Warranty Inspections and Settlement Problems

Settlement cracks in a home can be caused by a variety of factors. Some, like a problem with a footer supporting the foundation, can be difficult to diagnosis and repair. Others can be simple to figure out and fix, but equally destructive. We inspected a five year old home in Lewes, Delaware. The buyer was concerned about dry wall cracks over several doors, cracking grout in the kitchen tile and a pantry door that was rubbing on the floor.

 

 

 

 

 

When we went under the home it was quickly apparent what had caused the problem. Shims were used to support the beams on that section of the house. This is a normal practice, used when the support column does not fit precisely under the beam. In this case the framing guys used several very small pieces of wood to support the weight of a 2 story home that is designed to rest on three 2X10”s and masonry block piers. The shims were made of hard wood. Instead of the homes weight crushing the small pieces of hard wood the 3 pine beams settled ¾ of an inch around the shims. This created the issues noticed in what otherwise appeared to be a beautiful well constructed home.

 

 

 

 

 

Small details such as this are prime examples why even homes built buy the best custom builders should have a home inspection prior to settlement, no pun intended. Another warranty inspection should be done before the one year anniversary date.

 

Here is a picture of a proper use of shims. This was in a 40 year old home that has no settlement issues.

Five Good Reasons For a New Construction Inspection

Most builders work hard to provide a quality home for their buyers. In trying times reputation and repeat business are a primary concern. Unfortunately, even the most conscientious builder is only as good as his weakest sub contractor. Municipal inspectors and the builder often miss mistakes that are made at various points in the construction process. While most issues will show up shortly after move in, some will go un detected for years. Moisture issues, disconnected duck work, and missing insulation can raise utility bills and subject you to possible health risk. A thorough home inspection prior to settlement, performed by a licensed home inspector will save you the inconvenience of working around repairs and insure your new home is as safe and snug as you expect it to be.

The Areas of Concern Your High Tech Home Inspector See’s Most Often Are:

1. Crawl Space Issues: Problems in the crawl space can include areas of missing insulation, missing vapor barrier, and disconnected damaged or otherwise improperly installed duct work. Improperly installed dryer vents and HVAC condensate lines as well as plumbing leaks are also very commonly found. We inspected a 6 year old home in Rehoboth DE. this week with a sump pump that had been installed improperly. It had never worked once. In the crawl space issues left undiscovered can fester for years. Moisture issues can lead to bigger problems and any or all of these issues are likely to cost you money at some point, if not on a monthly basis.

Missing insulation in new Bethany Beach Home

2. Drainage and foundation protection: Way to often proper drainage away from the foundation is simply overlooked. Low spots are found that allow water to seep into the basement or crawl space and rain gutters are some time not installed or installed improperly. Crawl space entrances should be above grade or have a well and cover installed. All utility penetrations through the foundation wall should be sealed to prevent ground water penetration. We inspected a new town house in the West Bethany Beach Area and all of the crawl spaces had 6 inches of water because the grade was sloped back to the foundation. The problem was compounded by the decks that had already been installed.

3. Plumbing Issues: While most new construction plumbing issues are minor and easy to fix, such as the time we found hot water coming out of hose bib in a Salisbury area home inspection that is not always the case. Plumbing leaks which damage dry wall or cabinets can be a huge incontinence if not discovered prior to settlement. We inspected a home in Fenwick Island in which the drain pipe was disconnected at the upstairs bath. Fortunately there was ample time for the builder to make repairs prior to settlement.

Moisture damage and bio. growth occurring before occupancy. What would this look like in a few years?

4. HVAC problems: HVAC issues in new construction are often related to duct work and condensate lines. A new home we inspected in West Ocean City MD. had the condensate line for the upstairs air handler dumping on top of the center beams in the house. This was easy to find as the water was running across the beam and seeping down the exterior foundation wall.

Condensate line dripping on center beam in new Ocean City Home

5. Electrical Issues: Loose and improperly grounded outlets are commonly found in new construction. On occasion such as the time we found a damaged main service wire in a brand new Fruitland home the consequences can be more serious and could result in increased power consumption.

Damaged service feed, overlooked during final electrical inspection

House Check service provided by High Tech Home Inspections

Save your self the worry and a trip.  Who better to trust your home or boat with then trained professionals. Our clients have valued our integrity and enlisted our expertise in home inspections and home maintanance for years. What better choice for post storm or regular home checks then a proven, trusted, and insured, full service home inspection company. Our mission is to give you peace of mind while you are away from your residence. If you have a second home in the area that you leave vacant during the winter months, orr are you planning a trip for business or pleasure and would like to have someone check on your house in your absence, High Tech Home Inspections can be “your eyes and ears” while you are out of town. After a storm, or while your away on vacation we will inspect your home and or boat and send you time and date stamped photos. We look for water and moisture damage, wind damage, roof leaks, damaged shingles, structural damage, and much more.

 

After huricane Irene we were out on Sunday checking our clients homes. As soon as traffic was allowed into Ocean City we were beginning our house checks. Fortuantly we did not discover any major damage. A few clients who take advantage of our interior inspection packages did have water penetration issues.  One showed up in a Fenwick Island home through a visual check . There was a roof leak that was causing damage to the dry wall in the laundry room. We used our infrared camera to locate the exact spot of the leak in the attic.

We were quickly able to locate the roof leak during a post Irene house check.

 

A post storm check found this ceiling damage for a client in Fenwick Island

 

In a Ocean City water front home we detected a water leak under a window that was only visible with infrared scanning. The leak was confirmed with moisture testing. Our clients recieved a same day report including photos, a description of the damage and our  suggested course of action. In both cases substantial damage could have occured over time, but with our timely discovery repairs were limited.

 

This moisture could not be observed but was confirmed with a moisture meter

Wind drive rain may have gotten under this bowed siding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If a claim needs to be filed our reports are respected for their accuracy and detail by insurance companies. You can also arrannge to have us securely store photos of your home taken at the time of contract that make it difficult to deny a claim due to previous damage.  Contact us today to enroll in one of our plans or to develop an individualized plan that will meet your expectations and the needs of your property. Plans and pricing details can be found on this web site under the House Check tab at the top of the page .

High Tech Home Inspections- Reliable and Thorough Inspection Services.   

 

Creepy Critters: A Halloween Tribute to Some Frightfully Surprising Inspection Guests

Bat

Home inspectors frequently encounter dangerous animals, birds, reptiles, and insects. Whether it be aggressive raccoons, venemous snakes, poisonous spiders, or, as seen above, a curious bat, the directive is always the same. Do not risk personal injury. Move away slowly and deliberately, continuing your inspection elsewhere.

We chose this time of year to blog about these nuisance critters in honor of the Halloween holiday, but not a month goes by that we don’t receive pictures from the field of many different types of potentially deadly encounters.

The message we’d like to communicate is to always err on the side of safety. We, as inspectors, somewhat expect to encounter these animals, usually in attics, crawlspaces, and on roofs. However, you, the homeowner or real estate agent listing or showing a property, may not. Be very careful when proceeding into unknown territory. Better yet, let us do it for you. We will then bring it to your attention and give you the best advice for handling the situation.

Protect Your Home From Fall Pest Problems

As the cooler weather sets in here on the Eastern Shore, insects and rodents who have been content outside will soon make their way inside in search of the ideal overwintering site.  Some of the more common fall pests on the Eastern Shore include;

Pests can pose problems even in the fall and winter

Some insects such as the Cluster fly, Lady beetle (also known as the lady bug) and Western conifer seed bug are mainly nuisance pests and will invade a home, sometimes in large numbers, in order to avoid the cooler temperatures outside.  Carpenter ants, however, are generally a spring and summer pest but if they’ve already set up nests in your home, will begin to look for food inside rather than outside and can eventually cause damage to your home’s structure over the winter.

Mouse

Mice tend to migrate indoors in the fall in search of warmth, food and shelter.  Mice, and in some areas rats, are also well known for invading homes in search of food, shelter and relief from the cold weather.  Not only is their presence disturbing, it can also be dangerous.  They are constant gnawers and will chew on electrical wires as well as insulation and the internal structure of a building and may even contaminate food with their droppings.

Tips to help prevent pest infestations
As the cooler weather progresses, it is not uncommon to hear noises coming from your walls, attic and basement or to start noticing insects and/or their droppings in different areas of your house.  To avoid encounters with pests this Fall, we’ve highlighted a few tips that may help you prevent insect and rodent infestations.

    • Seal cracks and crevices on the exterior of your home. Openings as small as 1/4 inch will allow mice and other pests to enter.
    • Trim back tree limbs and shrubs away from your home.
    • Keep firewood away from your home and off the ground.
    • Crushed rock around your foundation creates an uneven surface that may deter insects.

 

It’s Time For Your Fall Home Inspection

As we enter the fall season, it’s time again to give your house a good inspection and get it ready for winter. We have included a home inspection checklist for your reference.  You can also have a qualified home inspector do the inspection for you.

Fall home

EXTERIOR

❏ Check for cracks in asphalt or concrete on driveway, sidewalks, and paths. These can be a tripping

hazard, and can invite water that will do more damage during the colder months.

❏ Make sure retaining walls have no bulges or loose areas. One heavy rain or snowfall, and you could have

a mud slide on your hands. Make sure the weep holes built into the wall are clear.

❏ Examine porches and decks for sagging ceilings, loose rails or boards, and damaged steps. Check to

make sure the posts are still firmly in the ground and not loose, or worse yet, rotted completely out of the

footing.

❏ Give fences and stone walls-and their gates-a once-over for leaning and loose parts, which could fall or

blow off during a storm.

❏ Look for stains on the siding, which could be a sign of a water problem or a roof issue

❏ Look for signs of insect or bird nests in soffits, eaves, or attic vents. If you see signs of animal waste in a

certain area, look around for the possible nest or culprit.

❏ Take note of where paint is peeling, brick mortar is missing, or stucco is cracking on the house’s siding.

❏ Look for leaning on the chimney. Check that the flashing is in good condition, and not peeling up or

missing.

❏ Check gutters and downspouts for debris or improper pitch, especially during a rain storm. Look for

stains on the soffit, which could be a sign of a leak.

❏ Examine the foundation for cracks and bulges.

❏ Take a look at the sill, checking for rot and insects. Look for raised mud channels, which indicates the

presence of termites. Use a sharp knife or other probe to see how much the wood gives.

❏ Make sure the grade of the ground around the foundation slopes away from the house.

❏ Look at the roofing. Are there cracks, missing shingles, crumbling pieces? Check asphalt for dry,

blistering, alligatoring, or curling shingles; wood for rot and splits; slate and tile for broken pieces; and flat

roofs for holes. Be especially vigilant under trees, where falling branches or jumping animals could have

done damage. Once the leaves have fallen, look more closely at where branches touch the house.

❏ Examine the flashing and vent/chimney caps for missing or damaged parts. Look for rust.

❏ Look for moss and other debris on the roof.

PLUMBING, including BATHROOMS and LAUNDRY

❏ Look for signs of leaks in all exposed pipes, and in areas where pipes run through the walls or

foundation.

❏ Look for signs of corrosion, which could indicate a problem with the water, or with the pipe itself. Watch

for green stains around brass and copper fittings and on shutoff valves, a sign of either corrosion or

electrolysis caused by mismatched metals. This will cause leaks and bad connections if left uncorrected.

❏ Check the water pressure. Low pressure could mean a problem with the line or just sediment buildup in

the faucet aerator or shower head.

❏ Check drains for speed of drainage – a slow drain may have a clog or a blocked vent pipe. Look for a full

swirling drain; bubbling drains are a sign of a problem.

❏ Flush the toilets to make sure they operate properly. Open their tanks and look for worn or missing

parts. Then wait around for a few minutes to see if the toilet runs after a pause, a sign of a slow leak.

❏ Look inside the burner chamber of the water heater for rust flakes. Check the flame; it should be an even

blue, with no yellow. A yellow flame indicates soot or a problem with the gas-air mixture, meaning the jets

need cleaning.

❏ Drain the water heater to remove sediment that has settled to the bottom. Sometimes leaks in faucets

are caused by hard water wearing out the washers.

❏ Watch out for cracked tiles in the shower area or around sinks. Tap on tiles looking for loose or hollow

ones, which could be masking rotted backerboard behind them.

❏ Check on the state of the tub and shower caulking to see if its time to replace it.

❏ Look for evidence of mildew where water has a chance to stand for longer periods

❏ Manipulate the toilet base to be sure it doesn’t rock, which might mean a leak has damaged the floor

around it.

❏ Look for cracks on the toilet tank or bowl or on sinks

❏ Slide shower doors do check for sticking, rust, or obstructions. Examine the gaskets around the door

glass for gaps and tears.

❏ Turn on the shower and bath faucets and check for leaks around handles and valves. Are they easy to

use, or harder to turn on and off? Check set screws around escutcheon plates.

❏ Unscrew the shower head and look for collected sediment in it that could be lowering the water pressure.

❏ Examine vent fans for obstructions or dust. Turn them on: If it sounds really loud, the bearings may be

worn out or a flapper may have gotten stuck.

❏ Check washer hoses for signs of aging (cracks or brittleness) or leaks.

❏ Check dryer vents for tears. Vacuum or brush out lint in hose and around lint screen inside unit. Look

for link around the floor or on the wall, indicating a clog in the vent hose.

WATER and SEPTIC

❏ Send out a sample of well water to your country cooperative extension to test it for chemicals and

bacteria.

❏ Make sure that the well cover is tightly sealed but there is still access to the pump.

❏ Check the sump pump by pouring water on it, to see if it turns on automatically.

❏ Look around your septic tank/field for soggy ground or overly lush vegetation, which could mean the

tank is full or failing.

HEATING

❏ Take a flashlight into the furnace flue and look for a buildup of soot or rust. Tap on it to see what falls;

rust is a sign of condensation, which is cause by an inefficient furnace. Have a pro service the system

regardless of what you find.

❏ Make a solution of dishwashing soap and water, then brush it on ductwork joints-wherever there are

leaks you’ll see bubbles in the soap.

❏ Check registers and vents for loose or missing covers and screws.

❏ Check around radiators for leaks, or damaged floors, which could be a sign of a leak or an incorrect pitch

toward the return.

❏ Look for overall deterioration, rust, loose parts, and other signs of a failing system.

ELECTRICAL

❏ Check trees around the house to be sure they’re not threatening wires.

❏ Open the panel and look for new scorch marks around breakers or fuses. Also check outlets for scorch

marks, which could be a sign of loose and sparking wires.

❏ Look for loose outlet covers, receptacles, and loose boxes, which may have to be refastened to the studs

while the power is turned off.

❏ Test all GFCI outlets by plugging in a lamp and then hitting the test and reset buttons to see if it turns the

light off and then on again.

❏ Go around with a electrical tester (or lamp) to make sure all outlets work

INTERIOR

❏ Now that summer’s humidity is gone, check doors for swollen spots and sticking.

❏ Look for loose hinges and doorknobs.

❏ Check the floor for popped nails, loose boards, loose tiles, and springy spots that could be a sign of joist

trouble.

❏ Look at ceilings for stains, which could indicate a roof or plumbing leak.

❏ Make sure ceilings and floors aren’t sagging or cracked in new places, which might mean a bigger

problem causing a shift in the house. Look above doors for cracks.

❏ Check walls for popped screws and nails on drywall or new cracks in plaster.

❏ Point a flashlight into the fireplace and up the chimney, checking for loose bricks, cracks, signs of

animal nests, or excess soot that could spark a chimney fire.

❏ Make sure the damper operates properly.

❏ Check around ceiling fans to be sure they’re well secured to the ceiling and not working their way loose

with all the summer use.

❏ Jiggle the stair balustrade to test its sturdiness, and take note where balusters and banisters have come

loose.

❏ Test all smoke and CO2 detectors and replace batteries immediately if something doesn’t work.

DOORS AND WINDOWS

❏ Examine weatherstripping around exterior doors and windows for tears and wear.

❏ Look for cracks in window glass and glazing around panes.

❏ Check the action of the windows for sticking points.

❏ Look for peeling paint and other signs of wear on window frames and stools, usually in the bottom

corners. Check that weep holes in the sill outside haven’t been caulked over, inhibiting drainage.

❏ Take a look at thresholds for cracks that could let water reach the sill.

ATTIC

❏ Look around the attic space during daylight hours, with the lights turned off. Look for holes in the

roofing that let light in.

❏ Keep an eye out for signs of animal activity or entry points for animals.

❏ Check around vents for gaps. Look at fan motors for frayed wiring or loose screws.

❏ Feel around insulation for damp spots where leaks might be occurring. Look for missing or torn

insulation, which could be a sign of animal activity.

❏ Examine joists and rafters for structural damage.

GARAGE

❏ Check the action of the garage door and look for dents in the tracks or cracks in the door.

❏ Make sure tool storage and hanging rakes and shovels don’t create a falling or tripping hazard.

KITCHEN

❏ Test the drainage of the sink and look for signs of leaks on the faucet.

❏ Look at all the cabinet doors and drawers to make sure they open and close properly. Check for loose

hinges or sticking drawer slides.

❏ Turn on the disposer and listen for signs of obstructions or problems with the motor.

❏ Try all the stove burners to be sure they turn on quickly and properly, without sparking or bursts of

flame. Make sure gas stoves give off an even blue flame.

❏ Check the oven door gasket for signs of wear and tear.

❏ Turn on a gas broiler to make sure it lights properly.

❏ Make sure the gas shutoff valve is working. It should be able to turn until its completely perpendicular to

the pipe.

❏ Open the dishwasher and spin and lift the washer arm by hand to make sure it isn’t stuck. Check that

nothing has dislodged the drain hose; it should arc up to prevent backwash from the drain into the

dishwasher.

❏ Look for signs of leaking under and around the dishwasher.

❏ Make sure water filters have been changed recently.

 

Eastern Shore Septic Inspections

      When buying a home, or having trouble with your septic system, a good septic inspector can save you thousands of dollars, and lots of headaches.  There are few problems found by a home inspector that will cost as much as a new septic system.   Therefore  when buying or preparing to sell a home that has a septic system a thorough septic inspection should be at the top of your priority list.  

 

 

Distribution box
Without digging up the distribution box as part of the inspection the buyer would have never known how poorly this Wicomico County septic system was working. The sellers paid more the $15,000 dollars to replace the system.

 

   

           There is a vast difference between what is required by Maryland, Delaware and Virginia as part of a septic inspection.  Delaware requires licensing, testing and ongoing continuing education for septic inspectors. A standardized septic inspection format is used, along with a required report, which must be filed with the state. Maryland septic inspectors are required to be certified by the state but beyond that there are no standards or inspection guidelines. Virginia has no licensing or inspection requirements for septic inspectors at this time.  These differant standards between jurisdictions result in a wide variety of inspection services being offered on the Eastern Shore.

         Some inspectors offer dye testing or tank pumping as “all you need to know about your septic system”. Unfortunately these approaches are woefully inadequate. They leave all parties un informed as to the true working condition of the septic system and, given the replacement cost of a new septic tank or drain field,  possibly in a financialnightmare. In our next septic blog we will be describing the steps invovled in a thorough septic inspection.                                                                                          

This drain line was open to the surface at the rear of the property

 

                When designing new or replacement septic systems, most state and local governments require higher standards, and perhaps the use of more environmentally friendly components,  then they did just a few years ago.  At the Del. Tech training facility in George Town inspectors and industry professionals can view dozens of the latest types of septic tanks, distribution boxes, pump stations and drain field designs.  These advances, are working to protect our water sheds and drinking water.  At a Salisbury University seminar presented by several soil scientist with the University of Maryland an interesting fact that has stuck with me is, ground water in the soil types typically found on the Eastern Shore travels as much as 3-5 ft per day. When you think about the nitrates, other nutrients, and possible contaminants emitted by a septic system there is little wonder governments across the shore are moving to increase the quality of septic systems. The following link provides more data on ground water on Delmarva   http://extension.umd.edu/publications/PDFs/HW3.pdf

                With the requirements for septic systems surly to continue to rise it becomes very important to make sure you are not buying a failing system that may cost you tens of thousands of dollars to replace.  When you choose a septic inspector make sure you are getting the best possible inspection. Ask about your inspectors credentials and experience. Ask if they belong to any professional organizations and if these organizations have standards and guidelines for their inspectors to follow.  Follow along with our upcoming series of blogs to learn the steps that should be included in a thorough septic inspection. We will also share operating and maintenance tips to help healthy septic systems last longer and some simple ideas to help  struggling systems.                     

                               

Post Hurricane Irene Home Inspections

 
What a week we have had here on the Eastern Shore, an earthquake and a major hurricane all in the same week!  In an attempt to help residents of Ocean City, Fenwick Island, Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach return home after being evacuated due to Hurricane Irene, we have included some information from the Red Cross’ website on returning home after a hurricane.
 
 
 
Returning Home After a Hurricane or Flood
 
Preparing to return home after evacuating will keep you safer while inspecting and cleaning up the damage to your home. Before traveling, ensure local officials have declared that it’s safe to enter your community and that you have the supplies you will need. Follow the suggestions below for returning to, inspecting and cleaning your home.
 
Before returning
 
     

  • Find out if it is safe to enter your community or neighborhood. Follow the advice of your local authorities.
  •  
  • Carry plenty of cash. ATMs may not work and stores may not be able to accept credit or debit cards.
  •  
  • Bring supplies such as flashlights, batteries, bottled water and non­perishable foods in case utilities are out.
  •  
  • Create back­up communication plans with family and friends in case you are unable to call from affected areas.
  •  
  • Plan for delays when traveling. Bring extra food, water, pillows, blankets and other items that will make the trip more comfortable. Keep the fuel tank of your vehicle as full as possible in case gas stations are crowded, out of fuel or closed.
  •  
  • Carry a map to help you route around heavy traffic or impassable roads.
  •  
  • Find out if local medical facilities are open and if emergency services are functioning again. Do NOT call 9­1­1 or the local emergency number to do this.
  •  
  • Understand that recovery takes time. Focus on the positive and have patience. Others will have similar frustrations.
  •  
 
First inspection
 
     

  • If possible, leave children and pets with a relative or friend. If not, keep them away from hazards and floodwater.
  •  
  • Beware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around your home.
  •  
  • Before entering your home, look outside for damaged power lines, gas lines, foundation cracks and other exterior damage. It may be too dangerous to enter the home.
  •  
  • If you smell natural gas or propane, or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and contact the fire department.
  •  
  • If your home was flooded, assume it is contaminated with mold. Mold increases health risks for those with asthma, allergies or other breathing conditions.
  •  
  • Open doors and windows. If the house was closed more than 48 hours, let it air it out before staying inside for any length of time.
  •  
  • Turn the main electrical power and water systems off until you or a professional can ensure that they are safe. NEVER turn the power on or off, or use an electrical tool or appliance while standing in water.
  •  
  • Check the ceiling and floor for signs of sagging. Water may be trapped in the ceiling or floors may be unsafe to walk on.
  •  
 
* Consider hiring a professional post hurricane home inspector to do this inspection for you.  Contact High Tech Home Inspections as this is a service that we provide.  We will help you make sure that your home is safe and if needed, we can provide a written report that you can share with your insurance company to make sure that any necessary repairs can be taken care of quickly.
 

The Importance of Surge Protectors

Lightening strikes

 

In recent years, the average American household has become more dependent on modern technology to maintain its standard of living. If you look around your home, you will notice that it is filled with new pieces of equipment that did not exist 5 or 10 years ago. All of this equipment brings with it a whole new set of problems that some of us never even thought of. What would happen if one day all of your appliances ceased to exist? I’m not talking about any far-fetched conspiracy: I am referring to the possibility that your home’s electrical system could be affected by a power surge.

Think about it: How much money is attached to your electrical system? How awful would it be if you did not have or needed to replace every piece of electrical equipment in your entire home? The average home gets hit with over 20 energy spikes per day. These spikes reduce the life of your appliances and electronics up to 30 percent.

If you owned one of the 30 million homes that got struck by lightening last year, you would understand how much you depend on your electrical devices throughout the day. A lightening strike could damage not only your computer and your television, but you could also lose your refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave. Your HVAC system runs on electricity, so it is also at risk. It only takes one summer storm to wipe out your air conditioning. Think about how many summer storms we have in Ocean City, Bethany Beach, Rehoboth Beach or any of our resort areas. The odds certainly are stacked against us. The worst part is that many homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover lightening strikes. With the amount of money you would spend replacing all of that equipment, you could fly to a tropical island and spend a month drinking pina coladas!

Surge Sources
Surge protection should be addressed in two different ways, because all surges are not the same. Some start outside and work their way in. Others start from within the house itself. The two types of protection are whole-house surge protection and point-of-use surge protection.

Electrical surges coming from the outside of the home tend to be caused by things like lightening strikes and broken utility lines. These types of surges are less common than internal surges, but are more devastating to your home’s electrical system. Surges coming into your home from the main grid will not only destroy your sensitive electronics, but may also destroy all of your major appliances and damage the wiring in your walls as well. Make sure your home inspector checks the wiring and panel box in your home for possible damage. We found a damaged service wire in the panel box of brand new Salisbury home. Lightning was the most likly culperate.

Internal surges are generated from within the home. They make up about 70 percent of the power surges that a normal home confronts. They are usually not as devastating as surges coming from outside, but they will harm your home’s vulnerable electronics, such as televisions, computers and stereo equipment. The main cause of an internal surge is a sudden demand on the home’s electrical system. You may have noticed the lights dimming when the compressor in your refrigerator or air conditioner kicks on. This is the textbook definition of an internal surge.

Surge Protection Variables
There are three main ways that surge protectors should be judged: clamp level (when), surge strength (how much), and response time (how fast).

Clamp level refers to the voltage level that causes the surge protector to activate. In a whole-house protector, you should look for a clamp level of around 150 volts. For point-of-use, the clamp level should be an even lower 130 volts, because they are designed to protect the smaller, more sensitive electronics in your home.

Surge strength is the point at which the device fails or sacrifices itself. This is measured in amps of surge. You want the whole-house surge protector to be rated around 150,000 amps. A point-of-use surge protector can be a lesser 100,000 amps, because less power travels to specific points.

Response time refers to the amount of time it takes for a surge protector to activate after a spike has been detected. Quality devices activate so quickly that they are measured in nanoseconds! Point-of-use protectors need to be even quicker to protect at-risk electronics.

True surge protection should be handled by a professional electrician. Consumer-grade devices sold in most electronic stores are rated in joules. A joule is a measure of energy and is not a good standard of surge protection. The Institute of Electrical Engineers (IEEE) has published a warning that addresses joules as a measurement in surge protectors in IEEE C62, 33-1982, section 6.1. The warning states, “Users should be aware that energy rating (joule) does not necessarily mean a lower capability of survival.”

Do some Internet research. Talk to your neighbors. Call your electrician. If you own a home, you should seek out additional information about surge protection. Think of a beach holiday without your dishwasher, an August night in Salisbury without your air conditioner, a lazy Sunday without your television, a Monday morning without your coffee maker… Feeling a little uneasy?

Salisbury Md. home with scorched and damaged service wire found during a home inspection. Likely cause a suspected power surge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Source of article – networx.com.

A Winning Light Bulb With the Potential to Save the Nation Billions

This a good news for all of us!  A light bulb with the potential to save the nation billions.  It could be available as soon as 2012.  So whether your are changing your home or resort home’s light bulbs, make sure you look for the most energy efficient light bulb available.

Energy Saving Light Bulb

This 10-watt alternative LED bulb (which glows white when turned on) could save the nation about 35 terawatt-hours of electricity or $3.9 billion in one year and avoid 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions if every 60-watt incandescent bulb in the U.S. was replaced with the L Prize winner. | Photo Courtesy of Philips Lighting North America

Thomas Edison would be amazed. The conventional light bulb has got some serious competition.

The 60-watt incandescent light bulb — an estimated 425 million of which are sold each year — has been technologically stunted for nearly a century. But an electrifying energy-saving alternative, which could arrive in stores as soon as early 2012, has emerged that could save the nation billions of dollars annually.

I’m referring to a revolutionary 10-watt light emitting diode (LED) bulb developed by Philips Lighting North America — the first winner of the Energy Department’s Bright Tomorrow Lighting Prize (L Prize). The L Prize challenged the lighting industry to develop high performance, energy-saving replacements for conventional light bulbs that will save American consumers and businesses money.

“The L Prize challenges the best and brightest minds in the U.S. lighting industry to make the technological leaps forward that can greatly reduce the money we spend to light our homes and businesses each year,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “Not only does the L Prize challenge innovative companies like Philips to make LED technology even more energy efficient, it also spurs the lighting industry to make LEDs affordable for American families.”

The L Prize targeted the 60-watt bulb because it is one of the most commonly used types of light bulbs — and could use a substantial upgrade. As the first winner of the L Prize, this 10-watt alternative could save the nation about 35 terawatt-hours of electricity or $3.9 billion in one year and avoid 20 million metric tons of carbon emissions if every 60-watt incandescent bulb in the U.S. was replaced with the L Prize winner.

“We looked at the L Prize challenge as an opportunity to innovate and develop an energy efficient alternative to a product that has remained largely unchanged for over a century,” said Zia Eftekhar, CEO of Philips Lighting North America. The Philips LED bulb was successfully completed after 18 months of intensive field, lab and product testing to meet the rigorous requirements of the L Prize.

And the LED bulb passed the test, including having a useful lifetime of more than 25,000 hours (compared to 1,000 to 3,000 of a 60-watt incandescent bulb) and a series of stress tests in extreme conditions such as high and low temperatures, humidity, vibration, high and low voltage, and various electrical waveform distortions.

As the winner, Philips will receive a $10 million cash prize as well as L Prize partner promotions and incentives. To date, 31 utilities and energy efficiency program partners stand ready to promote and develop markets for the winning product.

Article courtesy of energy.gov.