I ran across an old Cadet model FX-102 in wall heater during a recent inspection. This is an older model of the Cadet brand heaters and is no longer produced due to safety issues. There was a now expired safety recall campaign by Cadet a few years ago where the majority of the units were replaced.
If you have a Cadet brand in wall heater it is a good idea to check the model number against the recalled unit list that is still on the Cadet website. The recall is over for getting a new unit from Cadet but you still need to replace any of the affected models if they happen to be in your house.
Kidde has a new recall on some models of their dual sensor smoke alarms. The Consumer Product Safety Commission has a press release with the details.
Alarm Models Affected: PI2010 and PI9010
Dates of Manufacture: 10 SEP 2016 to 13 OCT 2017
Kidde has a website dedicate to the recall with directions on how to check your smoke alarm.
This is something I see in houses every once in a while. The deadbolt is keyed inside the house and lacks the normal handle to lock and unlock. Most people who have these installed believe that it is a security feature. This door has a window next to the deadbolt and the thinking is that if the window is broken by an intruder they wouldn't be able to open the deadbolt if it requires a key.
While this is possibly true, if an intruder or burglar really wants to get in there are other ways they could do it (other windows, sliding door, kicking the door in). In reality, most people with a double keyed deadbolt leave a key in the lock anyway.
The real issue with a double keyed deadbolt is the danger it poses to occupants of the house. Code requires that any means of egress (exit) during an emergency to be able to be operated without any special tools, procedures or knowledge. If there is a fire inside the house that is the day that someone would have taken the key out of the lock. You need to make things easy on yourself during an emergency - adrenaline and panic do not necessarily lead to rational thought and problem solving. If the means of exiting your house requires a key from the inside you are putting all the occupants at risk of injury or even death.
This deadbolt needs to be replaced with a standard lockset with a handle on the inside. This is a fairly simple fix that can be done by most homeowners.
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.
What kind of smoke alarm is in your house? Odds are is that your current alarm is an ionization type. How old is your alarm? If your house is over 10 years old it's likely that your alarm is past the recommended replacement date. This post shows you how to check what type and how old your smoke alarm is.
Step 1: Find a smoke alarm. There should be one on every floor of your home and inside every bedroom.
Step 2: Remove the working part of the alarm from the base plate. Generally this is accomplished by twisting the alarm body counterclockwise until it releases. If you have a hardwired system (all the alarms are interconnected) be careful of the wire connections inside the junction box.
Step 3: Look at the information plate on the rear of the alarm body. You are looking for a date of manufacture and a statement warning of the presence of Americium 241. The date of manufacture will tell you how old the alarm is. If over 10 years old, it is recommended to replace it. If the alarm contains Americium 241 it has an ionization sensor and is best at detecting flaming type of fires. It is possible that it is a dual unit but likely that it is a single sensor system. Dual type units usually have that information printed on the front.
Step 4: Replace the alarm body in the baseplate with a clockwise motion.
Step 5: If your alarm is over 10 years old, plan on heading to the local big box store to look at replacements. It is helpful to note the brand and model of your current smoke alarm to aid in finding the correct replacement model.
Photoelectric smoke alarms are not as common in modern construction. They work on a different principle than the more common ionization alarms (see infographic below). Photoelectric alarms are better suited to detecting smoldering type of fires in a home.
Just like the post last week on ionization alarms, the takeaway for a homeowner is to consider a dual type of alarm instead of relying on just one method to detect fires in the home. You don't get to choose the type of fire that may affect your home. Dual type smoke alarms that combine both ionization and photoelectric sensors are the best choice for any alarms you are considering replacing or upgrading.
Ionization smoke alarms are very common in the US. It's likely that the current smoke alarms in your house fall in to this category. These type of alarms rely on a tiny amount of a radioactive substance called Americium 241 to help detect smoke particles in the air (see the infographic below for details).
Ionization smoke alarms are best at detecting a flaming type of fire. They do not work as well as detecting a smoldering fire in the house. An ionization smoke alarm does provide a warning for fires it can detect it may not be the best choice to cover all potential types of house fires. A better option is a dual function smoke alarm - one that has both ionization and photoelectric sensors. Look for a post next week that explores photoelectric type alarms.
Good video embedded below about the basics of home smoke alarms. Great information from the National Fire Protection Agency. If you are planning on upgrading your smoke alarms keep the recommendation of a combo unit that includes both photoelectric and ionization detection of fires in the home.
Smoke alarms - out of sight and out of mind until the battery goes bad. The only time most people think about them are when you are trying to figure out which alarm is chirping incessantly.
Do you have the right number in your house and in the correct locations? Smoke alarms are required on every floor of a home, outside each separate sleeping area and inside every bedroom. Interconnected alarms are the best - they can alert you to a problem in a different part of the home.
Batteries in smoke alarms need to be replaced yearly. Smoke alarms should be tested monthly to ensure proper operation. Smoke alarms have a useful life of about 10 years before they need replacement. This may seem like a daunting task but most are designed to be easy swapped out. Look for a post in the next few weeks about inspecting and replacing a common type of smoke alarm in houses built in the early 2000's.
Brian Jovag, owner of Jovag Home Inspection.