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

 

LED lights take the load off!

LED LIGHTS FOR HOMES

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Globe style LED bulb

Many older houses haven’t had the electrical system updated in 30+ years, and have fewer circuits than newer homes.  How can LED’s help you be safer with older wiring? Here’s what’s happening – We are  now using more lighting fixtures than just the older floor and desk lamps, or 2-bulb ceiling fixtures from days gone by. Today’s families have a million things to plug in, and  we love pot lights everywhere.  

Older electrical systems have fewer circuits. A circuit includes all the things that are connected to one breaker or fuse. Some circuits may have only 1 or 2 items on them, like a dryer, or furnace, but others may have many more, like a whole series of plugs (aka receptacles) and lights. The average homeowner has no idea how many plugs and lights are connected to each breaker or fuse in the panel. (Your electrical panel directory can help – if it’s properly labelled).

With the addition of power bars which multiply how many things you can plug into one wall receptacle, it quickly adds up. If many things are turned on at once, the load is high. If the load is too high, the breaker or fuse may shut off, which means it’s doing it’s job.   OR worse, FAIL to do it’s job and NOT shut off, in which case you have a very hot wire in your wall which can become a fire hazard.

LED Lights draw less power
You can reduce this load and heat by switching to LED bulbs. For instance the equivalent to a 60 Watt Incandescent bulb (the kind we’ve been using for decades), is a mere 7 Watt LED bulb. LED’s use only about 10 – 20% the amount of power that the incandescent draws and generate much less heat. The heat from an incandescent or halogen style bulb can get so hot that it will deteriorate materials around it, and be dangerous if installed improperly, especially in pot lights which are very enclosed with little air circulation to disperse the heat.

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CFL bulb

Generally CFL bulbs have taken over from incandescent. While CFL’s save power (ie. a 15 Watt CFL bulb could replace a 60 Watt incandescent) , these bulbs have mercury in them, hence require careful handling and special disposal. CFL’s are also susceptible to temperature and humidity, and don’t like being installed upside down. CFL’s last about 8 times as long as incandescents, but LED’s last about 40x as long.

More advantages of LED’s
LED’s work cooler, last longer and use less power than CFL’s. While early selection was limited, now you can get them in many styles, including cool and warm colours of light, dimmable, spot lights and diffuse lights, and varieties to also replace halogen bulbs, such as you see in track lighting. The warm or cool colour varieties of the bulbs can significantly change the colour and feel of your room. Next time you are in the hardware store, take a look at the LED selection.

LED combined bulb

LED combined bulb

Are you moving into a different house?
When new owners move in, often their power usage patterns will be different. Circuits may see more demand than previously. If you switch to LED’s, your older, hard working wiring may breathe a sigh of relief.

FIND OUT WHAT NEEDS ATTENTION IN YOUR ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
With older wiring systems there are often a number of mostly smaller fixes that need to be done.   This is where the value of a Meticulous home inspection report comes in; I find a bunch of electrical items in my home inspection,  then I recommend the client call an electrician to address the list and have them look at the electrical panel while they are there.  That’s one service call for  electrician, then  your home is much safer.

Call today to learn more about how Meticulous Inspections can help you take care of your place! 647-287-1962