September 2007 Edition 

Dangerous GFCIs

We have heard of defective ground fault circuit interrupter electrical receptacles. How do you tell if one is defective?   

By detecting dangerous current flow and instantly shutting off power, ground fault circuit interrupters save hundreds of lives each year. But after 10 years or so, the sensitive circuitry inside a GFCI wears out. And usually the test button on the GFCI doesn’t tell you there’s anything wrong. When you press the button, it shuts off the power as always. So the only reliable way to check an older GFCI is to use a circuit tester that has its own GFCI test button ($10 at home centers and hardware stores).

Tester

Plug in the tester and push its test button. If the power goes off, the GFCI is working. Press the reset button to restore power. If the power doesn’t go off, replace the GFCI.  

Your new GFCI ($9) will never require a circuit tester. All GFCIs man­ufactured after mid-2006 are designed to tell you when they fail. The vast majority indicate failure by shutting off power permanently. So someday your GFCI (and any other outlets con­nected to it) will simply stop delivering power, and you’ll have to replace it. 

Source: The Family Handyman February 2007 


Water Heater Maintenance

How often do you replace a water heater anode, and how do you get to it?           

Most water heater tanks are steel with a thin glass lining to pro­tect the metal from corrosion. Since the lining eventually cracks, tanks have a second line of defense against rust: a long metal “anode rod” that attracts cor­rosive elements in the water.

Water Heater

When the rod itself becomes so corroded that it can no longer do its job, the tank soon rusts out, leaks and needs replacement. However, if you replace your anode rod before it fails, about every five years, you can double the life of your water heater.           

Rods are made from magnesium, alu­minum or aluminum/zinc alloy. Alumi­num replacement rods cost about $30 each at home centers. In most cases, the hexag­onal head of the rod is visible on the top of the water heater. If you don’t see the hex head, check your owner’s manual. The rod may be under the water heater’s sheetmetal top or connected to the hot water outlet nipple. (A few newer plastic-lined tanks have no anode rods to replace.)           

Before you get started, close the shutoff valve, turn on the hot water at a faucet to relieve pressure, and turn off the electrici­ty or gas to the heater. Open the drain valve near the bottom of the tank and drain out about 2 gallons of water. Caution: The water is hot!           

If the hex head is set below the top of the heater, you’ll need a 1-1/16 inch socket to reach it. If it protrudes above the top, you can use any type of wrench. Chances are your old anode rod will be frozen in place by corrosion. Douse the head with a spray lubricant such as WD-40 and give it a few minutes to penetrate. You may also have to slip a “cheater” pipe over the wrench handle to increase your torque. The weight of the water in the tank is usu­ally enough to keep the entire heater from turning. But if it begins to move, have a helper (or two) hold it in place.           

When the threads break free, stop turn­ing and look for water around the hex head. If you see leakage, drain the tank further. If you don’t have enough over­head clearance to pull the rod out of the tank, bend it as you remove it. Then when you buy a new rod, choose a flexible, “seg­mented” version. Smear Teflon pipe thread sealant on the threads of the new rod before you install it. Don’t use tape since it can reduce the effectiveness of the rod. Before you turn on the water and electricity or gas, drain another gallon out of the tank to flush out any remaining debris.

Source: The Family Handyman September 2006


 

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com. We reserve the right to edit questions for length.


Home Tips Available By Email

Due To The Increase In Distribution Cost, We Will Be Discontinuing The Delivery Of Home Tips To Your Office At The End Of This Year. To Receive Them By Email, Just Drop Us A Note At: RodHarrison@ChristianBuildingInspectors.com.


 Southeastern Home Inspectors

Conference 2007 - The Gwinnett Center Friday September 14, 2007

Realtor Seminars 6 Hours G.R.E.C.

Continuing Education Credits

Cost: $75.00 Lunch Included

 www.sehomeinspectorconference.com


 
 

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Eleatra Jernigan

Gold Key Brokers Inc.

4153-C Flat Shoals Pkwy., Suite 322

Decatur, Georgia 30034

**** Thank You****