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About montana

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    Home Inspector
  1. The newer NEST thermostats claim to also act as smoke and CO detectors. https://nest.com/smoke-co-alarm/meet-nest-protect/ Do NEST thermostats meet fire code requirements? I tend to view them the same way as I think about security alarm systems that also act as smoke and fire detectors. They may work fine for a prior homeowner, but what if the next home buyer chooses not to pay the subscription fees and the system is inactive? I always felt you could not rely on alarm systems because they could be de-activated for any number of reasons, therefore standard smoke detectors should stil
  2. I would be careful about testing and reporting on leaks at gas meters and propane regulators. These have a vent that is designed to release gas at certain excess pressures. You will often detect gas "leaks" that are part of the normal function of the regulator; this seems especially true for propane tanks and regulators. (which is why there are clearance requirements between gas meters, regulators, tanks, and potential ignition sources like air conditioners and electrical panels).
  3. The 'exceptions' always throw me. Exceptions: 2.3. Return-air inlets shall not be located within 10 feet (3048 mm) of any appliance firebox or draft hood in the same room or space. 3. Rooms or spaces containing solid-fuel burning appliances, provided that return-air inlets are located not less than 10 feet (3048 mm) from the firebox of such appliances. Ok, it is a big family room that opens to a hallway, and stairway to the main floor. So there is plenty of air capacity, even with combustion air for the wood stove. But the way that I interpret it, because it is big room it
  4. My concern is that any smoke exhaust from the wood stove would enter into the HVAC duct system (i.e. when you open the door of the wood stove). To answer the other question: It is not the only return vent in the home (2 more on main level). I was not aware that if there was more than one vent, it was ok to place one within 10 feet of a drafting combustion device. Is is ok if there are more returns?
  5. Return vent in ceiling of finished basement, I'd guess 9' ceiling without pulling out a tape measure. A wood stove just underneath the return vent. The home buyer wanted an heating expert in addition to a home inspector. So, why didn't the licensed, certified, professional HVAC contractor that was there there mention this as a concern to the buyer? Am I missing something? (sorry about the quality of the picture) I also got on a ladder and pulled the return vent cover off to make sure that the wood stove exhaust vent wasn't passing through the return air chase (it is not, there is blockin
  6. Felt like I was standing on my head. House built in 1960. Old 2x4 rafters with what looks like black tar used to cement a silvery rolled roofing on the underside of the roof. But the black ooozy tar compound looks like it dripped UPWARD. I would almost think that the the rafters were originally used somewhere else lying down, and then flipped upside down and re-claimed as rafters. Any other ideas? I was stumped. Oh, don't worry about all the brown mold, that is a side issue to my question here. Click to Enlarge 60.08 KB Click to Enlarge 59.59 KB
  7. While I agree that you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink, you're right that any idiot can mis-use or abuse any house or item in a house. However, we have established some rules that the builder should at least provide some basic working elements. Just because the homeowner may remove the smoke alarm because he got tired of hearing it beep when the batter runs low, the builder is still required to install smoke alarms in the proper locations. So, again, my question. Is a builder required to provide a basic functioning heating system, even though the home owner may
  8. The draft standard is available for review here: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/buildings/appliance_standards/residential/pdfs/cacfurn_dfr_final-version.pdf Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Residential Furnaces and Residential Central Air Conditioners and Heat Pumps 10/31/2011 https://www.federalregister.gov/arti...nd-residential "The direct final rule published on June 27, 2011 (76 FR 37408) became effective on October 25, 2011. Compliance with the standards in the direct final rule will be required on May 1, 2013 for non-weatherized furnaces and on Ja
  9. What are the minimum heating standards for a home? I am thinking specifically a home that has a wood stove as the sole source of heat. HUD has established Minimum Property Requirements for purposes of appraisals, "Homes with a wood burning stove as a primary heat source must also have a permanently installed conventional heating system that maintains a temperature of at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit in areas with plumbing." In the IRC, R303.8 Required Heating: "When the winter design temperatures in Table R301.2(1) is below 60 degree F, every dwelling unit shall be provided with heating
  10. Jim, Yeah, I thought of testing it that way too, but not until after I got home. I may not get over that way for a while (about an hour away), but worth the thought. I found a picture like the one you have in "Electrical Inspections" by Doug Hansen et al, and it is described at having line and load connections. However, in the two panels I saw, the were no service feeders to the breakers (just circuit branch wiring), so at least in these panels the breakers must somehow be drawing power from a bus bar in the Magnitrip panels. Terry
  11. Zinsco - Line vs load side of breaker House is originally 1912, remodeled to 3 apartments for university students, would guess some work done in 50's or 60's. Two Magnitrip panels with Zinsco breakers. I will be calling out the electrical work for multiple other reasons, and I'm already aware of all the other complaints about Zinsco, FPE, etc. My question here is more academic and curiosity than anything. Looking at these breakers, they seem to have Line and Load sides of the breaker (like older Bulldog Pushmatic). Some of these single pole breakers have terminal screws, and branch ci
  12. The systems room containing 4 water heaters (3 provide hydronic heat for radiant floor heating, and 1 for DHW), is an exterior room off a walk-out basement. After original construction, a landing was added off a wrap-around deck, that is over the top of this systems room. So, now the 4 exhaust vents are under the deck landing. The nearest door or window is at least 16 feet away. I know lots of standards for exhaust vent on roof, near windows, etc, but is there any concern about an exhaust vent under a deck (not immediately near a door or window)? My first thought would be heat damage, but
  13. Jim, Thank you for YOUR reasoned and patient reply too. My inspection reports contain standard language in my Definition of Terms page that essentially states something similar to what you said. Guess nobody reads that part of the report. Now, if I can just communicate it properly to folks tomorrow, we'll all be winners.
  14. Are you THE Doug Hansen, co-author of "Electrical Inspection of Existing Dwellings". I loved your book, and have re-read it front to back many times over the years. Good job man. Yes, the first pic includes the main disconnect and the meter. Thank you for your well-reasoned and patient answer. What you say does make sense, and it helps a lot. I had called a different state inspector on this same question two or three years ago. and he said something similar, but also stated that even with an arrangement like this that there was some chance that the breakers might not operate proper
  15. Would like some support if I'm right, and correction if I'm wrong. About to enter a discussion with an electrician over this. Meter and service entrance panel are installed on exterior of house. This panel is grounded and bonded. Inside the wall is the "main panel' (or what I would call the main distribution panel). Three conductors come in through the back of the panel, the 2 hot service conductors, the 3rd service neutral, AND a bare grounding wire that attached to the left bus bar - which is attached to right bus bar, which has a bonding jumper to back of the panel enclosure. Equip
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