July 1995 Edition

Programmable Thermostats

I would like to install a programmable thermostat on my furnace and air conditioner. Are they hard to install and what should I look for when I go shopping?           
According to David Butler, who is an internationally recognized consultant specializing in home automation, a programmable thermostat is one of the smartest home improvement investments you can make. If you take advantage of its many features, a programmable thermostat can pay for itself in less than a year. New, easy-to-use models work with all types of heating and cooling systems, including heat pumps and electric baseboard heat.           
Programmable stats offer three important benefits - energy savings, convenience and improved comfort. No more waking up to a cold house on winter mornings or returning to a stuffy house on summer afternoons. Most models support four temperature settings, with separate schedules for weekdays and weekends. You will also appreciate the solid-state accuracy - usually within one degree.           
Electronic stats offer convenience features not available on mechanical models. Most include a backup clock and automatic switch between heating and cooling - great for days that start out cold and end up hot. Some stats have run-time monitors that track energy usage and remind you to change the filter.           
Installing a four wire thermostat is straightforward; the wiring colors are standardized for easy hookup. All you need is a screwdriver and about 30 minutes. However, heat pump and multistage system owners may need help matching the wires. Thankfully, many companies maintain a toll-free help line.            
Like many other consumer products that have gone digital, early programmable stats frustrated consumers with awkward keypads and cryptic displays. Rather than dig out the instruction book just to adjust the temperature, many people negate potential savings by operating their thermostats in manual mode.           
The latest digital stats are more intuitive to operate. Some models come preprogrammed from the factory, greatly simplifying initial setup. One model boasts 58 preset programs to choose from. You use a two digit code to enter the program that best fits your schedule and temperature preferences. Most models have step-by-step instructions printed on the unit - usually inside a flip out cover.           
One unique thermostat is designed for zoned electric systems such as baseboard heat. It’s unusual because it maintains the temperature according to room occupancy rather than a fixed schedule. You simply set the desired temperature for each of four modes: occupied/dark, occupied/lighted, unoccupied/dark and unoccupied/lighted.           
It may take a little time to get use to using a stat, but when you do, you will love it. Most of the time you will never need to touch it except to increase or decrease the temperature for a temporary period. Anyway you look at it, a programmable thermostat will not only save you money, but it will also make your life a little easier.

 How Do You Check Outlets?

I want to replace my old electrical outlets with the new rectangular ones. Both are grounded so I know it should be okay. My question is how can I tell if I wired them correctly?           
The way most professional inspectors check the outlets is with a 3-wire circuit analyzer. This item simply plugs into theelectrical outlet and has three lights that will tell you if it is wired correctly or what is wrong with the wiring, depending on the combination that lights. If one of the lights flickers on and off, it represents a poor connection of one of the wires. It is very easy to use and comes with complete instructions.


They can be purchased at many home centers such as Home Depot and sell for around $8.00 each. 

 How Do You Clean Electronic Filters?

I just purchased a home and the furnace has an electronic filter. How do you clean it?           
First of all, check to see if the seller left the instruction manual. It should go into detail on how to clean them. Most electronic filters can be cleaned in the dishwasher with normal dishwashing detergent. Just place the filter or filters  on the lower rack with the arrows pointing up. Run the dishwasher thru a full cycle. Let the filters air-dry before reinstalling them.           
Another way is to soak them. Dissolve 1/2 to 3/4 cup dishwasher detergent in hot water. Let the filters soak for about 30 minutes. Rinse with clean water. Soak the filters again in clean hot water for about 15 minutes, then let them air-dry.  

 Okay To Hang A Ceiling Fan?  

We want to add ceiling fans to all of our bedrooms and would like to know if it is okay to hang the fans from the existing ceiling electrical boxes?           
To put it bluntly, “no”. The existing electrical boxes are only designed to carry the weight of light fixtures and not the weight of ceiling fans according to the 1993 National Electrical Code, Sections 370-23(b) and 370-27(c). The plastic boxes, installed in most ceilings, are nailed into the side of the ceiling joist and could pull out under heavy loads.           
If you can access the ceiling joist in the attic, we suggest you remove the plastic box and anchor a 2x4 wood block, between the ceiling joist, with at least two 3” screws per end. Then anchor a metal ceiling box onto the blocking with a minimum of two 1 1/2” wood screws. This will provide a firm foundation for the fan.            
If you cannot access the area, you can purchase a fan brace at most hardware stores. A fan brace comes with an adjustable steel rod that anchors into the ceiling joist. First, remove the plastic electrical box, then insert the fan brace into the hole and adjust the rod until it anchors into the ceiling framing. If these instructions are a little hard to follow, don’t worry, complete step by step instructions comes with the brace.

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.

 Standard Inspection Price List

 Homes/Condos $150,000 And Less: $200.00

Between $150,000 - $250,000: $225.00

Between $250,000 - $350,000: $250.00

Between $350,000 - $450,000: $275.00

Over $450,000 Call For Quote

(Single Family Homes In Metro Atlanta Area/Prices May Vary Due To Age Or Location)

Quote of the Month

“Change is inevitable except for vending machines”

- Unknown

A Tip Of The Hat To:

Linda Sullivan

Buckhead Brokers Realtors

Marietta, Georgia

**** Thank You****