Clear the snow from your Heat Pump
Don’t forget to keep your Heat Pump clear of the snow. Don’t try to clean the unit itself, it has a defrost mode and will clear the Finns. Just dig out around it. Modern Heat Pumps will deliver heat in very cold weather ( down to the single digits) But the unit has to have air flow through the coils. This can not happen with the snow built up around it. Dig out the unit especially around the base so the defrosted water can flow away from the unit so ice doesn’t build up around the base of the unit.
Pic shows unit in defrost mode, notice the water dripping from the unit
Hi All, I got an E-mail from a past client (2015) about a crack in the ceiling, asking if it could be structural. Generally wall cracks are not a sign of structural issues (though a structural issue may very well start the cracking) but of movement in the wood. Wood expands and contracts with moisture, here in Maryland there’s lots of moisture, wetter in the summer and dryer in the winter. This movement in the wood framing puts stress on the wall covering and it’s fasteners. Plaster gets brittle over the years and the wood gets very hard. Some where something is going to give = crack. Having said this, should you observe cracks in a “V” pattern, especially in the corners, this could indicate foundation settlement and should be looked into.
Have you noticed any foul odors in your basement that you just can’t get to the bottom of? It might be sewer gases coming in to your home. Every plumbing fixture needs to be equipped with a trap, which is basically a dip in a pipe that water fills up. This water sitting in the trap is what prevents sewer gases from coming in to your home. The photo below shows a “P-trap” – this is the type of trap you’ll find below sinks, showers, and bathtubs.
A trap is one of the most important items in the plumbing system.
Question – What are (plumbing) Traps all about ?
Answer -They keep the sewer gases out of the home. Not only are these gases unpleasant, they’re unhealthy. All plumbing fixtures have a trap (or they should have one).
Question – How does a trap work?
Answer – The good news is they’re basically very simple. As you can see in the drawing the water in the trap blocks the “bad” air from the sewer from entering the home, and goes up and out to the exterior through the vent. When water goes down the drain the water level in the trap rises and fills the trap keeping the “bad” air from the inside of your home. As more water fills the trap the water level rises over the “weir” and goes down the drain.
There are many different types of traps. The most common and correct is the “P” trap. A “P” trap can be a solvent trap, where all the components of the trap are glued together. These are typically used where there is no access to the trap; e.g. buried in a floor or wall for a shower or clothes washing machine. And there are removable traps for cleaning; these are secured with compression fitting one at the tailpiece and one at the trap arm. Traps get filled with lots of nasties such as hair, soap, grease…etc. Simply remove the trap, flush it out, and reinstall it. When a solvent trap gets clogged it must be cleaned out with a “snake” tool. As this is more difficult and can scratch the finishes of the fixture a removable trap should be used whenever practical.
“S” traps are no longer installed “or shouldn’t be”. When a sink full of water is drained into an “S” trap a syphon is created and will suck all the water out of the trap rendering it useless. Should this happen simply run a little water into the drain to fill the trap. As doing this can get old fast, you may want to have a plumber remedy this.
The shape of the trap is important so as not to continually fill with nasties. A trap should be half round and smooth as in the drawing.
Fixtures that are not in use will also dry out, The water just evaporates! This will happen in 2-4 weeks of non-usage. Capping or plugging them is the best way to seal them off – or just run some water down the drain periodically.
Bottle traps are decorative and are used when the trap will be exposed.
There are many rules in installing a plumbing system. It is far more complicated than water goes down.
Your Home Inspector will identify any defects. Here are some defects – None of these will work!
One of the systems I inspect in the home is the electrical system. Electrical issues can be very serious as they can start a fire and in extreme cases electrocute you. Here is a small example of issues your inspector must catch.
There is some serious corrosion going on here. This is a fire hazard as the electrical flow will be very poor going through this. Should you ask for a lot of juice the wire will heat up. Antioxidant paste is absent on the SEC wire.
This photo shows the SEC (service entrance cable)is undersized. the main breaker will allow 200 ampere into the system before tripping – the wire is only rated for 100 ampere. The wires will heat up like a toaster with the right (wrong) load applied!
These photos show what is known as a shared neutral circuit. The black wire and the red wire each carry an electrical load, witch should be on opposing legs (see photo above). When one leg (L 1 or line 1) is energized the other (L 2 or line 2) is not. The electricity cycles on and off opposingly (alternating current) 60 time a second (60 hertz). The electrical current goes to a device in the black or red wires and returns through the grounded (neutral) white wire.
Here both the black and red wires are on the same leg.These wires are rated for 15 amperes each. 15 for the black, 15 for the red. That is putting 30 amperes on the white wire that is also rated for 15 amperes. Fire hazard.
Double taps are a common defect. This is when 2 (two) conductors are installed under the lug of a single breaker. This is not permitted*. As current passes through the conductor (wire) it heats up, metals expand as they heat up and contract when they cool off – (nothing you or I would notice). When 2 wires are together, they both heat up and expand into each other, copper is a soft metal and will compress and elongate, when they cool and contract there is less metal under the lug. Again, nothing you or I would notice. Repeat this enough times and the wire will become loose under the lug – Yes , I have seen it many times – loose wires have a tendency to arc, arcs have a tendency to start fires. Yes they can start fires in the panel, lots of flammable plastics in there. A double tap before the main disconnect is double trouble, these conductors also have the issue of not being protected from over current and there is no way to de-energize them. There hot – Always (unless the power to the house is disconnected at the meter), having unprotected wires in the building structure is a fire hazard!
The Standard Lug breaker to the left as you can see would require both wires to be under the same area of compression from the lug. The Square D breaker has 2 slots for wires and this is the exception to the rule.
The exception to this rule is if the breaker is rated for 2 conductors, Square D breakers are rated and listed for 2 conductors.