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Nuisance tripping at AFCI circuit breakers

AFCI circuit breakers are specialty safety devices that have been around for well over a decade, and their job is to prevent fires. They get better and better as time goes on, but they're still not a perfect product. The main problem that homeowners experience with AFCI circuit breakers is…

Should home inspectors recommend upgrading to new AFCIs? No.

Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupters are relatively new electrical safety devices that first appeared in the 1999 National Electric Code.  AFCI devices look very similar to GFCI devices, in that they have a test button and a reset method, and they come in the form of circuit breakers, receptacles, or stand-alone devices.  The…

New Electrical Safety Requirement: AFCI Protection for Replacement Outlets

The 2011 National Electric Code has an important little note at the end of section 406.4(D)(4) which just took effect January 1st, 2014.  The exact text from this section is shown below: (4) Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection.  Where a receptacle outlet is supplied by a branch circuit that requires arc-fault ciruit interrupter…

Grounding, Bonding, Shocks, and Electrocution

Today’s episode digs into the topic of electricity. Tessa leads the technical talk about the difference between grounding and bonding: “why we have it,” “what it means, ” and “what it does.” At the same time, Reuben explains the distinction between being electrocuted from being shocked. He also explains the…

Electrical Updates for 2020 with John Williamson, Part 2

For today’s episode, we have John Williamson, Operations Supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, join Structure Talk for a second podcast on electrical updates. The show starts off with John talking about the recent adoption process for the 2020 National Electrical Code. The following topics are covered,…

The C-Word

BO: And so I just wanted to have a general conversation on the episode today, get your opinion, Tessa, get your opinion, Reuben. Home inspectors shouldn't be making a thing about code, period. We are not code officials, we are not code enforcers, we are just people there to give…

Electrical Updates for 2020 (with John Williamson)

John Williamson, Operations Supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, joins Structure Talk to do a deep dive in electricity. The gang covers the following topics, among other things: Is it legal for home inspectors to remove electrical panel covers? What would be the best course of action…

Live Building Code Q&A (with Andy Schreder)

Building official Andy Schreder with Rum River Construction Consultants joins the show for a Q&A session via Facebook Live. There's some great discussion of commonly asked questions, along with some very interesting insight from Andy about why building officials don't always enforce code requirements. The topics include: Permits required for…

Facebook Live Q&A Session #2

For this episode, we answer your questions about houses and home inspections. These include the following: Should home inspectors open Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok panels? How to deal with ice dams if you don't want to pay a professional to remove them How to best find a drain leak with…

Facebook Live Q&A Session #2

For this episode, we answer your questions about houses and home inspections. These include the following: Should home inspectors open Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok panels? How to deal with ice dams if you don't want to pay a professional to remove them How to best find a drain leak with…

Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok panels are hazardous

The most notorious electric panel is the Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok panel, also known as an FPE panel, Federal Pacific panel, or Stab-Lok. All Stab-Lok panels were made by Federal Pacific Electric, and most panels I've found made by Federal Pacific are the Stab-Lok type. In other words, you can…

How to fix double-tapped circuit breakers

Double-tapped circuit breakers are one of the most common electrical defects that home inspectors find. Everyone seems to sign off on this defect as a 'big deal', but I'm here to tell you it's not. It's a pretty minor issue, and it's usually a simple and straightforward fix.  Today I'll…

Hot circuit breakers and dimmer switches

I recently had a home inspector ask me how hot is too hot when it comes to circuit breakers and switches. Many home inspectors, including all of the inspectors here at Structure Tech, use infrared cameras during home inspections. These cameras can't see through walls, but can often alert us…

Negotiations after the inspection

Negotiations often take place after a home inspection, and the home inspector frequently gets put in the middle of it. The role of a home inspector is never to decide what should or shouldn't be negotiated as part of a home purchase, assuming anything gets negotiated. That's a job for the…

Negotiations after the inspection, part 2: Stuff that shouldn’t be negotiated

In last week's blog post, Negotiations after the inspection, part 1: options for the buyer, I discussed four options that a home buyer has after receiving a written inspection report. Cancel the purchase agreement Do nothing Renegotiate price Ask the seller to perform repairs. The first two options are pretty…

Options for repairing ungrounded three-prong outlets

Back in 2009, I wrote a blog post giving some basic information on how to fix ungrounded three-prong outlets.  The information in that post is still mostly applicable today, but there are few nitty-gritty details missing from that post, and there have been a few code changes since I wrote…

47 Home Inspection Issues in Under 3 Minutes, Explained

Last year I put together a short little video compilation showing a bunch of video clips of various defects that we've captured during home inspections.   I've received a lot of requests to explain what all of the items in the video clip are, but a lot of these items…

Why Don’t Home Inspectors Mention Code?

Home inspections are not ‘code’ inspections, and a lot of home inspectors treat the word ‘code’ as taboo.  They call it the ‘C-word’.  I even had one home inspector tell me he’s not allowed to use that word in Kentucky.  This is such a taboo word that I don't use it much…