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Archive for January, 2014

15
Jan

Ever wonder why the outlets in your kitchen and bathrooms are different than the rest of your rooms? The use of water in bathrooms and kitchens make it more likely to receive an electrical shock. GFCI outlets are designed to provide protection in these conditions.

What is a GFCI?

A ground-fault circuit interrupter, viagra or GFCI, is a device used in electrical wiring to disconnect a circuit when unbalanced current is detected between an energized conductor and a neutral return conductor.  Such an imbalance is sometimes caused by current “leaking” through a person who is simultaneously in contact with a ground and an energized part of the circuit, which could result in lethal shock.  GFCIs are designed to provide protection in such a situation.

In the United States it is estimated that about 300 deaths by electrocution occur every year.  In order to mitigate the possibility of injury or fatality from electric shock the use of GFCIs has been adopted in new construction and recommended as an upgrade in older construction.

 Shock from plug

NEC Requirements for GFCIs

National Electric Code (NEC) started requiring GFCI for very specific applications starting in 1968. Since then they have added other areas and made some exceptions to improve the safety of our homes and work places.

Testing Receptacle-Type GFCIs

Receptacle-type GFCIs are currently designed to allow for safe and easy testing that can be performed without any professional or technical knowledge of electricity.  GFCIs should be tested right after installation to make sure they are working properly and protecting the circuit.  They should also be tested once a month to make sure they are working properly and are providing protection from fatal shock.

 

To test the receptacle GFCI, first plug a nightlight or lamp into the outlet. The light should be on.  Then press the “TEST” button on the GFCI. The “RESET” button should pop out, and the light should turn off.

 

If the “RESET” button pops out but the light does not turn off, the GFCI has been improperly wired. Contact an electrician to correct the wiring errors.

 

If the “RESET” button does not pop out, the GFCI is defective and should be replaced.

If the GFCI is functioning properly and the lamp turns off, press the “RESET” button to restore power to the outlet.

GFCI_receptacle

Why Test my GFCI outlets?

GFCI outlets wear out and can function as an outlet but not trip when needed. Even new outlets out of the box have been known to not work correctly.  Testing them on a regular basis will ensure that you know they are working correctly.

Take 5 minutes and test your outlets.

 

05
Jan

Ever wonder about your house number? Often, the previous owner installed the number and the new owner never had to think about it, leaving them clueless as to why it was placed where it is or why a particular color or size was chosen. These numbers are more important than you probably realize, and a lot of thought goes into making sure they are visible.

House numbers should be clear enough so that police, the fire department, paramedics, etc., can quickly locate properties in an emergency. Numbers are often the only way that first-responders can identify their intended destinations. Your city might even have laws requiring your house number to be of a certain size or color. Also, think of the poor pizza delivery guy who runs late because he can’t find your house, or frustrated party guests who have to knock on neighbors’ doors before they find yours.

Consider the following recommendations:

  • The numbers should be large, within reason. Try to make them at least 5 or 6 inches tall. Smaller numbers may not be visible from the street if you have a large front yard. Replacement house numbers can be purchased from hardware stores and online.
  • The numbers should be of a color that contrasts with their background. Reflective numbers are great because they are easier to see at night. Brown on black or white on yellow may look swanky but are bad choices for the purpose.
  • Try not to put house numbers behind any trees, shrubs, or anything else that may obscure their view from the street.
  • Make sure that the number faces the street that is listed in the house’s address. It does emergency workers no good if the house number faces a different street than the one the workers are traveling on.
  • Is your house not visible from the road? Then the number should be placed at the driveway’s entrance.
  • The next time you hire an InterNACHI inspector, ask him whether your numbers are adequate. Inspectors should know the laws in your area and be able to offer you a professional opinion.

Keep in mind that you may need to make adjustments.

Even if your house number is currently adequate, InterNACHI believes that it might need adjustment in the future. The following are common reasons why you may need to adjust your number in the future:

  • The addresses assigned to houses by the city occasionally change, and you must adjust your numbers accordingly.
  • The trees or shrubs in front of your house have grown so much that the number is no longer visible.
  • House numbers installed in the winter may be visible during that season, but become blocked by budding vegetation by spring or summer.

Maintain your house numbers, along with the rest of your home’s exterior.

  • Keep your numbers clean. They may not be reflective or contrasting if they are covered in mud.
  • Trim back vegetation as needed.
  • Don’t let piles of snow obscure the numbers. If this happens, raise the number so this situation does not happen again.
In summary, house numbers serve a critical function for emergency personnel and should be clearly displayed.
by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard

From House Numbers – Int’l Association of Certified Home Inspectors (InterNACHI) http://www.nachi.org/house-numbers-consumer.htm#ixzz2pZpMB1XA