What is an Anti-Tip Bracket?

What is an Anti-Tip Bracket?

A common item called out in 95% of my inspections is the anti-tip bracket missing from a free standing range.

Anti-tip brackets are metal devices designed to prevent freestanding ranges from tipping. They are normally attached to a rear leg of the range or screwed into the wall or the floor behind the range, and are included in all installation kits. A unit that is not equipped with these devices may tip over if enough weight is applied to its open door, such as that from a large Thanksgiving turkey, or even a small child. A falling range can crush, scald, or burn anyone caught beneath.

Stove Tip-Over Injuries and Deaths

Reports about tipping stoves first began to surface in the early 1980s, after manufacturers switched from cast iron to lighter materials. In 1991, the nonprofit Underwriters Laboratories created nationally recognized voluntary standards for new ranges and required that they be fitted with anti-tip devices and include a warning in instruction manuals.

Stove tipping has resulted in hundreds of children being burned, scalded, and crushed. According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), between 1980 – 2006 there was an estimated yearly average of 1700 stove related instability and tipovers of stoves, ovens and ranges. Of those incidents, 13 resulted in death. Many of the fatalities involved children under the age of 10

Stove tipping has become an unrecognized epidemic in our country, but mainly affects babies, children and the elderly.

How To Confirm The Presence of an Anti-Tip Bracket

This is included in my standard home inspection. To check for the presence of an anti-tip bracket, you can firmly grip the upper-rear section of the range and tip the unit. If equipped with an anti-tip bracket, the unit will not tip more than a few inches before coming to a halt. The range should be turned off, and all items should be removed from the stovetop before this action can be performed. It is usually easier to detect a bracket by tipping the range than through a visual search. This test can be performed on all models and it can confirm the functionality of a bracket.

What Do I Do If There Is No Anti-Tip Bracket Installed?

Homeowners can contact the dealer or builder who installed their range and request that they install a bracket. Or, for homeowners who wish to install a bracket themselves, the part can be purchased at most hardware stores or ordered from a manufacturer.

In summary, ranges are susceptible to tipping if they are not equipped with anti-tip brackets. And are especially hazardous to children and the elderly.

Grounding/Bonding CSST

One of the most common defects I have come across lately in home inspections is ungrounded or improperly grounded Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing Gas line (CSST). The biggest reason for this is that CCST had become very popular starting in the early 2000’s and did not become known to be a hazard if not grounded/bonded until about 2013.

Properly bonding and grounding of a CSST system may reduce the risk of damage and fire from a lightning strike. Lightning is a highly destructive force.  Even a nearby lightning strike that does not strike a structure directly can cause systems in the structure to become electrically energized. Differences in potential between systems may cause damage to the CSST, including holes. Bonding and grounding reduces the risk of arcing and other related damage. While inspecting gas lines I confirm that the CSST gas system has been properly bonded to the grounding electrode system of the premises.

The gas piping system shall be considered to be direct-bonded when permanently and directly connected to one of the following:

  • The electrical service equipment enclosure
  • The grounded conductor at the electrical service
  • The grounding electrode conductor
  • One or more of the grounding electrodes used

For single and multi-family structures, a single bond connection is made downstream of the individual gas meter for each housing unit and upstream of the first CSST connection. The bonding conductor should be no smaller than a 6 AWG copper wire or equivalent, and the bonding jumper should be attached in an approved manner in accordance with NEC Article 250.70. The point of attachment for the bonding jumper must be accessible. Bonding/grounding clamps shall be installed in accordance with its listing per UL 467 and need to make metal-to-metal contact with a steel pipe component or the first CSST fitting. This bonding requirement is in addition to any other bonding requirements that are specified by local codes.
The CSST portion of the gas piping system must not be used as the point of attachment of the bonding clamp at any location along its length under any circumstances

Methamphetamine Inspections

Tri-State Home Inspections provides inspections and testing for methamphetamine.

  • Meth can only be found with lab samples to be sure the home is free of meth residue

What is “meth”? It stands for methamphetamine, also known as, “speed,” “crank,” “crystal” and “ice.” There are many different recipes for “cooking” meth. All the methods of manufacturing methamphetamine involve dangerous chemicals and reagents/substances that are considered harmful to humans. The residues that remain after the cooking process can remain on surfaces for months or years after the cooking is over. Even though the chemicals used can be obtained at the local hardware store, they can create serious problems for the innocent victim.

Property Contamination

Why should this matter to a home buyer, owner or landlord? It is simple: during the meth manufacturing process, chemical compounds become airborne (volatilized) and settle out, depositing onto walls, ceilings, appliances, floors, carpets and other typical household items throughout the structure’s interior. Additionally, the chemicals used to make the illegal drugs may be spilled during handling. Not only are the production chemicals hazardous, meth use can also contaminate a property. The manufacture of this drug has caused billions of dollars in property damage and most importantly, has become a major health hazard. In almost all cases the residue contamination left behind after a cook can pose serious health risks.

Contamination from smoking or making meth can leave behind enough methamphetamine on surfaces and in ventilation system that people and pets can suffer from health problems similar to a chronic meth user. Some experts claim that smoking meth once in a room could leave behind enough residue to cause adverse effects.

Smoking and making meth can threaten everyone who happens onto the site. This includes the children, one-year-old babies are most vulnerable, who live in or visit in the future. Meth residue does wear off over time as contact with people and pets and cleaning rubs it away, but enough residue for observable adverse effects has been found in motels years after someone was caught making in the room.

Meth Inspection Service

Meth inspections include both a visual inspection and methamphetamine residue sampling. The report will include the following:

  •    Property description, including physical address, legal description, layout of the property, structural features, etc.
  •    Photographic documentation of site.
  •    Hazardous chemical use or storage areas, waste disposal areas, cooking areas, chemical stains, fire damage, and other observable damage.
  •   Information about surfaces, furnishings, and appliances.
  •    Inspection of HVAC system. Vents, ductwork, filters, walls and ceilings near ventilation ducts frequently become contaminated.
    • Contamination levels in HVAC systems are often 25 times higher than the household average.
  •    Inspection of garages, barns and other outbuildings.
  •    Inspection of plumbing, septic, and sewer systems. Most liquid chemical byproducts are dumped into bathtubs, sinks, drains, and toilets.
    • These chemicals can collect in drains, traps and septic tanks. Plumbing fixtures that are visibly contaminated beyond normal household wear and tear should be noted (chemical etching, chemical staining or chemical odors present).
  •    Identification of adjacent areas/units in multiple dwellings that may require cleaning.
  •    Outdoor inspection for evidence of burn or trash pits, discolored soil or dead vegetation, indicating possible contamination of water and/or soil.
  •    Surface samples taken and sent to an EPA accredited lab

Mold Inspection

Did you know that almost every indoor environment has mold at low levels?  It’s true! But when there is visible mold in a home or the number of airborne mold spores is higher than normal, a mold problem exists.

When should a mold inspection and mold testing be considered?

  • When visible mold is not present, but the smell of mold is present. Here a mold inspection and mold test can reveal whether there is indeed elevated mold, and where it is located.
  • There have been plumbing leaks or water issues and there is a suspicion that elevated mold may exist in the air and/or behind walls.
  • Post Mold Removal Clearance Testing to ensure that the previous mold issues has been resolved and mold counts have returned to levels found in normal environments of the same type.
  • Health Concerns: In some cases a doctor or the patient has a health issue that they cannot pinpoint the cause but seems to be related to mold symptoms (coughing, sneezing, headaches, etc). Here, a mold inspection and test may help to confirm whether the doctor’s or patient’s suspicions that a mold problem exists.
  • For real estate transactions for the protection of Buyers and Sellers.
  • Landlord/Tenant disputes as to whether there is a mold problem.
  • Someone thinks they see or smell mold but are not sure.
  • Someone is interested in a general Indoor Air Quality test of their environment.

I am going to tell you something right away about mold inspections and mold testing that other company’s don’t want you to know. If you already see visible mold, you usually do NOT need a mold inspection or mold testing. If you already see visible mold, you simply need to remove it following industry standard guidelines. 

If you already see visible mold? Don’t you need to know, for example, what kind of mold it is so you can determine whether its toxic? In fact, in most cases, the surprising answer here is “no.” For starters, so called “Black Mold” is a term that is badly misused and misunderstood. Once you already see visible mold, knowing what type it is, for example, is usually irrelevant because at this point, you or a Mold Professional simply need to get rid of the mold following proper Mold Remediation and Mold Removal Principles. 

If a mold inspection and mold testing is necessary, there are three basic steps Tri-State Home Inspections LLC takes with every mold inspection.

Step 1: Conduct a inspection of property

This includes:

  • Environmental Assessment
  • Visual Inspection
  • Thermal imaging of home
  • Air Quality Analysis or Direct Sample Test

Mold inspections involve carefully inspecting your home for signs of water intrusion and mold growth. This process usually take about 1 hour to perform. Tri-State Home Inspections LLC will also perform an air quality and/or direct sample test to help identify the magnitude of the problem.

Step 2: The samples are sent to a laboratory

That test will be shipped to an accredited 3rd party lab for analysis. Tri-State Home Inspections LLC will contact you within a couple of days and provide a copy of the 3rd party lab results and a written report. This written report will explain the lab results and our findings in plain, easy-to-understand English.  It will also include a plan for mold remediation and fixing the mold problem if one is identified from the mold inspection results.

Step 3: Follow Up

If a mold problem is located Tri-State Home Inspections LLC will be avaialable to perform follow up testing to confirm the mold has been removed and the problem repaired.

  • The sample fee is $75 per air sample or direct sample

Why Over-The-Counter Home Mold Tests Kits Are A Ripoff:

  • Mold samples are often misleading or simply wrong (i.e. due to error). You need a professional to interpret the results.
  • Home Mold Test Kits don’t include a visual inspection conducted by a mold professional … very important! A professional mold inspection includes not only sampling but also a comprehensive visual inspection to detect issues and problems related to mold that are not apparent to most people without training in building sciences and mold inspections.
  • Mold is everywhere. Yes, all homes have small amounts of mold. Therefore, when a petri dish from a home mold test tells you that you have mold, it is not telling you anything useful since every home has mold!
  • If you suspect a mold problem but do not actually see it or smell it, these test kits do not help you locate the problem or tell you how serious it is.
  • Don’t take my word for it. Here is what the U.S. Government EPA says, verbatim: “Sampling for mold should be conducted by professionals who have specific experience in designing mold sampling protocols, sampling methods, and interpreting results. Sample analysis should follow analytical methods recommended by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), the American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists (ACGIH), or other professional organizations.”

Remember this simple rule: If you can already see mold, you need to remove it. Testing is usually unnecessary at this point.

Forced Air Gas Furnaces

Forces air gas furnace is a central heating system used to heat a home or building. All furnaces work on the same basic principles and have similar parts:

  • Thermostat
  • Pilot light or electric igniter
  • Gas valve
  • Burners
  • Heat exchanger
  • Fan
  • Exhaust

The pilot light ignites a series of burners inside the combustion chamber that then enters the heat exchanger, where the heat transfers to the air in the home with the use of a fan to heat the home to the set point of the thermostat.

HtExchgr_dwg2

There are 3 types of forced gas furnaces I come across inspecting homes:

  • Low efficiency furnace 78% or less
  • Mid efficiency furnace 80% – 89%
  • High efficiency furnace 90%-98% (Condensing)

When looking at the efficiency it is easy to understand if you think in these terms:

  • In an 80% efficient furnace 20% of the heat is loss in the combustion and goes out the chimney.

Low and Mid efficient furnaces have one heat exchanger usually 1 gas valve setting, and standard fan adjusted to one speed for heat, cool or just fan. They require a chimney to vent the flue gases to the exterior of the home, with temperatures of up to 300-350 degrees.

INTERNAL DRAFT DIVERTER

High efficiency condensing furnaces will have two heat exchangers, the standard heat exchanger as well as a second heat exchanger the flue gases are run though to extract as much heat from the system as possible. This process does cause condensation that is why they are called condensing furnaces. Because of the secondary heat exchanger these furnaces use PVC exhaust pipes with a temperature of about 100 degrees.

CONDENSATION IN HIGH EFFICIENCY FURNACES_pers

High efficient furnaces also come with several options to choose from to make the furnace even more efficient:

2-Statge gas valve

  • 2 – stage furnace will operate in its low-fire stage during periods of mild weather (pushing less air through the ducts and less combustion gas through the flue), and automatically ramp up to its second high-fire stage during extremely colder weather.
  • This will cause the home to experience fewer and much less severe temperature swings in the home, which will result in greater over-all comfort for you and energy savings.

Variable Speed Motor (ECM) – This is the blower motor in the furnace, unlike the traditional motor is saves you money and adds to the comfort of your home:

  • The motor converts AC current into DC current which is cheaper to run
  • When starting it will ramp up to speed and ramp down to prevent a large use of power at the start
  • When sit to fan mode it will operate the fan at 1/8th the cost of the traditional fan.
  • With the fan running the air is constantly circulating preventing cool or hot areas and giving the home a consistent temperature throughout the home

With a high efficient furnace, I recommend to not turn the thermostat below 60 degrees because of the following possible results:

  • With return air that cold, flue gas will condense in the primary heat exchanger causing rust & corrosion.
  • Newer, more efficient heat exchangers are, by necessity, thinner than they used to be, and if you set the thermostat too low in heating mode, the increased temperature differential between the returned air and the heated air increases the effect of the cool/hot contraction/expansion cycle of the metal in the heat exchanger, which significantly shortens its life

In the event that the furnace is not operating here are a couple recommendations to check before calling an HVAC specialist.

  • Turn off the main switch to reset the control board, remove the air filter and turn back on. If the furnace starts most likely a dirty air filter, install a clean filter. If this does not work check the exterior of the vent pipe for a blockage, if blockage is found turn off main switch then turn back on to reset control board and see if it runs normally.
  • If neither of these works. Call a licensed and insured HVAC contractor for further evaluation and repair or replace as warranted.

Reverse Polarity in Home Wiring

Reverse Polarity is a common problem I come across either in the outlets or with the home’s wiring. Home wiring is color coded, Black is HOT (often called the live wire) and WHITE is NEUTRAL. This is different from 12 volt systems where the black is often the neutral, it is very important to understand how wiring differs for a home over an automobile.

In home wiring it is very easy to know what the wires are:

  • White wire is the neutral
  • Green or bare wire is the ground
  • Any other color than white, green or bare is a hot (live wire)

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An outlet that is wired backwards is a reversed outlet, the terminals on a outlet is colored to let you know what is the hot side and what is the neutral. Brass is hot (black wire) the silver is neutral (white wire). If an outlet has reverse polarity is it hard to tell unless it is tested because alternating current (AC) will only travel in one direction like water flowing in the river. If it was hooked up to direct current (DC/12 volt battery) the motor would rotate in the opposite direction and is very easy to recognize.

The reason that reversed polarity can create a shock hazard in certain situations is because the switch is positioned before the hot wire side enters the appliance and the neutral is connected to the other end of the appliance circuitry, when the polarity is reversed the appliance circuitry is electrically charged all the time, but only functional when a switch closes the neutral wire connection and the current begins flowing.

Using the diagram of a toaster below I can show you the difference in a correctly wired and a reversed polarity outlet. The left toaster is wired correctly with the circuit being live only up to the switch. The right toaster with reverse polarity has all the wiring live up to the switch. With the toaster reversed if you were to put a knife or fork into it you would get shocked. This also works for a light bulb socket, the metal shell would become electrified and cause a shock if touched. If the wiring is correct it is harmless to touch a lamp shell or stick something in a toaster.

ToasterPolarity

Reverse polarity needs to be repaired and is usually simple, most of the time just switching the wiring around. If you are comfortable working with electricity it is a easy DIY project, if not call a licensed electrician. If the whole home wiring is reversed then the services of a licensed electrician will be needed.

The only way to know if your wiring has reverse polarity is to test it, the easiest and simplest way to test is to purchase an inexpensive three light circuit tester at any hardware store.

 

 

Bad Upgraded Outlets

Inspecting older homes the most common defect I find is bad electrical outlet upgrades. Usually the outlets are upgraded by homeowners or other non-qualified person to do electrical. The following is the verbiage I use in my report.

“At some time the electrical outlets have been upgraded from the original 2-prong outlets to modern 3-prong outlets without upgrading the wiring to the outlets. This presents an unsafe condition. The purpose of the third prong is grounding.”

Installing a 3-prong outlet on a 2 wire system is wrong and not up to any codes, but is happens in many older homes. The purpose of the ground is to provide an alternate path for the electrons to flow back to the main electrical panel. If there should be a short, the electrons do not have an alternate path back to the electrical panel without the grounding wire.

When your home has bad upgrades as a homeowner you have four choices:

  • Upgrade the wiring to new grounded wire
  • Install GFCI (ground fault) protection
  • Install new 2-prong ungrounded outlets
  • Know the 3-prong outlets are not grounded and use as a 2 prong outlet with no ground. This condition needs to be disclosed to anyone using the outlet. The 3-prong outlet will give a false sense of security about the outlet being grounded.

If you use non-grounded outlets I recommend using a good quality surge protector for sensitive electronics. ( Desk top computers, flat screen tv’s, ect..)

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