Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Pensacola Pelican Drop


What is it?

The Downtown Improvement Board (DIB) is proud to offer Gulf Coast residents an exciting and unique celebration to ring in the new year.

Ring in the new year in Downtown Pensacola with The Pensacola Pelican Drop™, a free event unique to the Gulf Coast. Festivities kick off at 5 p.m. on New Year's Eve and continue until 12:30 a.m.

Throughout the evening the giant Pelican (14 feet tall, with a 20-foot wingspan) is perched above the celebration on a 100-foot platform at the intersection of Palafox and Government Streets. Although Palafox and Government Street will be closed to traffic, area restaurants will be open and additional vendors will be providing refreshments (no alcohol sales). Live performances on three outdoor stages provide ongoing entertainment throughout the evening. The popular kids' area will be expanded this year and will feature the special kids' countdown at 8 p.m. with confetti and the "bubble stomp." At the stroke of midnight, the whole city celebrates as the Pelican descends amidst fireworks and more confetti.

The event is expected to be a huge hit with over 50,000 revelers in attendance.
Tips

  •     LOCATION
    Palafox Place will close down for a massive party. Street closures begin on the morning of December 31st and continue until 1 am.
  •     PARKING
    There is plenty of handicap and regular parking in the Jefferson garage as well as the local parking lots downtown.
  •     ARRIVE EARLY FOR THE BEST VIEW OF THE PELICAN DROP
    Folks begin arriving as early as 5pm on December 31 for the family friendly events. Some of the prime viewing spots will be filled by mid-evening.
  •     HIT THE BATHROOM FIRST
    There are public portable restrooms through out the event location.
  •     FOOD AND BEVERAGES
    The local bars and restaurants will be open to buy food and drinks as well as food vendors on the streets. No coolers please.
  •     BE READY FOR CROWDS
    Approximately twenty-five thousand people will end up on Palafox Place the night of New Year’s Eve.
  •     NO ANIMALS
    Only service animals allowed.
  •     BE PATIENT AND HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR
    Your feet will get stomped on. People will block your view. Someone is bound to bump into you. Keep your cool and you (& those around you) will enjoy the New Year's Eve Pelican Drop.
  •     CONSIDER THE WEATHER
    The weather in Pensacola on New Year's Eve can vary widely. If it's going to rain or be bitterly cold, you might want to consider dressing for the weather, with extra layers to add as it gets later and colder. Remember for the Ball Drop in New York City the average temperature is 28 low and 42 high compared to Pensacola’s temperature of 45 low to 63 high.
  •     PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU PLAN TO ARRIVE HOME SAFELY.

Friday, December 27, 2013

National Council on Fireworks Safety Offers Common Sense Tips for Staying Safe During Holiday Celebrations



Using consumer fireworks on New Years is a tradition.  And it can be safe if a few common sense rules are followed, says Ralph Apel, the spokesperson for the National Council on Fireworks Safety. Consumer fireworks go through vigorous third party testing in China before being shipped to the United States.  But he notes, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), there were an estimated 9,600 fireworks related injuries during the Fourth of July season in 2011. 

Most of these injuries would not have occurred if the fireworks had been used under close adult supervision and if some basic safety steps had been taken. The National Council on Fireworks Safety offers these common sense safety tips for using consumer fireworks in hopes that injuries to consumers can be greatly reduced this season:

  •     Always purchase fireworks from a reliable source.
  •     Use fireworks as directed on consumer product safety label; never alter products.
  •     Observe local laws and use good COMMON SENSE.
  •     Have a designated shooter to organize and shoot your family show.
  •     A responsible ADULT should supervise all firework activities.
  •     Parents should not allow young children to handle or use fireworks.
  •     Alcohol and fireworks do not mix.   Save your alcohol for after the show.
  •     Use fireworks OUTDOORS in a clear area; AWAY from buildings and vehicles.
  •     NEVER carry fireworks in your POCKET.
  •     Wear safety glasses whenever using fireworks.
  •     Always have water ready if you are shooting fireworks.
  •     Do not experiment with homemade fireworks.
  •     Never relight a “dud” firework.  Wait 20 minutes and then soak it in a bucket of water.
  •     Soak spent fireworks with water before placing them in an outdoor trash can.
  •     Report illegal explosives, like M-80s and quarter sticks, to the fire or police department.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety urges Americans to follow common sense safety rules in their holiday celebrations.

The National Council on Fireworks Safety is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization whose sole mission is to educate the public on the safe and responsible use of consumer fireworks.  For a full list of consumer fireworks safety tips and a safety video, please visit www.FireworksSafety.org.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Plumbing Terms

Plumbing may be defined as the practice, materials and fixtures used in the installation, maintenance and alteration of all piping, fixtures, appliances and appurtenances in connection with sanitary and storm drainage facilities, the venting system, and public and private water supply systems. Plumbing does not include the trade of drilling water wells, installing water-softening equipment, or the business of manufacturing or selling plumbing fixtures, appliances, equipment or hardware. A plumbing system consists of three separate parts: an adequate potable water supply system; a safe, adequate drainage system; and ample fixtures and equipment.
 
Background Factors

The generalized inspection of a home is concerned with a safe water supply system, an adequate drainage system, and ample and proper fixtures and equipment. This article explains features of a residential plumbing system, and the basic plumbing terms the inspector must know and understand to properly identify housing code violations involving plumbing and the more complicated defects that s/he will refer to the appropriate agencies. Only InterNACHI inspectors are sufficiently trained to spot complicated defects that others will overlook. 
 
Definitions

Air Chambers
Pressure absorbing devices that eliminate water hammer. They should be installed as close as possible to the valves or faucet and at the end of long runs of pipe.

Air Gap (Drainage System)
The unobstructed vertical distance through the free atmosphere between the outlet of a water pipe and the flood level rim of the receptacle into which it is discharging.

Air Gap (Water Distribution System)
The unobstructed vertical distance through the free atmosphere between the lowest opening from any pipe or faucet supplying water to a tank, plumbing fixture, or other device and the flood level rim of the receptacle.

Air Lock
An air lock is a bubble of air which restricts the flow of water in a pipe.

Backflow
The flow of water or other liquids, mixtures, or substances into the distributing pipes of a potable water supply from any source or sources other than the intended source. Back siphonage is one type of backflow.

Back Siphonage 
The flowing back of used, contaminated, or polluted water from a plumbing fixture or vessel into a potable water supply due to a negative pressure in the pipe.

Branch
Any part of the piping system other than the main, riser, or stack.

Branch Vent 
A vent connecting one or more individual vents with a vent stack.

Building Drain
The part of the lowest piping of a drainage system that receives the discharge from soil, waste, or other drainage pipes inside the walls of the building (house) and conveys it to the building sewer beginning 3 feet outside the building wall.
 
Cross Connection
Any physical connection or arrangement between two otherwise separate piping systems, one of which contains potable water and the other either water of unknown or questionable safety or steam, gas, or chemical whereby there may be a flow from one system to the other, the direction of flow depending on the pressure differential between the two systems. (See Backflow and Back siphonage.)

Disposal Field
An area containing a series of one or more trenches lined with coarse aggregate and conveying the effluent from the septic tank through vitrified clay Pine or perforated, non-metallic pipe, laid in such a manner that the flow will be distributed with reasonable uniformity into natural soil.
 
Drain
Any pipe that carries waste water or water-borne waste in a building (house) drainage system.
 
Flood Level Rim
The top edge of a receptacle from which water overflows.
 
Flushometer Valve 
A device that discharges a predetermined quantity of water to fixtures for flushing purposes and is closed by direct water pressures.
 
Flush Valve
A device located at the bottom of the tank for flushing water closets and similar fixtures.  
 
Grease Trap
See Interceptor.  
 
Hot Water
Potable water that is heated to at least 120°F and used for cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, and bathing.
 
Insanitary
Contrary to sanitary principles injurious to health.
 
Interceptor
A device designed and installed so as to separate and retain deleterious, hazardous, or undesirable matter from normal wastes and permit normal sewage or liquid wastes to discharge into the drainage system by gravity.
 
Leader
An exterior drainage pipe for conveying storm water from roof or gutter drains to the building storm drain, combined building sewer, or other means of disposal.
 
Main Vent
The principal artery of the venting system, to which vent branches may be connected.
 
Main Sewer
See Public Sewer.
 
Pneumatic
The word pertains to devices making use of compressed air as in pressure tanks boosted by pumps.  
 
Potable Water
Water having no impurities present in amounts sufficient to cause disease or harmful physiological effects and conforming in its bacteriological and chemical quality to the requirements of the Public Health Service drinking water standards or meeting the regulations of the public health authority having jurisdiction.  
 
P & T (Pressure and Temperature) Relief Valve 
A safety valve installed on a hot water storage tank to limit temperature and pressure of the water.  
 
P Trap
A trap with a vertical inlet and a horizontal outlet.  
 
Public Sewer
A common sewer directly controlled by public authority.  
 
Relief Vent
An auxiliary vent that permits additional circulation of air in or between drainage and vent systems.
 
Septic Tank
A watertight receptacle that receives the discharge of a building's sanitary drain system or part thereof and is designed and constructed so as to separate solid from the liquid, digest organic matter through a period of detention, and allow the liquids to discharge into the soil outside of the tank through a system of open-joint or perforated piping, or through a seepage pit.  
 
Sewerage System
A sewerage system comprises all piping, appurtenances, and treatment facilities used for the collection and disposal of sewage, except plumbing inside and in connection with buildings served and the building drain.
 
Soil Pipe
The pipe that directs the sewage of a house to the receiving sewer, building drain, or building sewer.
 
Soil Stack
The vertical piping that terminates in a roof vent and carries off the vapors of a plumbing system.
 
Stack Vent
An extension of a solid or waste stack above the highest horizontal drain connected to the stack. Sometimes called a waste vent or a soil vent.  
 
Storm Sewer 
A sewer used for conveying rain water, surface water, condensate. cooling water, or similar liquid waste.  
 
Trap
A trap is a fitting or device that provides a liquid seal to prevent the emission of sewer gases without materially affecting the flow of sewage or waste water through it.  
 
Vacuum Breaker
A device to prevent backflow (back siphonage) by means of an opening through which air may be drawn to relieve negative pressure (vacuum).  
 
Vent Stack
The vertical vent pipe installed to provide air circulation to and from the drainage system and that extends through one or more stories.  
 
Water Hammer
The loud thump of water in a pipe when a valve or faucet is suddenly closed.  
 
Water Service Pipe
The pipe from the water main or other sources of potable water supply to the water-distributing system of the building served.
 
Water Supply System
The water supply system consists of the water service pipe, the water-distributing pipes, the necessary connecting pipes, fittings, control valves, and all appurtenances in or adjacent to the building or premises.
 
Wet Vent
A vent that receives the discharge of waste other than from water closets.  
 
Yoke Vent
A pipe connecting upward from a soil or waste stack to a vent stack for the purpose of preventing pressure changes in the stacks.
 
Main Features of an Indoor Plumbing System

The primary functions of the plumbing system within the house are as follows:
  1. To bring an adequate and potable supply of hot and cold water to the users of the dwelling.
  2. To drain all waste water and sewage discharged from these fixtures into the public sewer, or private disposal system.
It is, therefore, very important that the housing inspector familiarize himself fully with all elements of these systems so that he may recognize inadequacies of the structure's plumbing as well as other code violations.
 
Elements of a Plumbing System
 

Water Service: The piping of a house service line should be as short as possible. Elbows and bends should be kept to a minimum since these reduce the pressure and therefore the supply of water to fixtures in the house. The house service line should also be protected from freezing. The burying of the line under 4 feet of soil is a commonly accepted depth to prevent freezing. This depth varies, however, across the country from north to south. The local or state plumbing code should be consulted for the recommended depth in your area of the country.
 
The materials used for a house service may be copper, cast iron, steel or wrought iron. The connections used should be compatible with the type of pipe used. 

  • Corporation stop:  The corporation stop is connected to the water main. This connection is usually made of brass and can be connected to the main by use of a special tool without shutting off the municipal supply. The valve incorporated in the corporation stop permits the pressure to be maintained in the main while the service to the building is completed.
  •  Curb stop:  The curb stop is a similar valve used to isolate the building from the main for repairs, nonpayment of water bills, or flooded basements. Since the corporation stop is usually under the street and would necessitate breaking the pavement to reach the valve, the curb stop is used as the isolation valve.
  • Curb stop box:  The curb stop box is an access box to the curb stop for opening and closing the valve. A long-handled wrench is used to reach the valve. 
  • Meter stop:  The meter stop is a valve placed on the street side of the water meter to isolate the meter for installation or maintenance. Many codes require a gate valve on the house side of the meter to shut off water for house plumbing repairs. The curb and meter stops are not to be used frequently and can be ruined in a short time if used very frequently. 
  • Water meter:  The water meter is a device used to measure the amount of water used in the house. It is usually the property of the city and is a very delicate instrument that should not be abused. Since the electric system is usually grounded to the water line, a grounding loop-device should be installed around the meter. Many meters come with a yoke that maintains electrical continuity even though the meter is removed.
Hot and Cold Water Main Lines: The hot and cold water main lines are usually hung from the basement ceiling and are attached to the water meter and hot-water tank on one side and the fixture supply risers on the other. These pipes should be installed in a neat manner and should be supported by pipe hangers or straps of sufficient strength and number to prevent sagging. Hot and cold water lines should be approximately 6 inches apart unless the hot water line is insulated. This is to insure that the cold water line does not pick up heat from the hot water line. The supply mains should have a drain valve or stop and waste valve in order to remove water from the system for repairs. These valves should be on the low end of the line or on the end of each fixture riser.

The fixture risers start at the basement main and rise vertically to the fixtures on the upper floors. In a one-family dwelling, riser branches will usually proceed from the main riser to each fixture grouping. In any event the fixture risers should not depend on the branch risers for support but should be supported with a pipe bracket. Each fixture is then connected to the branch riser by a separate line. The last fixture on a line is usually connected directly to the branch riser.

Hot Water Heaters: Hot water heaters are usually powered by electricity, fuel oil, gas, or in rare cases, coal or wood. They consist of a space for heating the water and a storage tank for providing hot water over a limited period of time. All hot water heaters should be fitted with a temperature-pressure relief valve no matter what fuel is used. This valve will operate when either the temperature or the pressure becomes too high due to an interruption of the water supply or a faulty thermostat.

Pipe Sizes: The size of basement mains and risers depends on the number of fixtures supplied. However, a 3/4-inch pipe is usually the minimum size used. This allows for deposits on the pipe due to hardness in the water and will usually give satisfactory volume and pressure.
 
Drainage System

The water supply brought into the house and used is discharged through the drainage system. This system is either a sanitary drainage system carrying just interior waste water or a combined system carrying interior waste and roof runoff.
 
Sanitary Drainage System: The proper sizing of the sanitary drain or house drain depends on the number of fixtures it serves. The usual minimum size is 6 inches in dial diameter. The materials used are usually cast iron, vitrified clay, plastic, and in rare cases, lead. For proper flow in the drain the pipe should be sized so that it flows approximately one-half full. This ensures proper scouring action so that the solids contained in the waste will not be deposited in the pipe.
  • Sizing of house drain - The Uniform Plumbing Code Committee has developed a method of sizing of house drains in terms of "fixture units." One ''fixture unit" equals approximately 71 D2 gallons of water per minute. This is the surge flow-rate of water discharged from a wash basin in 1 minute. All other fixtures have been related to this unit.
Sanitary Drain Sizes
  • Grade of house drain - A house drain or building sewer should be sloped toward the sewer to ensure scouring of the drain. The usual pitch of a house or building sewer is 1 D4 inch fall in 1 foot of length.
  • Fixture and branch drains - A branch drain is a waste pipe that collects the waste from two or more fixtures and conveys it to the building or house sewer. It is sized in the same way as the house sewer, taking into account that all water closets must have a minimum 3-inch diameter drain, and only two water closets may connect into one 3-inch drain.
All branch drains must join the house drain with a "Y" -type fitting. The same is true for fixture drains joining branch drains. The "Y" fitting is used to eliminate, as much as possible, the deposit of solids in or near the connection. A build-up of these solids will cause a blockage in the drain.
  • Traps - A plumbing trap is a device used in a waste system to prevent the passage of sewer gas into the structure and yet not hinder the fixture's discharge to any great extent. All fixtures connected to a household plumbing system should have a trap installed in the line.
The effect of sewer gases on the human body are known; many are extremely harmful. Additionally, certain sewer gases are explosive. A trap will prevent these gases from passing into the structure. The depth of the seal in a trap is usually 2 inches. A deep seal trap has a 4-inch seal.
 
The purpose of a trap is to seal out sewer gases from the structure. Since a plumbing system is subject to wide variations in flow, and this flow originates in many different sections of the system, there is a wide variation in pressures in the waste lines. These pressure differences tend to destroy the water seal in the trap. To counteract this problem mechanical traps were introduced. It has been found, however, that the corrosive liquids flowing in the system corrode or jam these mechanical traps. It is for this reason that most plumbing codes prohibit mechanical traps.
 
There are many manufacturers of traps, and all have varied the design somewhat. The "P" trap is usually found in lavatories, sinks, urinals, drinking fountains, showers, and other installations that do not discharge a great deal of water.

Drum trap
The drum trap is another water seal-type trap. They are usually used in the 4x5-inch or 4x8-inch sizes. These traps have a greater sealing capacity than the "P" trap and pass large amounts of water quickly. Drum traps are commonly connected to bathtubs, foot baths, sitz baths, and modified shower baths.

Objectionable traps
The "S" 1 and the 3h "S" trap should not be us in plumbing installations. They are almost impossible to ventilate properly, and the 3h "S" trap forms a perfect siphon.
The bag trap, an extreme form of "S" trap, is seldom found.

Any trap that depends on a moving part for its effectiveness is usually inadequate and has been prohibited by the local plumbing codes. These traps work, but their design usually results in their being higher priced than the "P" or drum traps. It should be remembered that traps are used only to prevent the escape of sewer gas into the structure. They do not compensate for pressure variations. Only proper venting will eliminate pressure problems.
 
Ventilation
 
A plumbing system is ventilated to prevent trap seal loss, material deterioration. and flow retardation.

Trap Seal Loss
 
The seal in a plumbing trap may be lost due to siphonage (direct and indirect or momentum), back pressure, evaporation, capillary attraction, or wind effect. The first two named are probably the most common causes of loss. If a waste pipe is placed vertically after the fixture trap, as in an "S" trap, the waste water continues to flow after the fixture is emptied and clears the trap. This is caused by the pressure of air on the fixture water's being greater than the pressure of air in the waste pipe. The action of the water discharging into the waste pipe removes the air from that pipe and thereby causes a negative pressure in the waste line. In the case of indirect or momentum siphonage, the flow of water past the entrance to a fixture drain in the waste pipe removes air from the fixture drain. This reduces the air pressure in the fixture drain, and the entire assembly acts as an aspirator such as the physician uses to spray an infected throat.

Back Pressure
 
The flow of water in a soil pipe varies according to the fixtures being used. A lavatory gives a small flow and a water closet a large flow. Small flows tend to cling to the sides of the pipe, but large ones form a slug of waste as they drop. As this slug of water falls down the pipe the air in front of it becomes pressurized. As the pressure builds it seeks an escape point. This point is either a vent or a fixture outlet. If the vent is plugged or there is no vent, the only escape for this air is the fixture outlet. The air pressure forces the trap seal up the pipe into the fixture. If the pressure is great enough the seal is blown out of the fixture entirely. Figures 6-17 and 6-18 illustrate this type of problem.

Vent Sizing
 
Vent pipe installation is similar to that of soil and waste pipe. The same fixture unit criteria are used. Vent pipes of less than 11 D4 inches in diameter should not be used. Vents smaller than this diameter tend to clog and do not perform their function.
  • Individual fixture ventilation:  This type of ventilation is generally used for sinks, lavatories, drinking fountains, and so forth
  • Unit venting:  The unit venting system is commonly used in apartment buildings. This type of system saves a great deal of money and space when fixtures are placed back to back in separate apartments. 
  • Wet venting:  Wet venting of a plumbing system is common in household bathroom fixture grouping. It is exactly what the name implies: the vent pipe is used as a waste line. 
Total Drainage System
 
Up to now we have covered the drain, soil waste, and vent systems of a plumbing system separately. For a working system, however, they must all be connected.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Holiday Home Safety Tips

 

The winter holidays are a time for celebration, and that means more cooking, home decorating, entertaining, and an increased risk of fire and accidents. InterNACHI recommends that you follow these guidelines to help make your holiday season safer and more enjoyable.
     
 
Holiday Lighting
  • Use caution with holiday decorations and, whenever possible, choose those made with flame-resistant, flame-retardant and non-combustible materials.
  • Keep candles away from decorations and other combustible materials, and do not use candles to decorate Christmas trees.
  • Carefully inspect new and previously used light strings, and replace damaged items before plugging lights in. If you have any questions about electrical safety, ask an InterNACHI inspector during your next scheduled inspection. Do not overload extension cords.
  • Don't mount lights in any way that can damage the cord's wire insulation.  To hold lights in place, string them through hooks or insulated staples--don't use nails or tacks. Never pull or tug lights to remove them.
  • Keep children and pets away from light strings and electrical decorations.
  • Never use electric lights on a metallic tree. The tree can become charged with electricity from faulty lights, and a person touching a branch could be electrocuted.
  • Before using lights outdoors, check labels to be sure they have been certified for outdoor use.  
  • Make sure all the bulbs work and that there are no frayed wires, broken sockets or loose connections.
  • Plug all outdoor electric decorations into circuits with ground-fault circuit interrupters to avoid potential shocks.
  • Turn off all lights when you go to bed or leave the house. The lights could short out and start a fire.
Decorations
  • Use only non-combustible and flame-resistant materials to trim a tree. Choose tinsel and artificial icicles of plastic and non-leaded metals.
  • Never use lighted candles on a tree or near other evergreens. Always use non-flammable holders, and place candles where they will not be knocked down.
  • In homes with small children, take special care to avoid decorations that are sharp and breakable, and keep trimmings with small removable parts out of the reach of children.
  • Avoid trimmings that resemble candy and food that may tempt a young child to put them in his mouth.
Holiday Entertaining
  • Unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires in the U.S.  When cooking for holiday visitors, remember to keep an eye on the range.
  • Provide plenty of large, deep ashtrays, and check them frequently. Cigarette butts can smolder in the trash and cause a fire, so completely douse cigarette butts with water before discarding.
  • Keep matches and lighters up high, out of sight and reach of children (preferably in a locked cabinet).
  • Test your smoke alarms, and let guests know what your fire escape plan is.
Trees
  • When purchasing an artificial tree, look for the label "fire-resistant."
  • When purchasing a live tree, check for freshness. A fresh tree is green, needles are hard to pull from branches, and when bent between your fingers, needles do not break.
  • When setting up a tree at home, place it away from fireplaces, radiators and portable heaters. Place the tree out of the way of traffic and do not block doorways.
  • Cut a few inches off the trunk of your tree to expose the fresh wood. This allows for better water absorption and will help to keep your tree from drying out and becoming a fire hazard.
  • Be sure to keep the stand filled with water, because heated rooms can dry live trees out rapidly.
  • Make sure the base is steady so the tree won't tip over easily.
Fireplaces
  • Before lighting any fire, remove all greens, boughs, papers and other decorations from fireplace area. Check to see that the flue is open.
  • Use care with "fire salts," which produce colored flames when thrown on wood fires. They contain heavy metals that can cause intense gastrointestinal irritation and vomiting if eaten.
  • Do not burn wrapping papers in the fireplace. A flash fire may result as wrappings ignite suddenly and burn intensely.
Toys and Ornaments
  • Purchase appropriate toys for the appropriate age. Some toys designed for older children might be dangerous for younger children.
  • Electric toys should be UL/FM approved.
  • Toys with sharp points, sharp edges, strings, cords, and parts small enough to be swallowed should not be given to small children.
  • Place older ornaments and decorations that might be painted with lead paint out of the reach of small children and pets.
Children and Pets
  • Poinsettias are known to be poisonous to humans and animals, so keep them well out of reach, or avoid having them.
  • Keep decorations at least 6 inches above the child’s reach.
  • Avoid using tinsel. It can fall on the floor and a curious child or pet may eat it. This can cause anything from mild distress to death.
  • Keep any ribbons on gifts and tree ornaments shorter than 7 inches. A child could wrap a longer strand of ribbon around their neck and choke.
  • Avoid mittens with strings for children. The string can get tangled around the child’s neck and cause them to choke. It is easier to replace a mitten than a child.
  • Watch children and pets around space heaters or the fireplace. Do not leave a child or pet unattended.
  • Store scissors and any sharp objects that you use to wrap presents out of your child’s reach.
  • Inspect wrapped gifts for small decorations, such as candy canes, gingerbread men, and mistletoe berries, all of which are choking hazards.
 Security  
  • Use your home burglar alarm system.
  • If you plan to travel for the holidays, don’t discuss your plans with strangers. 
  • Have a trusted friend or neighbor to keep an eye on your home.

YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD InterNACHI INSPECTOR WISHES YOU
A SAFE & JOYOUS HOLIDAY SEASON!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Christmas Light Safety - A Few Tips




Your house truly stands out whenever the Christmas lights are finally installed and turned on at night. If you are not careful, however, the lights that are strung around your home and over your roof can prevent a real hazard. Before turning the switch on to dazzle the neighborhood, make sure that you have checked through a full safety checklist. This can help ensure that your lighting display lasts, and that you do not become a victim of one of the many electrical fires each year that are caused by unsafe Christmas lighting displays.

Before flipping that switch for the first time, go through this checklist to make sure your lights not only look great, but are as safe as can be.

· Check all cords and strands of light thoroughly for cracked cords, loose connections of frayed ends before stringing them up on your home.

· Electrical shorts and a dry tree can be a recipe for disaster. Keep your tree watered the entire time that it is in your home. It will not only keep it looking nice and green, but it could also save your life.

· Get rid of your old strings of lights and replace them with newer lights that have fused plugs. These plugs are designed to stop sparks if there is a short circuit and are much safer.

· Replace any burned out bulbs immediately with the correct wattage bulb.

· Make sure that all outdoor lights are plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet (GFCI) to make sure that you reduce your risk of shorts and shocks due to water and debris.

· Watch extension cords to make sure that they are not overheating.

· Use insulated hooks, rather than tacks, screws or nails to hang lights.

· Keep water, debris and snow out of connections by elevating any plugs from cords that are running along the ground.

· Prevent people from tripping over ground-level extension cords by taping them to the ground.

· Only buy lights that have been tested in a laboratory. This rating should be listed on the outside of the box.

· Make sure that you are only using lights that are rated for outdoor use when hanging up lights outside. Indoor lights typically have thinner insulation, which can become damaged when exposed to the elements.

· Turn lights off when you go to bed at night or when you are away from your home.

· Store all holiday lights in a properly sealed container to avoid any water or rodent damage during the storage period.

Although holiday lighting accounts for a large portion of home electrical fires during the winter months, this should not deter you from decorating your home for the seasons. The majority of these fires can be prevented, and employing a little education and common sense can go a long way. With the proper precautions and safe installation, you can enjoy your holiday lighting year after year.

 By Cody Kenworthy
Cody Kenworthy is a writer for www.theelectricconnection.com, a Los Angeles Electrician. He enjoys writing on a variety of electrical topics, including Electrical Vehicle Chargers.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Cody_Kenworthy

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Protect Your Property From Water Damage

Water may be essential to life, but, as a destructive force, water can diminish the value of your home or building. Homes as well as commercial buildings can suffer water damage that results in increased maintenance costs, a decrease in the value of the property, lowered productivity, and potential liability associated with a decline in indoor air quality. The best way to protect against this potential loss is to ensure that the building components which enclose the structure, known as the building envelope, are water-resistant. Also, you will want to ensure that manufacturing processes, if present, do not allow excess water to accumulate. Finally, make sure that the plumbing and ventilation systems, which can be quite complicated in buildings, operate efficiently and are well-maintained. This article provides some basic steps for identifying and eliminating potentially damaging excess moisture.
 
Identify and Repair All Leaks and Cracks 
The following are common building-related sources of water intrusion:
  • windows and doors: Check for leaks around your windows, storefront systems and doors.
  • roof: Improper drainage systems and roof sloping reduce roof life and become a primary source of moisture intrusion. Leaks are also common around vents for exhaust or plumbing, rooftop air-conditioning units, or other specialized equipment.
  • foundation and exterior walls: Seal any cracks and holes in exterior walls, joints and foundations. These often develop as a naturally occurring byproduct of differential soil settlement.
  • plumbing: Check for leaking plumbing fixtures, dripping pipes (including fire sprinkler systems), clogged drains (both interior and exterior), defective water drainage systems and damaged manufacturing equipment.
  • ventilation, heating and air conditioning (HVAC) systems: Numerous types, some very sophisticated, are a crucial component to maintaining a healthy, comfortable work environment. They are comprised of a number of components (including chilled water piping and condensation drains) that can directly contribute to excessive moisture in the work environment. In addition, in humid climates, one of the functions of the system is to reduce the ambient air moisture level (relative humidity) throughout the building. An improperly operating HVAC system will not perform this function.
Prevent Water Intrusion Through Good Inspection and Maintenance Programs
 
Hire a qualified InterNACHI inspector to perform an inspection of the following elements of your building to ensure that they remain in good condition:
  • flashings and sealants: Flashing, which is typically a thin metal strip found around doors, windows and roofs, are designed to prevent water intrusion in spaces where two building materials come together. Sealants and caulking are specifically applied to prevent moisture intrusion at building joints. Both must be maintained and in good condition.
  • vents: All vents should have appropriate hoods, exhaust to the exterior, and be in good working order.
  • Review the use of manufacturing equipment that may include water for processing or cooling. Ensure wastewater drains adequately away, with no spillage. Check for condensation around hot or cold materials or heat-transfer equipment.
  • HVAC systems are much more complicated in commercial buildings. Check for leakage in supply and return water lines, pumps, air handlers and other components. Drain lines should be clean and clear of obstructions. Ductwork should be insulated to prevent condensation on exterior surfaces.
  • humidity: Except in specialized facilities, the relative humidity in your building should be between 30% and 50%. Condensation on windows, wet stains on walls and ceilings, and musty smells are signs that relative humidity may be high. If you are concerned about the humidity level in your building, consult with a mechanical engineer, contractor or air-conditioning repair company to determine if your HVAC system is properly sized and in good working order. A mechanical engineer should be consulted when renovations to interior spaces take place.
  • moist areas: Regularly clean off, then dry all surfaces where moisture frequently collects.
  • expansion joints: Expansion joints are materials between bricks, pipes and other building materials that absorb movement. If expansion joints are not in good condition, water intrusion can occur.
Protection From Water Damage
  • interior finish materials: Replace drywall, plaster, carpet and stained or water-damaged ceiling tiles. These are not only good evidence of a moisture intrusion problem, but can lead to deterioration of the work environment, if they remain over time.
  • exterior walls: Exterior walls are generally comprised of a number of materials combined into a wall assembly. When properly designed and constructed, the assembly is the first line of defense between water and the interior of your building. It is essential that they be maintained properly (including regular refinishing and/or resealing with the correct materials).
  • storage areas: Storage areas should be kept clean.  Allow air to circulate to prevent potential moisture accumulation.
Act Quickly if  Water Intrusion Occurs
 
Label shut-off valves so that the water supply can be easily closed in the event of a plumbing leak. If water intrusion does occur, you can minimize the damage by addressing the problem quickly and thoroughly. Immediately remove standing water and all moist materials, and consult with a building professional. Should your building become damaged by a catastrophic event, such as fire, flood or storm, take appropriate action to prevent further water damage, once it is safe to do so. This may include boarding up damaged windows, covering a damaged roof with plastic sheeting, and/or removing wet materials and supplies. Fast action on your part will help minimize the time and expense for repairs, resulting in a faster recovery.

From Protect Your Property From Water Damage - InterNACHI http://www.nachi.org/waterdamage.htm#ixzz2mmuapvY4

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Mold Remediation Inspection: How Bad is Too Bad?



If you're considering buying a foreclosed home, a house that's sat vacant since the owners left, you may find a diamond in the rough that has some minor repairs like peeling paint or maybe a ripped screen door. You may find yourself saying, "We can do this. It's not a bad deal." Just be careful. You never know what nightmares lie in wait inside for you.

This video takes you through a house where a pipe burst, and water more than a foot deep sat for months, unattended. Mold grew all over the house. Now ServiceMaster of Kalamazoo takes us through the house to see just how bad the damage is, and what they might be able to do to fix it. Ron Kilian - Operations Manager at ServiceMaster of Kalamazoo - is full of knowledge and expertise. And he says there's almost no house too damaged that they can't take care of.

So from minor repairs like a ripped screen door, to the major house repairs like a mold remediation...almost nothing is impossible with a renovation mortgage. Just make sure the experts are helping you out. And make sure that you educate yourself as well. Download the eBook "How to buy Foreclosed Homes" here: http://info.amerifirst.com/buying-for...

AmeriFirst Home Mortgage is a home buyers resource center and community mortgage banker. We focus on educating homeowners and home buyers in the details of the housing market and more.

AmeriFirst Home Mortgage is a division of AmeriFirst Financial NMLS ID 110139 | Equal Housing Lender

Thank you ServiceMaster of Kalamazoo for helping out on this video. http://smkazoo.com/

Friday, November 29, 2013

Dog Entry



I realize this is a REALLY nice deck and stairs–for Barney the dog–but shouldn’t they have been thinking about him in his old age–when he might need a ramp, a guard, a handrail or a mat?


This is just one example of the strange things that people do for their pets. In some instances these installations become rather easy points of entry for “others” besides the family dog.  Kicking in an opening like this is very easy, and if the doggie-door is in the house door, it is quite common to easily reach the locks on the inside from the doggie-door–much easier and quieter than breaking glass.

Of course dealing with Cujo once you have entered his trap is a whole nuther issue.



Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
Florida-State Certified Master Home Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Technician
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802
362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561
850.934.6800  (Office)                                          
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)  

                     
"Looking Beyond The Obvious"


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Monday, November 25, 2013

Choosing a Professional Roofing Contractor

A job done on time saves nine! There couldn't be a phrase truer than this when it comes to tackling roofing woes. Generally, re-roofing is a chore most homeowners don't think much about until it is too late. And when they are looking for a contractor, the urgency of the situation often leads them to make a wrong choice. Emergency or not, following are a few things to consider before choosing a professional roofing contractor;

a) Credentials: Are they accredited to an association or a manufacture contractor program? Make sure that the contractor that you choose is a member of a local trade body or contractor program. This provides better accountability when things go wrong. It also ensures that all roofing jobs are in accordance to local codes.

b) Inspection: Most roofing contractors offer a free inspection to determine the scope of the project and make an estimation of the costs involved. Does the contractor undertake a thorough inspection by checking your attic, chimney and other places where the roof penetrates? The inspection process should give you an idea about how the contractor's work mechanism.

c) Explanation: The contractor should explain the job process in detail. Would he be charging for the defective shingles on a prorated basis or otherwise? What would be the labor charges? Is there a warranty for his service? Would the job also include a thorough clean up of the roof? Who would be responsible for the cleanup after the job's done, including cleaning of the yard and disposing surplus material.

d) Quality Materials: If choosing a contractor who is a part of the manufacturer conducted program, materials wouldn't be an issue as their quality would be controlled by the manufacturer himself. But if it is not so, you will have to determine the quality of the materials including the warranty and guarantee.

e) Insurance: All licensed and approved contractors should offer comprehensive liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance. Before choosing a contractor, ensure that all of these certificates are current and valid. Workers who are injured when working in your property are your liability unless they are covered under the workers' compensation insurance or other relevant insurance cover.

f) Costs: Contractors who adhere to mandatory regulations like workers insurance charge more than those who do not. Simple workers' compensation insurance can increase costs by almost 20%. If they are licensed they would naturally be offering insurance cover that would reflect in the final costs. But not all states require their contractors to be licensed. Thus, the first thing to do is to check if your state requires contractors to be licensed.


The Author of this article is a specialist in roofing in Salt Lake City, Utah and offers roof repair through their company Lake City Exteriors, Inc.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dave_L_Brown

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Wildlife Control at Home

Control Wildlife Damage Around the Home with Common-Sense Control Methods
 
Whether you are a home gardener, enjoy landscaping around your home, or just own your own home, there are times when certain species of wildlife can become a nuisance and cause damage to plants, and even greater economic losses. Wildlife damage can occur throughout the year, but the fall and winter months are times when food supplies and cover may become more limited for many wildlife species, causing them to find your home or landscape an attractive place to call home. Solving wildlife damage problems may seem out of your control.  But most often, you have more control over the problem than you think. It might not be easy, but if you think through the problem and put forth some effort, you can often cut your losses and maybe even eliminate them. If you have concerns or questions about wildlife, you can ask your InterNACHI inspector about them during your next scheduled inspection. InterNACHI members are the best-trained inspectors in the industry.  
 
Many different species of wildlife can become a nuisance and cause problems, under certain conditions. Raccoons, skunks, snakes, woodchucks and other rodents, such as moles, house mice, and tree squirrels can often cause problems. In addition, whitetail deer populations have increased in many urban environments to the point where they are becoming a nuisance by grazing on landscape plantings. Other problem wildlife can include starlings, pigeons, sparrows, or the woodpecker damaging the wood siding on your home, just to name a few.
 
Think Through the Problem
 
People experiencing a problem caused by critters usually want an easy, quick solution and often ask, "Is there something I can spray to get rid of this pest?" It is never quite that easy. Preventing and controlling wildlife damage requires a thought process, and often includes using integrated pest-management techniques. A successful wildlife damage program often makes use of a combination of control options, and usually begins with an accurate assessment of the damage and identification of the desired outcome. Wildlife damage management is the opposite of managing property to attract wildlife. To manage for wildlife, you must make sure that animals have sufficient food, water, and cover throughout the year. If you have unwanted animals around your home, it is a sure bet that there is food, water and cover in the area. The solution is to remove at least one of these elements.  And if you can remove two, that’s even better.
 
Try this sequence in thinking through a wildlife damage problem:
  • Identify the wildlife species causing the problem. This is the most important step. Correctly identifying the species of wildlife causing damage may seem simple, but it can be challenging, under certain circumstances. Learn about the life history and habitat requirements for the wildlife species that may be a potential problem in your area.
  • Are there cultural techniques which you could use to modify the habitat and reduce the chances of having a wildlife damage problem? For instance, there may be certain plants which could be used in your home landscape that might not be an attractive food source for deer. Would more frequent mowing or herbicide use reduce the amount of weedy cover needed for a buildup of rodent populations?
  • Is there some way you can keep the animal causing damage from getting into the site?
  • If you can’t build them out, can you repel them from the area?  Sometimes, you can use chemical, home-made, visual or sound repellents to solve and control a problem.
  • If you can’t put up an effective barrier or repel the animals from the problem site, the last step may involve removing from the area the animals that are causing the damage. It may be necessary to trap, shoot, use gas cartridges in dens, or use poison baits to control a wildlife damage problem. Of course, when considering these alternatives for controlling most wildlife species, you should check with a wildlife conservation agent or local animal control agent to get approval. Often, these persons will also provide some assistance.
  • Remember that no entire species of wild animal is a nuisance or pest all the time. The trick is to deal only with the animal(s) causing damage, not try to eradicate the entire population.
  • A final consideration: Is it worth the effort? It takes quite a bit of time and money to solve and control a wildlife damage problem. Can you tolerate some damage or losses caused by wildlife? Remember that the aesthetic benefits derived from viewing wildlife, and the importance of managing habitats for those wildlife species you wish to attract to your property. Ask yourself if the economic loss is greater than the control cost. If it is, then it is worthwhile to develop and implement a wildlife damage control program.
Living With Wildlife

Wild animals contribute to our enjoyment of nature and outdoor recreation, but they can also damage property, agriculture, and natural resources, and threaten human health and safety. Equipped with the right information and tools, most homeowners can solve their own problems and learn to live with wildlife. For example, trimming trees and shrubbery are ways of changing a habitat to make it less attractive to unwanted flocks of birds or even snakes.
 
The following information may assist homeowners in keeping that curious raccoon out of the garbage can, that persistent rabbit or deer out of the garden, that goose or duck out of the backyard pool, that woodpecker off the siding, and that swooping bat out of the attic. Caution should always be taken to avoid overly aggressive animals.
 
Squirrels and Other Rodents
To keep these animals from becoming a permanent part of the family home and yard: use screens on vents and fan openings; keep doors and windows in good repair; tighten eaves; replace rotten boards; cap the chimney; trim overhanging trees; remove bird feeders or use squirrel-proof feeders; and remove acorns and other nuts from the yard. Chipmunks can be deterred by removing denning habitat, which includes logs, rock walls, and stones.
 
Woodchucks
Also known as groundhogs, these animals sometimes burrow near buildings, browse in gardens, and damage fruit trees and ornamental shrubs. Fencing can help reduce woodchuck damage. The lower edge of the fence should be buried at least 10 inches into the ground to prevent burrowing. The fence should be 3 to 4 feet high, with a surrounding electric hot-shot wire placed 4 to 5 inches off the ground.
 
Opossums and Skunks
Opossums and skunks become a problem to homeowners by raiding garbage cans and bird feeders; eating pet foods; and living under porches, low decks, open sheds, and any other areas that provide shelter. Skunks also dig holes in lawns, golf courses and gardens. Both animals sometimes kill poultry and eat eggs. To keep opossums and skunks from denning under buildings, seal off all foundation openings with wire mesh, sheet metal, or concrete. Chicken coops can be protected by sealing all ground-level openings into the buildings and by closing the doors at night. Foraging in garbage cans may be eliminated by providing tight-fitting lids and straps.
 
Bats
Bats prefer to avoid human contact; however, they are known to establish roosts in attics and abandoned buildings. Building and attic roosts can be eliminated by sealing entry and exit holes (after the bats have left) with such materials as 1/4-inch hardware cloth, caulking or wire mesh. If a bat makes its way into the house, you can usually encourage it to leave after dark by turning on lights and opening windows and doors.
 
Rabbits
Rabbits can be kept out of the garden and away from ornamental plants and small trees by using products containing repellents, such as Hinder, or by placing a 2-foot poultry fence around the area. It is important to bury the fence at least 6 inches beneath the surface of the ground. For information about taste repellents, check your local farm and garden center. Before using any chemical repellents, read the label carefully, and check with your state pesticide regulatory agency for application guidelines.
 
Raccoons
Raccoons are attracted to easy food sources, such as garden produce, garbage, and pet food. To help prevent scavenging, use metal trash cans that are fastened to a pole or other solid object. A strap or latch that secures the lid of the garbage can is also helpful. To keep raccoons out of the garden, use two strands of electric livestock fence. The strands should be placed atn 4 and 8 inches, respectively, off the ground and surround the entire garden. Exercise caution when implementing this exclusionary method in urban areas.  Raccoons will also readily inhabit attics, chimneys and sheds. Use metal flashing and 1-inch mesh hardware cloth to block entrances.
 
Snakes
The best way to keep snakes out of your house and yard is to seal cracks and openings around doors, windows, water pipes, attics and foundations. Removing logs, wood piles, and high grass, and controlling insects and rodents are also helpful. Remove non-poisonous snakes from inside buildings by placing piles of damp burlap bags in areas where snakes have been seen. After the snakes have curled up beneath the bags, remove the bags and snakes from the building. To remove dangerous snakes, call a professional pest control company.
 
Woodpeckers
These birds damage buildings by drilling holes into wooden siding, eaves and trim boards, especially those made of cedar and redwood. If the pecking creates a suitable cavity, the bird may use it for nesting. Effective methods of excluding woodpeckers include placing lightweight mesh nylon or plastic netting on the wooden siding beneath the eaves, covering pecked areas with metal sheathing, and using visual repellents, such as "eye-spot" balloons.
 
Deer
Deer feed on row crops, vegetables, fruit trees, nursery stock, stacked hay, and ornamental plants and trees. Deer can be discouraged by removing supplemental food sources, and by using scare devices and repellents. The only sure way to eliminate deer damage is to fence the deer out. A wire-mesh fence is effective if it is solidly constructed and at least 8 feet high. Electric fencing also helps reduce damage.
 
Coyotes and Foxes
These animals may carry rabies and sometimes prey on domestic pets, rabbits, ducks, geese, chickens, young pigs and lambs. Coyotes also kill calves, goats and deer. Net-wire and electric fencing will help exclude foxes and coyotes; however, because they are good climbers, a roof of net wire on livestock pens may also be necessary. For more information about fencing, contact your local county extension office.
 
The protection of livestock and poultry is most important during the spring denning period. Foxes and coyotes will often den close to farm buildings, under haystacks, and inside hog lots and small pastures used for lambing. Shed lambing and farrowing in protected enclosures can be useful in preventing predation on young livestock. Additionally, noise- and light-making devices, such as the Electronic Guard, may keep these predators away. Guard dogs are also useful in preventing predation on sheep. Regrettably, dispersal methods are not effective in all situations, so other methods, including trapping or snaring, may have to be used.
 
Mountain Lions and Bears
As bear and lion habitats continue to be encroached upon by housing expansion, interactions between these animals and humans continues to increase. Bears are noted for destroying cornfields and trees, scavenging in garbage cans, demolishing the interiors of cabins and campers, and killing livestock. Lions are serious predators of sheep, goats, domestic pets, large livestock, poultry, bighorn sheep, and deer. Typical bear and lion predation on sheep leaves 10 or more killed in a single attack, and both species have been known to attack humans.
 
Prevention is the best method of controlling bear and lion damage. Heavy woven and electric fencing can effectively deter bears and lions from attacking livestock and damaging property. Loud music, barking dogs, exploder cannons, fireworks, gunfire, nightlights, scarecrows, and changes in the position of objects in the depredation area often provide temporary relief. The best way to protect pets is to keep them inside an enclosed kennel or shelter. Using guard dogs, removing garbage and dead carcasses, and placing crops and beehives at considerable distances away from timber and brush may reduce damage by bears. Mountain lions also prefer to hunt where escape cover is close by; removal of brush and trees within a quarter of a mile of buildings and livestock may reduce lion predation.
 
Professional relocation of damaging mountain lions and bears is sometimes necessary. For more information about state laws and regulations concerning relocation or lethal control of mountain lions and bears, contact your state wildlife agency.
 
Remember, think through your problem before attempting to invest in a control program. What is the easiest, cheapest, most practical way to control the problem? What will be the least hazardous to pets, people, and non-target wildlife? Are you losing enough money to justify a control expense? Your goal should be to reduce damage to a level you can live with.
 

From Wildlife Control at Home - InterNACHI http://www.nachi.org/wildlife.htm#ixzz2lSqF9gFe