Category Archives: Safety

Safety: Install Anti-Tip Bracket at Oven/Range

Tim Hance of All Islands Home Inspections shows a range oven missing its anti-tip bracket. These brackets come standard with all ranges, but are rarely installed. It’s a simple installation- the bracket simply screws into the floor and the oven leg “seats” into the bracket when pushed into place- and highly recommended for safety reasons. If a child steps on the open oven door, or if you have a large dish (turkey?), the oven could tip over. This has happened in the past, with fatal consequences, hence the anti-tip bracket is important to be installed. Thanks for watching and listening!

Barbecue safety tips

This information was provided courtesy of the ICC Foundation and has some great tips, information, and advice about grilling safety. Enjoy!

  1. Place the barbecue grill away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches. It is also unsafe to use grills in a garage, porch or enclosed area that could trap carbon monoxide. Never grill on top of anything that can catch on fire.
  2. When grilling, have a fire extinguisher, a garden hose or at least 4 gallons of water close by in case of a fire.
  3.  Keep children away from fires and grills. Establish a safety zone around the grill and instruct the children to remain outside of the zone. A chalk line works great for this purpose. Never leave the grill unattended.

CUT TRUSSES in Garage!

Tim Hance with All Islands Home Inspections recently discovered unconventionally constructed trusses in a garage that have been cut at a home inspection on Orcas Island. Cutting trusses is expressly NOT ALLOWED as it can, and likely will, lead to structural settling and failure over time. In this case, the roof plane showed clear evidence of settling/sagging when viewed from the exterior; when I went inside, it was clear why the roof was settling. With an appropriate snow load, or with time, some of these trusses will likely crack and fail. In this particular situation, repair was difficult because the trusses were cut to accommodate large garage doors; the recommended interim solution was to install intermediate posts and beams, in the middle of the garage, to properly support the roof and allow for vehicle access and egress.

Textured “popcorn” ceilings and asbestos

Textured “popcorn” ceilings, like that pictured here, could contain asbestos, especially in homes constructed prior to 1978.  Because some sheetrock and painting contractors kept stores of this material into the early 1980s, it’s possible that textured “popcorn” ceilings in the 1980s could contain asbestos as well.  Provided the material is in good condition and not delaminating from the ceiling, this isn’t a health concern because it’s not considered “friable,” e.g., you can’t breathe it.  But if you intend to remodel (or scrape) “popcorn” ceilings, or it they’re in poor condition, testing is advised.  Asbestos can only be confirmed by laboratory testing.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.

DANGEROUSLY LOW Electrical Wires!

Tim Hance, owner of All Islands Home Inspections, recently discovered dangerously low overhead electrical service entrance conductors that were a clear safety issue at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor, WA. Additionally, these older wires were unconventionally run alongside the home’s exterior and vulnerable to mechanical damage. A qualified electrician was recommended to further evaluate and make necessary repairs for safety reasons.

Proper wiring for hot tubs

So, you’ve decided it’s time to finally get a hot tub!  It’s important to install wiring serving the hot tub properly for obvious safety reasons.  Pictured here is wiring simply run in the grass to the hot tub appliance. Hopefully it doesn’t get hit by a lawn mower or someone doesn’t trip over it!  Wiring should be sleeved in conduit, run underground to the hot tub and have a GFCI-protected subpanel installed within sight of the hot tub and readily accessible.  Also, any and all wiring modifications or additions at a home require a permit and inspection through the Department of Labor & Industries.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Mount Vernon.

Temperature pressure relief (TPR) valves

Pictured here is a typical TPR (temperature-pressure-relief) valve, installed on all water heaters.  Code requires the installation of a ¾-inch solid pipe, discharging to the exterior or extending to within six (6) inches of the floor for safety reasons.  The TPR valve is designed to discharge high temperature and/or high pressure water if the water heater overheats or develops too much internal pressure.  Without a TPR valve, the water heater could literally blow up in the event of overheating or excessive pressure build-up.  The reason we extend the pipe is because, in the event that it discharges, we don’t want it discharging high pressure, high temperature water towards a person which would be a definite safety issue.   This was discovered at a recent home inspection on Shaw Island in the San Juan Islands.

Vinyl dryer ducting

While you can still purchase vinyl dryer ducting at most hardware stores, one of my personal “peeves” is to have it replaced with metal ducting, ideally smooth metal ducting.  Dryer lint is highly flammable and vinyl burns, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense- at least to me- to use vinyl dryer ducting.  Smooth metal is best because it doesn’t have corrugated folds that can catch lint and cause it to build up, but flexible metal is good if smooth metal isn’t practical.  I always recommend replacing vinyl dryer ducting when I see it.  This was noted at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.

Anti-scald valves

Anti-scald valves, also known as tempering valves and mixing valves, mix cold water in with outgoing hot water so that the hot water that leaves a fixture is not hot enough to scald a person.

Facts and Figures

  • Scalds account for 20% of all burns.
  • More than 2,000 American children are scalded each year, mostly in the bathroom and kitchen.
  • Scalding and other types of burns require costly and expensive hospital stays, often involving skin grafts and plastic surgery.
  • Scalding may lead to additional injuries, such as falls and heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
  • Water that is 160º F can cause scalding in 0.5 seconds.

Unwanted temperature fluctuations are an annoyance and a safety hazard. When a toilet is flushed, for instance, cold water flows into the toilet’s tank and lowers the pressure in the cold-water pipes. If someone is taking a shower, they will suddenly feel the water become hotter as less cold water is available to the shower valve. By the same principle, the shower water will become colder when someone in the house uses the hot-water faucet. This condition is exacerbated by plumbing that’s clogged, narrow, or installed in showers equipped with low-flow or multiple showerheads. A sudden burst of hot water can cause serious burns, particularly in young children, who have thinner skin than adults. Also, a startling thermal shock – hot or cold – may cause a person to fall in the shower as he or she scrambles on the slippery surface to adjust the water temperature. The elderly and physically challenged are at particular risk.

Anti-scald valves mitigate this danger by maintaining water temperature at a safe level, even as pressures fluctuate in water supply lines. They look similar to ordinary shower and tub valves and are equipped with a special diaphragm or piston mechanism that immediately balances the pressure of the hot- and cold-water inputs, limiting one or the other to keep the temperature within a range of several degrees. As a side effect, the use of an anti-scald valve increases the amount of available hot water, as it is drawn more slowly from the water heater. Inspectors and homeowners may want to check with the authority having jurisdiction (AHJ) to see if these safety measures are required in new construction in their area.

Installation of anti-scald valves is typically simple and inexpensive. Most models are installed in the hot-water line and require a cold-water feed. They also require a swing check valve on the cold-water feed line to prevent hot water from entering the cold-water system. They may be installed at the water heater to safeguard the plumbing for the whole building, or only at specific fixtures.

The actual temperature of the water that comes out of the fixture may be somewhat different than the target temperature set on the anti-scald valve. Such irregularities may be due to long, uninsulated plumbing lines or defects in the valve itself. Users may fine-tune the valve with a rotating mechanism that will allow the water to become hotter or colder, depending on which way it’s turned. Homeowners may contact an InterNACHI inspector or a qualified plumber if they have further questions or concerns.

In summary, anti-scald valves are used to reduce water temperature fluctuations that may otherwise inconvenience or harm unsuspecting building occupants.

by Nick Gromicko, InterNACHI