Interesting find at a recent inspection. The armored conduit for the electric water heater was just a bit short during installation. Rather than obtaining a longer piece, the installer decided to substitute duct tape to cover the gap. Though it is the same color as the conduit, duct tape does not provide the same benefits as an appropriate length of armored conduit. This is a potential safety hazard for shock and needs to be repaired. Standard building practices call for the power supply wires to be protected with BX armored conduit all the way to the top of the tank to prevent damage. Duct tape is not listed in the building code as an option.
What is an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter? I often get this question at newer homes when we take a look at the circuit breakers in the service panel (fuse box). AFCI protection is a newer requirement of the National Electrical Code. Initial implementation for some new construction occurred in 1999. The 2017 NEC requires AFCI protection in almost all branch circuits in new construction and when replacing older receptacles/outlets during remodeling.
Most people are familiar with a GFCI protected circuit. GFCI outlets protect people from shock hazards. AFCI protected circuits protect the whole branch circuit from conditions that could result in a fire. The outlets in protected branch circuits look the same, the protection comes from the AFCI breaker in the service panel/fuse box.
As the NEC continues to evolve, more rooms and branch circuits will be required to have AFCI protection. As of 1 SEP 2017, Washington State adopted the 2017 version of the NEC. Almost all circuits in a newly constructed house will be required to have AFCI protection. If you are remodeling a room or even changing a receptacle, the NEC requires that branch circuit to be upgraded to AFCI protection at the service panel. AFCI breakers need a specific type of installation, it's not as simple as swapping out an older style non AFCI breaker. AFCI breakers are best installed by an electrician to ensure proper operation and that they are actually protecting the circuit.
Great overview of Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter outlets.
Need to update your light fixtures from those boring contractor grade lights? Considering upgrading to a ceiling fan in a room? Follow along below for a step by step guide on removing an existing light fixture. If you are not comfortable working with electrical circuits consider hiring a professional for any upgrades or changes to your fixtures.
Turn off the power to the light fixture circuit at the main electrical panel (fuse box).
Remove the light cover. Remove the bulbs from the fixture.
Find the two machine screws holding the fixture to the junction box. They may be hidden under some insulation. Back the screws out about an inch. Rotate the fixture so the screws move in the slots to the point where the cutout allows the screw heads to slip through. Gently pull the fixture from the ceiling. The wires are still attached so don't yank anything at this point.
Use a non contact tester to ensure that there is no power at the black and white wires. If no power is present, unscrew the wire nuts from all three sets of wires. Carefully separate the wires and remove the fixture.
This junction box is now ready for a new fixture. Follow the directions that come with the new light for installation of the new fixture.
Is your smoke alarm more than 10 years old? Time to replace and while you are at it, I recommend you upgrade your smoke alarm to dual sensor models that have both ionization and photoelectric capabilities. Read on below for step by step instructions on how to replace an existing hardwired smoke alarm in your home.
These directions are specific to to replacing a hardwired (connected to household AC current) and interconnected smoke detectors. If you don't feel comfortable working with electrical wires consider having a qualified party do this work.
1. Turn off the circuit breaker controlling the circuit for your fire alarm.
2. Remove the existing smoke alarm from the ceiling bracket.
3. Test at the smoke alarm wire pigtail to ensure that the power is off.
Step 4: Remove the pigtail wires from the back of the smoke alarm.
Step 5: Loosen the screws holding the existing bracket to the ceiling junction box. Remove the bracket.
Step 6: Pull the existing wires out of the junction box. There should be a black wire, white wire and a red wire in the box. The pigtail connection to the alarm will have a black wire, white wire and either a red or orange wire. Remove the wire nuts and separate the old pigtail from the ceiling wiring.
Step 7: Match up the pigtail connector wiring to the existing house wires. Black attaches to black. White to white wire and Red or orange to red.
Step 8: Make a connection between the pigtail wires and the house wires using a wire nut. Make sure that the wire colors match.
Step 9: Tuck the house wires and connections back in to the junction box.
Step 10: Thread the pigtail connection through the ceiling bracket.
Step 11: Secure the new ceiling bracket to the junction box and ceiling by replacing and tightening the screws that were loosened in step 5.
Step 12: This step is optional but highly recommended. Write the date of installation for both the battery and smoke alarm prior to installing in the bracket. This will make it easy in the future to know when the battery and alarm need to be replaced.
Step 13: Connect the pigtail adapter to the back of the smoke alarm.
Step 14: Gently place the pigtail in to the junction box while seating the smoke alarm body.
Step 15: Seat the alarm body in the bracket. Twist to seat. You may have a ribbon to pull to activate the alarm. Pull gently and steadily to remove the ribbon and activate the alarm.
Step 16: Cover your ears and push the test button to make sure that the new alarm works.
Reach inside this kitchen cabinet and find a surprise - an uncovered connection between 110 volt house power and a low voltage transformer for under cabinet LED lighting. Who wants a shock to go with their morning coffee?
All wiring connections need to be covered in a junction box - this needs to be fixed. This is a relatively simple thing to do if you are comfortable with working with electrical wiring. If you are not familiar with electrical work and safety, hire an electrician to fix this problem.
How to correct this problem:
1. Turn off the power to this circuit at the breaker box.
2. Make sure that the power is off by testing at the circuit with a non contact tester.
3. Undo the connection between the in wall wiring and the transformer.
4. Place a surface mount junction box over the wiring penetration.
5. Put all wires to be connected inside the box.
6. Make the connection between the house wiring and the transformer.
7. Put the cover on the junction box.
8. Turn the power back on and test.
Easy fix and the right thing to do. All electrical connections need to be inside a junction box according to both electrical code and common sense. This provides protection to the circuit and to the homeowner.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.