Author Archives: Sara Radka

VIDEO: Improper Bathroom Outlet Placement

I was unable to test a bathroom outlet at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island because it was placed directly against the vanity cabinet, rendering plugging any appliances into it very difficult. I certainly couldn’t insert my plug tester. This is a reportable issue because, (1) I couldn’t test the outlet or verify it was GFCI protected and (2) future homeowners need to know they likely need to make repairs to have a functional MBA outlet.

January home tips

January is a good time to inspect furniture, cabinets and vanities for loose knobs, pulls and hinges. Tighten or repair as necessary.

Tighten screws on drawers, doors, and furniture.

Lubricate squeaky door hinges with lightweight machine oil.

Free sticky doors by trimming edges or shimming hinges with thin pieces of cardboard.

Check the house and make a list of minor household repairs needed.

Make a list of broken electrical face plates, missing pulls or knobs, locks that need lubrication, and spots that need caulking around sinks and tubs. Go to the home improvement store and buy everything you need to make all of your repairs at once.

Post holidays floor care

After all the holiday traffic your hardwood floors and carpets may be looking a little worse for the wear. Maintaining good hardwood floor care is not an easy task, but with these doityourself.com tips, you will be able to remove stains, polish, and keep your hardwood floor looking new. The site also has a good carpet cleaning article to help you clean, remove stains and extend the life of your carpets.

VIDEO: AFCI Breakers at Electrical Panel Explained

AFCI breakers, or Arc-Fault-Circuit-Interrupter breakers, are commonly installed in newer homes. This video, taken at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, explains how to test these breakers for proper operation. The 2005 NEC stated that AFCIs must be placed on bedroom power and lighting circuits; new codes require AFCI breakers be installed for all rooms within the home supplying outlets. As with all property protection and life saving devices, the ultimate use, beyond the Code, rests with the homeowner. Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and escape ladders are all examples of emergency equipment used in homes to take action when a fire occurs. An AFCI is a product that is designed to detect a wide range of arcing electrical faults to help reduce the electrical system from being an ignition source of a fire. Conventional overcurrent protective devices do not detect low level hazardous arcing currents that have the potential to initiate electrical fires. It is well known that electrical fires do exist and take many lives and damage or destroy significant amounts of property. Electrical fires can be a silent killer occurring in areas of the home that are hidden from view and early detection. The objective is to protect the circuit in a manner that will reduce its chances of being a source of an electrical fire. Below is a great link to some additional information about AFCI breakers.

VIDEO: Deteriorated post brackets

Deteriorated and corroding post-to-base metal hardware brackets at deck systems should be replaced for safety reasons as they no longer serve their intended purpose. This was discovered at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. When metal brackets begin to rust and corrode, painting with an exterior metal paint will help prolong serviceable life. Once they’re deteriorated, however, they’re clearly compromised and require replacement.

VIDEO: Dangling exterior outlets

Dangling, loose exterior outlets were discovered at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. When new siding is installed on a home, sometimes over existing (original) siding, it’s important to properly re-secure exterior outlets and fixtures to the (thicker) new siding and perimeter envelope. Securing loose electrical fixtures and appliances is important for safety reasons because (1) it’s important to keep rain out of electrical connections and (2) as wires move back and forth with use, because they’re not secured, they can become mechanically damaged and wiring connections can be compromised.

Fun Fact Friday!

1 in 5,000 north Atlantic lobsters are born bright blue.

There are two credit cards for every person in the United States.

Every year about 98% of the atoms in your body are replaced.

The Australian $5 to $100 notes are made of plastic.

VIDEO: Tripping HAZARD at Concrete Driveway

Concrete driveways definitely crack, which is a common occurrence with concrete driveways that lack control joints. When the cracks are pronounced or displaced (e.g., settlement occurs), they can become a tripping hazard for unwary passersby. Grinding unevenness produced by settling concrete slabs and/or mud-jacking are two ways to deal with this issue. If the cracks and settlement are pronounced, driveways are typically formed and re-poured.

Winter holiday safety tips

Winter holidays are a time for families and friends to get together. But that also means a greater risk for fire. Following a few simple tips will ensure a happy and fire-safe holiday season.

Holiday decoration fires are most likely to happen in the living room, family room or den. Almost half of all home decoration fires are started by candles. Half of holiday decoration fires happen because decorations are placed too close to a heat source. Blow out lit candles when you leave the room or go to bed. Turn off all light strings and decorations before leaving home or going to bed. See more of the National Fire Protections Association’s suggestions for winter holiday decorating and entertaining safety.