Why Every Home Needs a Dehumidifier

Why Every Home Needs a Dehumidifier

Every basement in this area needs a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from the air, improving the usefulness of basements by controlling the dampness and potential damage to your home and possessions.

Humidity is the leading cause of mold growth in the basement.  Mold and mildew flourish when the relative humidity level is above 80%; therefore, all basements—finished or unfinished—should be kept at or below 50% relative humidity. I have seen where regular vents are installed in the basement to exhaust the moist air with no makeup air. Just sucking the air out of the basement will not maintain the proper humidity levels in the basement. When you pull air out of a basement, it pulls makeup air in either through the exterior or from the upper levels of the house. On a hot and humid day, the air from the house and the outside air will have a high moisture content thus introducing more moisture into the basement through the makeup air.

There are signs that you need a Dehumidifier:
•          Window and door condensation.
•          Mold spots on ceiling and walls.
•          Musty smell of odor
•          Recurring spring runoff dampness

What is a dehumidifier and how does on work?
A dehumidifier is essentially a refrigerator that never got the storage area. The basic mechanical function of a dehumidifier is the same as a refrigerator. Compression and expansion of a gas is used to lower the temperature of metal coils to freezing temperatures.

However, instead of the cooling action being directed into a closed box, a dehumidifier is designed to blow warm moist room air over these cold coils. The moisture in the room air condenses on the coils to become liquid water. The water then drips into a drip collection pan, or to a drain. The room air, now freed of much of its moisture, returns to the room slightly warmer than it was.

Dehumidifiers are controlled by a device known as a humidistat. This is an adjustable rotary switch which detects moisture in the room’s air. It automatically turns the dehumidifier on or off as it is needed, based on the setting you choose. If you wish, you can set the dehumidifier to the maximum setting for continuous operation.

The condensed drips go into a pan that will need to be dumped when it is full, in the warmer months this can be several times a day depending on the moisture level in the basement. I recommend making your dehumidifier be self-draining. This can be done by installing a hose to it and running to a drain, set the humidity level and you are good.

If you do not have a floor drain there are a couple solutions:

  • Installing a condensate pump that will pump the water to sewer system
  • Place the unit on a shelf high enough to drain into a sink
  • You could also drain it into a 5-gallon bucket, so you don’t have to dump as often
Do you need to perform maintenance on your dehumidifier?
Yes, there is some maintenance that will be needed. You should check the coils at least seasonally and keep them clear of dust and dirt. If the unit has a removable front cover, there may be a foam filter inside that should also be cleaned.

The purpose of this cleaning is two-fold. First, dust and dirt can insulate the coils from the room air, decreasing the efficiency of the dehumidifier. Secondly, this same dirt will get damp and possibly freeze. Freezing is the most damaging thing that can happen to your dehumidifier because it will run continuously but not dehumidify the air.

Remember that every basement in this area needs a dehumidifier. Dehumidifiers remove moisture from air, improving the usefulness of basements by controlling the dampness and the potential damage to your home and possessions. So, unless you prefer to use your basement mostly for growing mushrooms and designer mildew, there should be a dehumidifier in your future!

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

With the days lengthening and weather warming, spring is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects. Now that the threat of winter storms has passed, you can look for damage and make any needed repairs, as well as prep your home and garden for summer. Here is a lost of helpful tips on what to watch for from proper irrigation to mosquitos and termites.

1. Inspect your roof.

Winter storms can take quite a toll on the roof. When spring arrives, start by making a simple visual inspection of your roof. I recommend to walk your roof to inspect it, but It doesn’t require a ladder. Use binoculars or a camera or smartphone with a telephoto feature if you need to. Look for missing shingles, metal pipes that are damaged or missing or anything that simply doesn’t look right. If you notice anything that needs closer inspection or repair, call a roofer.
2. Clean gutters and downspouts.
After the last frost has passed, it’s important to have your gutters and downspouts cleaned and repaired. ‘Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause the wood trim at the eaves to rot, and that can invite all kinds of critters into your attic space
Having your gutters and downspouts cleaned early in the season can also help prevent damage from spring rains. ‘Gutters and downspouts should be clean and running free. If your downspouts are installed properly, water is diverted away from the house so that no water collects around your foundation. I recommend a minimum of 6 feet.
3. Reseal exterior woodwork.
Wood decks, fences, railings, trellises, pergolas and other outdoor structures will last longer and stay in better condition if they’re stained or resealed every year or two. Take this opportunity to make any needed repairs to woodwork as well.
4. Paint exterior.
If you’re planning to repaint your home’s exterior this year, spring is a good time to set it up.
5. Inspect driveways and paths.
Freezing and thawing is rough on concrete, asphalt and other hardscaping materials. Take a walk around your property to look for damage to walkways, paths and driveways, and schedule repairs as needed. Asphalt can often be patched, but damaged concrete may need to be replaced entirely.
6. Check screen doors and windows.
Screens are designed to let the breeze flow in and keep bugs out – but they can only do their job if they’re free from holes and tears. Before setting up your screens for the warm months ahead, be sure to carefully check each one and repair any holes or tears, no matter how small. You can find screen repair kits at most hardware and home improvement stores.
7. Check sprinkler and irrigation systems.
Checking your sprinklers or irrigation systems in the spring can save water – and save your plants.
Tips for checking your watering system:
  • Run the system through all the zones manually and walk the property.
  • Make sure none of the heads are broken or damaged.
  • Adjust any heads that are spraying the house, especially windows, as this can cause moisture problems.
  • Adjust heads that are spraying the street, sidewalk or porches to avoid wasting water.
 If you don’t know how to maintain your sprinkler system, call a professional to do it. You’ll save money on your water bill and protect one of our most valuable natural resources.

8. Check for signs of termites.

Beginning in March and going through May or June, be on the lookout for these winged insects. ‘Termites swarm in the spring, If there’s a bunch of winged insects flying out of a hole in the woodwork, that’s probably termites. Call a licensed professional pest control company. You’ll save money and trouble in the long run.

9. Prevent mosquitoes.

In recent years, we’ve become more aware of the potential danger mosquitos can pose to our health. West Nile virus and Zika virus are just the latest diseases caused by these winged pests. The best way to prevent mosquitoes around your home is simply by getting rid of any standing water. ‘Walk around your property. If you see anything or any area where water stands, fix it, tip it, get rid of it or maintain it regularly.

10. Schedule air-conditioning service.

I see a lot of air-conditioning systems that are just not taken care of. Just because it gets cool doesn’t mean it’s working efficiently. To get the longest life out of your cooling system and keep it running as efficiently as possible, change the filters at least once each season, and hire a licensed professional to service the equipment before the start of summer.

House Grading

In over 2,400 inspections, I consistently find one defect 95% of the time, negative grading. Negative grading is when the soil around your home is sloped towards your foundation, most foundation and water problems can be directly connected to negative grading causing hydrostatic pressure against the foundation.

Hydrostatic pressure is the water pressure against your foundation, water weighs slightly more than 60 lbs. per cubic foot. If the soil around your foundation is saturated with water, there could be tens of thousands of pounds of hydrostatic pressure against the foundation wall. This makes it likely that water will find its way into your basement, as well as causing foundation problems with cracking or bowing.

Repairing negative grading usually is relatively inexpensive and easy to correct but needs to be done correctly or there may be more harm done than good. But if the the driveway, patio or sidewalk is causing the negative slope the repair will be much higher and may require professional services.

Here are several examples of what I find that looks good as I walk up to the home but upon further investigations may be causing problems:

  • Rock being used for grading
  • Mulch used for grading

Using rock or mulch is deceptive in promoting what looks like a positive or proper grade of soil. Remember mulch and rock sits on top of the ground surface, water will sit in the rock and mulch is to retain moisture, think “giant sponge”. Rock and mulch can be used for cosmetic purposes after the grading is done correctly.

I recommend that homeowners use black dirt to grade 1/2 inch a foot for the first 10 feet away from the foundation or 1 inch a foot for 6 feet away from the foundation to have proper run-off of water away from the foundation. This may require removal of concrete, asphalt, plants or shrubs. After achieving the correct slope you may replant the shrubs or plants.

In the event that your yard will not allow positive drainage, then you may have to dig down and install a swale or French drain to divert the water away from the foundation.

Gutters and downspouts are another extremely important element in water control. Keep gutters clean and downspout extensions in place (6 feet or more). Paint the inside of galvanized gutters, which will extend the life. Shortly after a rain or thaw in winter, look for leaks at seams in the gutters. These can be re-caulked before they cause damage to fascia or soffit boards. If no gutters exist, it is recommended that they be added.

Water is a great force many people underestimate, but causes the most harm to our homes, with a little forethought and planning these problems may be avoided.

My Home Stinks – What Is It and What Can I Do

My Home Stinks – What Is It and What Can I Do

There are times when I am at a home inspection and there is a smell in the home that usually is not strong but persistent and annoying. There are many areas odors can come from and simple maintenance that can repair them to keep your home smelling like you want to live there. I will explain many common smells in the home and what you can do to remedy the annoyance.

I am not talking about animal smells, that is a whole subject on its own

Sewer Odor:

Sewer odor can come from many areas in the home, but here are some common areas to look first

  • Drain traps, if there is a drain that has not been used in while; the water will evaporate and allow sewer gas to enter your home
  • Damaged or broken waste line in the home, this will allow sewer gas to enter and build up in your home
  • Improper venting of the sewer system, this also will allow sewer gas to enter the home

Toilet Smells:

Many times, a bathroom will have a persistent smell of sewer and urine.

  • The wax ring may be bad and leaking, if the toilet rocks or your see moisture around the wax ring, it’s probably bad
  • If the wax ring is bad, the toilet will need to be pulled and the wax ring replaced
  • There is the potential that the toilet is cracked, then the toilet will need replacing
  • Damaged toilet flange, not allowing the toilet to seal correctly
    • This should be performed by a qualified plumber

Sink smells:

If there is a smell noticed around a sink and the trap has been checked and is good, there are several areas to check

  • Check the sewer line for any cracks that would allow sewer gas to escape
  • Check the overflow for any debris and food that may have gotten stuck in it.
  • Food and debris stuck just below the drain lid or under the pull up stopper in the bathroom drain

Garbage Disposal Smells:

Garbage disposals are a common area of odors, because of everything people like to put in them. They are required to be cleaned.

  • First you want to clean the rubber flaps to remove trapped food and don’t forget to get under the flap
  • I recommend running a couple cups of ice with cold water, this will break food particles loose allow the water to wash them down the drain
    • Next put lemon or orange rinds to help remove deposits and give a clean aroma

Dishwasher Smells:

Dishwashers like disposals will require cleaning also. It’s a good idea to clean it monthly. There are several dishwasher cleaners that can be purchased, they work good enough but what I recommend to my clients is:

  • Remove the lower basket and clean out all visible debris, then put the basket back in
  • Put a cup of bleach on the top basket and run a wash cycle
    • DO NOT ALLOW TO GO THOUGH DRY CYCLE
  • Dump the excess left in the cup and pour in a cup of white vinegar and run the dishwasher though a new clean cycling allowing it to go through the dry cycle

Sewer Smell from Hot Water:

Hot water can have a sewer smell if there is bacteria in the water because the hot water will react with the bacteria. Water high in sulfur will give the water a smell like rotten eggs. This is not harmful to drink, but the smell is not pleasant.

  • To help with the bacteria, you can have a professional shock your well
    • Shock chlorination is the process by which home water systems such as wells, springs, and cisterns are disinfected using household liquid bleach (or chlorine). Shock chlorination is NOT a recommended method for treating recurring bacteria problems.
  • A home owner can also install special water filtration systems to remove the bacteria

Fireplace Smoke Smells:

If the home is using a wood burning fireplace, the chimney needs cleaned and inspected annually.

  • Damper needs to be sealed when the fireplace is not in use. When using any vents or dryer in the home it can create a negative pressure pulling air and odors into the home
  • Clean out needs to be sealed also for the same reason above

Performing simple maintenance can help to prevent unwanted odors in your home, making it more comfortable and inviting, for you and your guests.

 

Feiza, Tom. “Help! My House Stinks”. Working RE Home Inspector. Winter 2018: 22-25

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)

C:Documents and SettingsGilbertMy Documentsinfo4b.pdf

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.