally any extension cords should be for exterior use and of quality heavy durability. Do not use interior light weight type of extension cords. They can be affected by weather and could be hazard from the weather.

Now for the Christmas tree. Believe it or not if you have a live tree you have water near electric. The receptacle is probably not going to be GFCI protected. So, you should have an adapter to plug in the lights that is GFCI then that plugs into the receptacle. Also, keep an eye on the tree. The tree will loose needles as it drys out. This maybe a time to undecorate when you start seeing alot of needles dropping.

These are just a few ideas to help you with decorating that will make sure that the lights and tree are safe. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Commercial Property Inspections

Commercial Property Inspection, Roof, Electrical, Plumbing, Phase I

This weeks blog is about commercial property inspections. This term is used very broadly. The term commercial property can be categorized as a store front in a strip mall. Additionally, office space maybe in an office building or a house that is converted over to a commercial property for a small business. Alot of business owners do not get a property inspection because they are leasing the property or will do some light remodeling and assume, the contractor will see aspects of the property that may need addressing. The commercial inspection can be done anywhere such as the high rises in Tampa and Clearwater. The strip malls in New Port Richey and the older homes converted to a restaurant like in Reddington Shores, Florida.

So, why should a business owner get a property inspection on their commercial space?  The reasons could be endless but we will touch base on the major ones. The first reason is so that the business owner can have full knowledge of the property. For example, on a commercial property the electrical may have had additional circuits added to the panel box such as battery back ups for a server or computers. The circuit breakers maybe weak due to the constant additional energy being used for the space of the office previously. The panel box may need to be upgraded and a skilled home inspector will determine that upon an initial assessment with the client. The plumbing and water should be tested. The old filter system maybe outdated which will cause sickness to the workers. The piping maybe corroded or leaking in a bathroom that may not be used for the tenant space. Inspecting the rooms to make sure there is proper egress if an emergency happens. Inspection of the roof is a major factor because a lot of times the property owners and management company rarely check the roof until it is an issue. Inspecting the HVAC system is keen too. The system may not have been maintained in a long time. This can cause dust mites and possible other allergens to the workers in the space.  The building could have been a storage area for auto parts or an old garage. A Phase I assessment with the commercial property inspection will determine previous tenants.

So as you can see, the reasons for the property inspection is just a small scale of why any business owner needs to have property inspection on their prospective space.  The major thing to remember is that an inspector will give its due diligence of reporting for this client.  The inspection is not to say anybody is wrong but just to assess the property and report any deficiencies that should be repaired, monitored and or that element replaced.

For more information about commercial property inspections, Phase I Assessments, and due diligence, please visit our website http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us anytime at 352-322-2700.

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