Federal Pacific Electric Stab-Lok(FPE Stab-Lok®) panels were in wide use from 1960 until the mid-80s. These electrical panels have a well-documented failure rate. While FPE Stab-Lok®circuit breaker panels may still deliver electricity to branch circuits, their failures are normally limited to the circuit break failing to function during an overload condition. These electrical panels have also been known to have failures where the circuit breaker attaches to the buss bars. Poor attachment at the buss bars can lead to heat and induced resistance that leads to more heat and carbon on the buss bars. One of the best ways to determine if circuit breaker attachment at the buss bars is failing is by use of a thermal imaging cameras and or by removing the breakers from the buss bars for inspection. This should only be performed by a licensed electrician trained to do so. This does not negate the fact that the circuit breakers themselves can and do fail to trip under overload conditions. This means the circuit can be overloaded by plug in devices along the branch circuit that can cause the wiring system of the home to run at temperatures that are higher than recommended. Simply replacing the circuit breaker does not resolve the problem. These breakers are inherently defective. As a professional Certified Master Home Inspector in the state of California we no longer inspect Federal Pacific Electrical Panels because of their latent hazards. These panels are called out as defective and should be replaced.
Generally these panels are easily identified by their orange operator handles. However some breakers have been replaced with overseas replacements that are gray or black in color.
Fraudulent FPE Stab-Lok®: In 2002 in a class-action lawsuit in New Jersey, the court ruled that over many years federal Pacific had violated the New York consumer fraud act. Specifically, the court found that federal Pacific knowingly and purposefully distributed circuit breakers which were not tested to meet UL standards as indicated in their label. This constitutes an unlawful practice prescribed by the act. The Court's decision which was based on extensive evidence that includes federal Pacific's own documents, confirming long-standing allegations of federal Pacific's fraudulent testing practices.
FPE Stab-Lok® fire hazard: In addition to the failure of these circuit breakers to protect a building and its occupants from dangerous overcurrents, switching an FPE Stab-Lok® circuit breaker to the “off” position may leave the breaker “on” internally, risking serious or fatal electrical shock. Based on failure studies and field reports, experts estimate that FPE Stab-Lok® panels cause significant annual property damage losses, injuries, and deaths each year.
Moreover federal Pacific electrical circuit breaker panels do not meet NEC requirements for protecting the branch circuits against overload. This was proven during multiple test of the circuit breakers that fail to trip during overload conditions. Read More..
The Consumer Products Safety Board also recognizes that to properly test a circuit breaker it must be tested under overload conditions and a wide variety of circuit breakers must be tested. Recently the consumer product safety board closed its investigation against federal Pacific circuit breaker panels.
Article where they conducted limited testing on two pole circuit breakers which are more commonly found in commercial applications. While two pole circuit breakers are used residentially, it is in limited quantities. According to the consumer product safety board and I quote. "The Commission staff estimates that it would cost several million dollars to gather the data necessary to assess fully whether those circuit breakers that are installed in homes but which may fail UL calibration tests present a risk to the public. Based on the Commission's limited budget ($34 million for fiscal year), the known hazards the Commission has identified and must address (involving products of other manufacturers) and the uncertainty of the results of such a costly investigation, the Commission has decided not to commit further resources to its investigation of FPE's circuit breakers. However, despite its decision to close this particular investigation, the Commission will continue its investigation of circuit breakers generally. The Commission can reopen its investigation of FPE circuit breakers if further information warrants."
In closing if you're home inspector has called a federal Pacific electrical panel as being a safety hazard it is in your family's best interest to update the panel.
We hope our findings as a home inspectors helps you understand the value of getting Certified Master Home Inspection.
One of the number one search result on Google, Bing and Yahoo. Who is the best home inspector in Los Angeles? There are a lot of ways to determine who is the best home inspector in Los Angeles. Most inspectors will say they are the best! Realtors will say that they have the best home inspector in Los Angeles. There are three things that make a home inspector truly the best. Certifications, Education & Experience. There are home inspectors that will be the best at price while others will claim to be the best because they have the most inspectors on staff. We believe it's important that being proficient, providing great customer service at a reasonable price and delivering a detailed home inspection report that's not full of abbreviations and sub-par findings makes us the best home inspectors. As stated, education and experience along with great qualifications make for the best home inspector. The best home inspectors in Los Angeles are Certified Master Home Inspectors this designation is the most difficult to get and our clients know this. It is vital to review your Home Inspector Qualifications and any Online Public Reviews the may have. Your home inspector should have a reputation for being the best inspector in Los Angeles and have a track record of providing such service. At David home inspection we believe we provide that service. With some of the best Certified Master Home Inspectors in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Bernardino, Riverside and San Diego. You know you will get a thorough, quality and fair price home inspection with unparalleled customer service.
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Overlooking the sewer line inspection could be your biggest mistake. Main sewer line repairs run in the tens of thousands of dollars and could render the use of your kitchen and bathroom facilities useless. Typically home inspectors will run sinks, toilets, tubs and showers and check for drain quality. However, home inspectors do not use toilet paper during this testing. When a sewer line suffers from root intrusion, water can normally passed by the roots with only minor restriction. However, paper gets caught on the roots causing complete blockage. This bockage can then lead to bacteria ridden sewage backing up into tubs, showers and toilets. Our sewer line camera can identify deficiencies such as root intrusion, cracks, separations and offsets. These deficiencies are commonly found in most sewer lines but go undetected during a basic home inspection. It's important to know before you close. Don't be victimized be informed. Only $199 with your home inspection. $325 Without.
Let us show you what other inspectors are missing!
My Main Goal As A Home Inspector Is To Make The Buyer An Informed
Buyer. We Hope Our Findings Help You Understand The Value And Importance Of A
Professional Home Inspection.
At David home inspection services we use the "FLIR i7 Camera" Short for Forward-looking Infrared. Our FLIR i7 camera starts where other home inspectors leave off. While other home inspectors are looking at the walls we are looking inside them. We have been able to identify hundreds of thousands of dollars in defects and deficiencies over the years using this technology. Everything from roof and plumbing leaks to missing insulation. This technology also allows us to see how energy efficient the housing envelope is. This technology is not required by any home inspection Association. However we understand that our demanding clients want the best. That means real testing and results with every inspection. It's true not everyone can afford to hire a qualified home inspector that utilizes this technology however those that do, are glad they did. Call us today to book your next home inspection. Let us show you what other inspectors are missing!
Before using your fireplace this year there are a few things you should do in order to ensure it is safe to do so. We will start at the top and work our way through the fireplace system.
Step one. Check The Storm Cap and Spark Arrester. Warning, if you are afraid of heights or uncomfortable climbing a ladder this process should be performed by a professional. Check the storm cap and make sure it is not rusted or become loose. If it has become rusted or paint has peeled, now is the time to apply a fresh coat of paint. The screen material should be unobstructed and free of debris. Storm Caps And Spark Arrester's Are Recommended to Help Prevent Deterioration of the Flue Liner and Damper Door!
If you have a storm cap installed already remove it and make a visual inspection down the chimney flue only If it's safe to do so. If you're chimney rises too high above the roof line this process should be left to a professional. Assuming now that you have removed the storm cap and have a clear view down the chimney look for signs of cracks in the liner. While some small hairline cracks are considered normal. They should be monitored and evaluated yearly for signs of growth or connecting cracks that may lead to chunks of the liner falling down on to the smoke shelf or obstructing the damper door. Soot and creosote buildup inside the chimney are also maintenance items that need to be taken care of on a regular basis. Consult a professional chimney sweep if you're flue liner shows signs of buildup. The picture above is taken of a chimney flue on a home that is approximately 40 years old. This chimney flue was in good to excellent condition considering its age..
Evaluating the damper is the next step. The damper door should open and close freely with little effort. At times lubrication and exercising of the damper door is needed to ensure its functionality and to prolong its serviceable life. The damper door should not have any areas that have rusted through and should open fully. The damper door should be in the full open position when in use and fully closed when not in use. If the damper door does not open all the way, this may be an indicator of a blockage or obstruction behind the hinge point. Further evaluation by professional would be needed to determine the obstruction. The fireplace should not be used in this condition.
The firebox is the next to be evaluated. Although cracks in the firebox are common they can create a breach in the fire containment envelope and should be evaluated by a professional. The firebrick should be firmly mortared in place. Bricks should be solid and not crumbling or deteriorating. There should be no missing grout or mortar around bricks. Mortar should be set firmly in the corners as well as where it meets the floor. If you find damaged brick or missing mortar, the fireplace should not be put into use until repairs have been made.
The ash pit and ash pit door are the next to be evaluated. Some fireplaces are equipped with an ash pit, where expired charcoal and ash can be swept down into the ash pit and scooped out from an exterior location. If the ash pit door in the firebox is loose or deteriorated it should be replaced by professional. If the ash pit is not to be used it should be bricked up and not used at all. The ash pit should be cleaned based on use. The exterior clean-out door should be secured to the chimney structure. It should open and close freely. The door should not be obstructed by soil or vegetation. If the door has deteriorated or has become loose to the chimney structure consult a professional for repairs or replacement.
Inspecting the log lighter and log grate. The log lighter should be inspected annually. If there are any signs of rust, deterioration or degradation of the gas log lighter pipe it should be replaced. It's recommended that log lighter's be replaced every five years or as needed depending on use. Even with gas only fireplaces the damper door must be in the open position when in use. Log grates should not be deteriorated or distorted by heat. Log grates should be elevated a minimum of 2 to 3 inches above the firebox floor and 1 inch above log lighters. Log grates should be replaced as needed.
At David home inspection services. We understand that there is no substitute for hiring a professional inspector before putting your fireplace into service. This should not be used as a tutorial on how to inspect a fireplace or chimney. While there are many more components to a fireplace, we have provided you with a good starting point to evaluate your chimney and fireplace before putting into service this winter.
Certified Master Inspector.
David Home Inspection Services, California
SOLID-WOOD DOOR between Dwelling and the Attached Garage
Section 302.4 of the 1998 CBC provides an exception to the one-hour separation requirement between Group R, Divisions 2.1, 2.2, 2.2.1 and 3 and Group U occupancies as follows:
The separation may be limited to the installation of materials approved for one-hour fire-resistive construction on the garage side and a self-closing, tightfitting solid-wood door 13/8 inches in thickness, or a self-closing, tightfitting door having a fire-protection rating of not less than 20 minutes when tested in accordance with Part II of UBC Standard 7-2…
The following frequently asked questions and answers are provided as a reference only
Frequent Asked Questions
Q1: Is a “solid-wood door” the same as a “solid-core wood door”?
A1: No, the two are different. “Solid wood” means wood material from face to face throughout, as opposed to wood veneer or laminated multi-ply wood veneers. A “solid-wood door” is a door that is made of solid wood. A “solid-core wood door”, on the other hand, is a composite door with wood veneers on both faces and a variety of infill in between.
Q2: Does a solid-wood door have to be made of a single-piece lumber to meet the requirement in Section 302.4?
A2: That is no longer the case. The UBC prior to the 1949 edition required a “solid slab wood door”, which means a single-piece solid wood construction. The subtle change from “solid slab wood door” to simply “solid-wood door” allows the door to be made of multi-strip solid wood, and thereby cut down its cost considerably.
Q3: Can a 13/4-inch solid-core wood door substitute for a 13/8-inch solid-wood door?
A3: As the lumber cost continues to rise, solid-wood doors are expensive and not readily available. That is why the 1991 edition of the UBC expanded the exception to allow other types of doors as alternatives to the expensive solid-wood doors. Those alternatives, however, must be rated 20 minutes or more when tested per Part II of UBC Standard 7-2.
The most economical and widely used alternative is the solid-core wood door. Though the thickness of the door is not an issue, a fire-rated solid-core door typically comes 13/4 ” or 21/4 “ thick. The fire rating of a solid-core wood door ranges widely, depending largely on its core materials. Price difference between a 20-minute rated and a non-rated 13/4 -inch particle-core door is about 10%, or 5 to 6 dollars. The code only accepts the rated one as an alternative.
Q4: Is the “S” rating required for the 20-minute label?
A4: Yes. Part II of UBC Standard 7-2 is a test standard for smoke- and draft-control. Doors that pass the test will bear a label showing the fire rating followed by the letter “S”. A fire-door label without the letter S means that the door passed the fire-endurance test per Part I of UBC Standard 7-2, but either was not tested for smoke leakage control per Part II of the standard, or failed to pass the test.
Q5: How can an inspector tell whether a door is a solid-core door or a solid-wood door if it has been painted?
A5: First and the easiest, you can tell the difference by knocking on it. The uneven density of materials in a composite door tends to deaden the sound when you knock on the door. A solid-wood door sounds distinctively louder, clearer, more resonant and with a higher pitch. Secondly, a particle-core door, which is the most readily available solid-core door, is much heavier than a solid-wood door. And thirdly, as a common practice in the industry, the top and bottom edges of a door are either not painted or just painted with a thin finish coat that still allows the texture of the door edge to show through.
Everyone is looking for the best deal for a local home inspection and sometimes overlook quality. It's true, home inspectors are becoming a dime a dozen in California, this has driven the cost of a home inspections down dramatically. Recently, I took the time to call all of the local competition and see where they stand on similar home inspections. I believe as a business owner you need to know what your competition is doing in order to stay on top. After calling the top 10 inspection companies on yelp prices varied by $50 to $100 on the same inspection. How can that be? I looked deeper. Some companies do not offer free inferred scanning using FLIR. Even worse the quality of the report writing was sub-par at best. And only one other company offered roof inspections using a drone..
Don't be victimized by recommendations promising to save you money on the home inspection. A cheap inspection is compensation for lack of experience. Only a certified master home inspector can save you thousands by identifying the homes defects and deficiencies.
Let's face it, if you're looking for a professional home inspector you're not going to find it for $200
Step 1. Checked their credentials. Most of them cannot be verified.
Step 2. Ask them how they became certified. Being a member of a club or organization does not make you certified, it only makes you a member. While some clubs and organizations do offer certifications for its members. It is important to understand which members have completed the process.
Step 3. Use caution when receiving low-cost referrals for a basic home inspection. You would be surprised just how basic it is.
Our Main Goal As Home Inspectors Is To Make The Buyer An Informed Buyer. We Hope Our Findings Help You Understand The Value And Importance Of A Professional Home Inspection.
David Home Inspection Services
This appliance maintenance tip is for the dishwasher and garbage disposal here's where a lot of people get into trouble. Take a look at this picture. You will notice a high concentration of mold in the cabinet. Many of us keep a lot of products under the kitchen sink. We hardly ever get on our hands and knees and inspect this area. It's important that twice a year you remove everything from under the sink run your faucets, garbage disposal and your dishwasher. What we are looking for are water leaks. Failure to identify any ongoing leak can lead to mold and mildew. Look for signs of corrosion around the garbage disposal. This will sometimes manifest itself as corrosion like blisters. If you find evidence of leaks around the garbage disposal it’s time for replacement. A simple dishwasher maintenance tip is to use CLR, according to the manufacturer’s instructions to clean any calcium build up in the appliance.
Our first maintenance tip is the refrigerator. We sometimes take this great appliance for granted. It does its job pretty much without any help at all. What we fail to realize that the refrigerator at times literally holds hundreds of dollars in food. The most important maintenance tip I can give you is to vacuum the refrigerator coil. These are located in a few different places. The most common location is at the bottom of the refrigerator the second location as to the rear of the refrigerator. If yours is at the bottom front, you simply need to remove the base grill, place your brush attachment on your vacuum and clean away. If you're condenser coil is that the rear of your refrigerator you'll need to slide the refrigerator out of its location and get behind it. Then proceed to vacuum the coil clean. While you have the refrigerator out it’s a good time to check for any loose or leaking connections pertaining to your icemaker water line. Now your coils are clean the refrigerator will run much more efficiently and last you a lot longer
Well it's November in Southern California and the rainy weather is upon us. As a professional home inspector I like to offer some basic maintenance tips that will help you get through winter with ease.
Tip #1: Window maintenance
Wood Windows: Older wood sash windows may need prep and paint of the mutton's and rails. Windowsills and stucco molding may also require prep, paint and caulking. Some wood windows will require new glazing compound for single glazed windows. This will help prolong the life and the originality of the window. This will also prevent water intrusion around the window.
Aluminum Windows: These Windows also require maintenance. Cleaning of the lower window channel to allow water to drain freely from the window frame will prevent water intrusion at frame corners. At times it's necessary to re-caulk the inner corner of the aluminum frame. If you're noticing blistering of the plaster or drywall at the corners of your aluminum windows it's probably time to perform some general maintenance.
Vinyl windows: Vinyl windows are are great and are known for being very low maintenance. However if you have vinyl retrofit Windows more than likely they were installed and caulked in place. It is important that the caulking be visually inspected and replaced as needed.
Tip #2: Hot Water Heater
November is a great time to flush your hot water tanks. This will reduce any sediment buildup at the bottom of the tank and allow the burner to work more efficiently.
Tip #3: Furnace and Filters
If you have an older floor furnace installed. Now would be a good time to vacuum any debris that may have fallen to the floor grill. If you have a forced air unit now's a good time to replace the air filter and dust the interior of the unit. We recommend that you unplug the unit prior to doing any dusting.
Tip #4: Fireplaces and chimneys
Homeowners should conduct a visual inspection of the fireplace and chimney prior to putting them into winter service. Cleaning out the ash pit along with inspecting the firebox and brick for signs of cracking or damage. The storm cap and spark arrestor at the top the chimney should be inspected to ensure that they are installed properly and in good condition. Log lighter's and gas valves should also be tested for gas leaks. We recommend that a professional chimney inspection be done every 2 to 3 years to ensure that these items are in good working order. It's always best to bring in a professional to make recommendations and evaluations if you don't feel comfortable or confident to conduct this type of inspection. We do not advocate that homeowners climb on roofs or using tall ladders unless they have been properly trained to do so.
Tip #5: Roof and gutter maintenance.
Now is a great time to make sure your rain gutters and downspouts are not clogged. Make sure that your downspouts are extended 3 feet from the homes foundation, take a moment and observe your roof valleys and flashing's. Consult a roofing contractor if cleaning or maintenance is necessary.
Tip#6: Smoke detectors
This is also a good time to change any smoke detector batteries and retest smoke detectors for proper operation.
David Home Inspection Services
Serving Los Angeles San Bernardino and Riverside Counties
David Salvato Father of Three, Blogger, Builder and Repairman of stuff my kids break! All round happy person.