Giving you the information you need to improve the safety, comfort and value of your living space. .

What are you Plugged into? GFCI and AFCI explained

GFCI

GFCI Receptacle

Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) are usually found on receptacles (aka plugs) in your walls near sinks and on exterior walls of newer houses.

Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) are usually found in electrical panels on the breakers for bedroom receptacles of new houses.

AFCI

AFCI breaker in panel

Sometimes a GFCI will be installed at the panel and sometimes an AFCI will be installed at the receptacle, but this is less common.

GFCI’s detect leaky current.  If the current  going out from the panel is not the same as what is coming back to the electrical panel; say it is being diverted elsewhere (shorting) through water, or your body, the device will shut the power off very quickly to protect you from shock.

AFCI’s detect arcing.  Say there is some frayed wire and the current is still going through but making a spark across the gap.   The device will trip off, protecting against electrical fires.

Years ago, these features didn’t exist, hence many houses do not have all the latest receptacles.  The electrical code is frequently changing, and so the requirements for AFCI’s and GFCI’s have been evolving.

There are many ways to upgrade to GFCI and AFCI protected receptacles; consult a licensed electrician.    The electrician can use my home inspection report as a reference to save time in finding what to fix or upgrade to make your home safer.   This is where my home inspection report will save you money.

As a homeowner, test your GFCI and AFCI circuits monthly, and here’s how you do it:

1.  PRESS the TEST button,

2.  Check to see the receptacle has no power (ie plug in a nightlight)

3A.  For receptacles with test buttons – PRESS the RESET button

3B .  For AFCI breaker in panel – push the breaker all the way OFF first, then back ON.

4.  Check to see the receptacle has power.

If it doesn’t respond correctly, the unit has failed and would not likely have protected you in case of a problem.   Have it replaced by an electrician.

You can find certificed electricans at ESA’s website:  http://applications.dmtispatial.com/esa/

Check for KITEC in your water supply piping

WHAT IS IT?

A type of plastic water supply pipe sold by IPEX between 1995 – 2007 was installed in many new houses around that time.     As it turns out, many brass connection fittings on this pipe have been found to be defective, causing leaks and damages.

The piping is made of an aluminum liner for strength, sandwiched between 2 layers of PEX (Polyethylene cross linked).   The defective fittings had too much zinc, causing dezincification corrosion which deposits zinc oxide in the piping.   The corrosion degrades the fittings and the deposits create blockages, which can cause the pipe to burst.

CHECK FOR IT

KITEC piping

KITEC piping

Check your water piping, typically visible in the basement above the water heater, and look for the characteristic orange hot water pipe and blue cold pipe. Note, there are many types of plastic piping now being installed in houses, with various colours and labels, so you also need to check the lettering on the pipe and fittings.

Kitec pipe is usually marked with one of the following brand names; Kitec, PlumbBetter, IPEX AQUA, WarmRite, Kitec XPA, AmbioComfort, XPA, KERR Controls or Plomberie Améliorée. The terms CSA B137.9/10 or ATSM F1974 could also indicate that you have a Kitec system. Look for the words Kitec or KTC on the metal fittings where the pipes are joined.  You may also see corrosion (ie. a white deposit)  on the fittings.   If you find one of these tell tale labels, call a plumber experienced in evaluating Kitec systems for an expert assessment.

If you have defective Kitec fittings, you can take your chances and hope it doesn’t leak or you can replace the piping system with copper or other recommended piping.   If you choose to keep the Kitec piping, it’s a good idea to register in the class action lawsuit, because if you have damages, then you can make a claim.

See the information at  www.kitecsettlement.com