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, 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
One thing that brick chimneys, stone chimneys and fireplaces have in common is that eventually most will require some type of maintenance to keep a water tight seal. Leaks into a chimney can cause unsafe heating equipment as well as costly damage to the chimney, the appliances connected to it, and to the building itself. Is your chimney leaking? Are you experiencing water marks on the ceiling or walls near your chimney? Is there water appearing in the firebox? Similarly, are you experiencing cracks on the exterior of the chimney which seem to keep getting bigger or are bricks actually flaking off from your chimney? Water is the common thread between all of these problems (for the most part) and following this checklist should help you to be able to arrest water infiltration or prevent further damage.
Keep your family safe with these fireplace safety tips. Build the right size fire, and baby proof the fireplace. Heed safety concerns when cleaning a fireplace and chimney. Learn about fireplace inspection and proper disposal of fireplace ashes. Not sure if you need a chimney sweep to come out to your house? Or, concerned about getting your home dirty? And, what is the difference between having your chimney inspected and having it swept? Chimney Safety Institute of America offers two short online tutorials that walk you through the basics on chimney sweeping and inspections
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.
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.
Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless, poisonous gas that forms from incomplete combustion of fuels, such as natural or liquefied petroleum gas, oil, wood or coal.
Facts and Figures
- 480 U.S. residents died between 2001 and 2003 from non-fire-related carbon-monoxide poisoning.
- Most CO exposures occur during the winter months, especially in December (including 56 deaths, and 2,157 non-fatal exposures), and in January (including 69 deaths and 2,511 non-fatal exposures). The peak time of day for CO exposure is between 6 and 10 p.m.
- Many experts believe that CO poisoning statistics understate the problem. Because the symptoms of CO poisoning mimic a range of common health ailments, it is likely that a large number of mild to mid-level exposures are never identified, diagnosed, or accounted for in any way in carbon monoxide statistics.
- Out of all reported non-fire carbon-monoxide incidents, 89% or almost nine out of 10 of them take place in a home.
(read full article here)
Old, active knob-and-tube electrical wiring was discovered in this attic that had been unprofessionally spliced with modern electrical wiring and was in direct contact with framing elements in the attic, clear safety issues. My client was under the impression that all wiring in this home had been updated; truth be told, it simply was not. I recommended further evaluation and repair by a qualified electrician. If you have knob-and-tube wiring, consider upgrading to modern wiring. At a minimum, don’t splice into it and keep it clear and free from contacting anything as it can overheat. Do not insulate attics or crawl spaces that have knob-and-tube wiring. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.
When you see water stains on the ceiling, together with plastic Tupperware, you know there’s likely an active roof leak! Of course, I use very expensive equipment to confirm (e.g., moisture meter and infrared thermography camera), but this one was obvious. With water intrusion, there’s always the possibility of underlying damage not visible without invasive inspection; it wouldn’t hurt to open the ceiling and look for possible mold growth. This was discovered at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.
Why do we home inspectors call out missing cover plates at electrical junction boxes? Well, it’s really quite simple. A cover plate protects people from inadvertently touching live electrical wires and components in the junction box. Additionally, cover plates help encapsulate an electrical event if it ever happens. Yes, it’s a simple fix, but highly recommended. This was discovered at a home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island, but is called out on almost every home inspection.