Snaps from the Field

Electrical Wiring – April, 2023

What are we trying to achieve here? We’re not sure exactly what’s going on here with this electrical setup, but it looks like the breaker on the left was tripping and someone “solved” the problem by running three strands of magnet wire to an adjacent breaker. This would certainly stop the first breaker from tripping. Of course, it could also cause the house [...]

2023-10-31T10:16:31-07:00April 3rd, 2023|Electrical, Snaps from the Field|

Trap for Plumbing – March, 2023

This plumbing work stinks. Each plumbing fixture in a home connects to a drain/waste/vent (DWV) piping system that takes wastewater to the municipal sewer or a septic tank. Those sewers and septic tanks produce gases and foul odors that (unsurprisingly) we want to keep out of our homes. To do that, each fixture’s drain should have a trap that holds a small plug [...]

2023-06-14T16:54:33-07:00March 1st, 2023|Gas and Plumbing, Snaps from the Field|

Electrical Grounding – February, 2023

Et tu, plumber? Back in the day, this would have been the house’s “main grounding connection.” It’s where the electrical service was grounded to the house’s steel water pipe. Somewhere along the way, someone changed out the thicker steel pipe for a more slender copper tube. Disturbed rust on the screw threads shows where someone loosened the clamp to change it, but callously [...]

2024-02-23T11:35:32-08:00February 1st, 2023|Electrical, Snaps from the Field|

Gas Range (electric to gas conversion) – January, 2023

So you bought a gas range... Our intrepid homeowner switched from an electric range to a gas range. To accommodate the new range, any electrician could easily have changed the old 240-volt circuit to a 120-volt circuit, but our hero came up with a better way: Mangle the old range cord to make an “adapter.” Why is that a problem? Let us count [...]

2024-02-23T11:36:33-08:00January 1st, 2023|Gas and Plumbing, Snaps from the Field|

Plumbing vents and B-vents – December, 2022

A Sirius problem? A few things are wrong here. The most obvious is the plumbing vent pipe that supports a satellite dish. Our plumbing code calls this “flagpoling” and prohibits it outright. Plumbing vents shouldn’t support any other objects, including television aerials, satellite dishes, and, of course, flagpoles. Flagpoling can cause the horizontal portion of the vent (in the attic) to sag and [...]

2024-02-23T11:37:00-08:00December 1st, 2022|Gas and Plumbing, Snaps from the Field|

Plumbing drain system and test plug – November, 2022

The plumber knows he forgot something. He just can’t remember what. When plumbing a new house, plumbers must pressure-test the waste pipes to ensure that the system doesn't leak. Leaks might allow waste water or sewer gas to enter the house. So, when the drain piping is complete, the plumber inserts a test plug and fills the drain system with water all the [...]

2024-02-23T11:37:40-08:00November 1st, 2022|Gas and Plumbing, Snaps from the Field|

Basement floor drains – October, 2022

Basement floor drains are supposed to *remove* basement water, not bring it in. One of the reasons that home inspectors run so much water during an inspection is to reveal problems like this one. The basement floor drain is connected to the main sewer line, which doesn’t drain fast enough. As a result, some water backs up into the basement. While this might [...]

2023-06-14T16:54:00-07:00October 1st, 2022|Gas and Plumbing, Snaps from the Field|

TPR valves – September, 2022

Temperature and pressure relief (TPR) valves are critically important safety devices. When one fails or is improperly installed in a way that prevents it from doing its job, a traditional tank-style water heater can behave like a bomb (or a rocket). Here, a flush kit for a tankless water heater is installed upside down, placing a shut off valve between the hot water [...]

2023-06-14T16:53:56-07:00September 1st, 2022|Gas and Plumbing, Snaps from the Field|
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