Replace Your Old Two Prong Receptacle with a GFCI Receptacle

I wanted to share a good video on how to replace an old 2 prong receptacle with a GFCI receptacle and be in compliance with the NEC 2014 code.

Charles Schiller
Professional Inspector TREC #2717

Roof Leak Around Plumbing Vent Flashing

Are you buying a home? Don’t get stuck with those unexpected post closing expenses, schedule your home inspection today before you purchase that home.

Charles Schiller
Professional Inspector TREC #2717
Gateway Inspections Inc

Possible Issues With CSST Gas Line

1400LittleElmTr#1111CedarPark 019NOTE: Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) is a yellow, flexible, metal gas tubing used to supply natural gas or propane to gas appliances and HVAC systems for both residential and commercial structures. Since 1990, CSST has been installed in millions of homes in the U.S. It has been shown that an indirect lightning strike near a structure in which CSST has been installed can cause an electrical surge to travel into the structure, perforating in the sidewall of the CSST as the energy arcs from one metallic system to another seeking ground. This arcing can ignite the pressurized gas leaking from the perforation and cause potentially significant fire. Properly bonding and grounded a CSST system can reduce the likelihood of electrical arcing due to an indirect lightning strike. While current manufacturing guidelines and gas fuel codes require direct bonding of newly installed CSST, many installations, particularly older installations, may not meet the current installation requirements.
The Texas State Fire Marshall, in conjunction with the National Association of State Fire Marshalls (NASFM), has launched a safety campaign in Texas to bring awareness as to the importance of properly bonding CSST. The campaign encourages property owners that are aware CSST has been installed on their property to contact a licensed electrical contractor to determine if the gas system is properly bonded. For further information regarding this safety campaign, please visit I recommend consulting with the licensed electrician for proper bonding of gas lines and separation from other metallic systems.

Keep Water Shut Off Valve Boxes Clean

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When you are awakened early that cold morning and you hear water running in the house and you realize that you have to shut the water off to the house and fast or the house is about to flood. You run out to the water meter or valve box and realize the valve is covered with 3 to 4 inches of cold mud. Then you franticlly find a tool to help clean out the mud knowing the longer you take to turn off the water the more water you will have to clean up.

My friends please don’t let this scenario come true. Keep the valve box clear of mud and debris. Mud can get washed into the valve shut off box during heavy rains. It’s easier to do it during some warm afternoon than some night during a cold storm.

Charles Schiller
Professional Inspector TREC #2717

Under Sized Attic Appliance Work Platform

Having a sizeable work platform for service tech’s to easily access equipment in the attic is important. It will allow a technician to be able to efficiently work in front of the applicance without him being concerned he may fall through the attic. It should also result in a lower service bill. Make sure you have enough room, about 2′ wide, for your service professional to easily and safely service appliances in the attic.

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February TPREIA Greater Austin Chapter Meeting

Thank You Todd Ver Weire for the great presentation last night at the TPREIA Greater Austin Chapter (TGAC) meeting. The tips on how to protect your business was well presented and everyone had questions. Thanks once again to Todd Ver Weire with Law Office of Todd Ver Weire 512-368-7202

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Charles Schiller
Professional Inspector TREC #2717

Christmas Electrical System

Learn how to stay safe during the winter holidays
The winter holiday season is traditionally a festive and eventful time of year. Celebrations, family gatherings and visits from house guests traditionally increase in number during the season.

Unfortunately, statistics show that incidents of home fires and electrical accidents typically increase during winter months. According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 30 percent of home fire and 38 percent of home fire deaths occur during the months of December, January, and February.

There are steps that can be taken to reduce the risks of death and injury from a home fire this holiday season. It is critical that families keep fire safety in mind while enjoying this festive, exciting and extremely busy time of year.

Take steps to protect your family and home from holiday season fires.

Seasonal Fire Safety – There’s no place like home for the holidays and no better place to implement good fire safety practices.
Smoke Alarm Safety Tips – Smoke alarms save lives. Follow this simple guidance to ensure that your home is adequately protected by working, properly installed smoke alarms.
Space Heater Safety – As the temperature drops during the winter holiday season, many families turn to space heater to help warm their homes. Many are unaware, however, that the risk of fire from space heaters is much greater than from central heating equipment.
Holiday Cooking Safety – The kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where families gather to cook favorite recipes, share warm meals, and reconnect with each other, especially during the holidays. Unfortunately, it’s also where two of every five reported home fires start.
Holiday Decorating Safety – While decorative lights and other electrical decorations add to the splendor of the season, they can increase the risks of fire and electrical injuries if not used safely.
Extension Cord Safety – While extension cords are a convenient way to supply power right where you need it for your holiday decorations, they can also create hazards if not used safely.
Counterfeit Electrical Products – Unlike fake handbags, watches, or designer apparel, counterfeit electrical products pose significant safety hazards. Follow these guidelines to help identify these counterfeits.
Holiday Safety

Preparing To Install Christmas Lighting

Preparing To Install Christmas Lighting

Safety First – Use UL approved extension cords specific for outdoor use and look for lights rated for indoor/outdoor use. Check the Christmas lights package for this, the lighted length and how many strands to connect. Always plug into GFCI protected outlets.
Check your Lights – Frayed or damaged cords are a big NO. One faulty strand isn’t only a safety hazard, but could ruin your entire design.

Light Color – Believe it or not, white lights are not all the same color. LEDs typically have a bluish tint, whereas incandescent bulbs are slightly orange. Hang them side-by-side and they will look mismatched. Lights can even vary based on manufacturer and how old they are. Make it easy on yourself and buy new lights.

Light Clips – Forget staples, clothespins or any other contraption you’ve used in the past for mounting lights to your house. Light clips are your new best friend. There is something for every surface, simply read the package to find the one that fits your application.

Light Types – There are tons of different light types and colors – so have fun with them! Just make sure you group the same light-type together. For example, try using white lights on your bushes, but colored lights on your trees and entryway. Top it off with white icicle lights along your roofline.

LEDs will save you money on energy costs and you don’t have to worry about them overheating.
Icicle lights look great on the eaves of your roof – just make sure to cluster them together. If stretched too far apart the look is completely lost.
For your bushes, try net lights. These are like a blanket of lights. Simply lay them on your bushes, and boom, you’re done.

Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines in regard to safety instructions, care and maintenance, and use to be on the safe side.

Gateway Inspections Inc
Charles Schiller
Professional Inspector TREC #2717

CSST Gas Line Information

This is a great article about CSST flexible gas lines.

Straight out of Lubbock, Texas comes the latest escalation of a nationwide battle over how millions of American homes receive natural gas fuel. As Buddy Holly’s hometown considers becoming the first U.S. community to adopt a new standard for a certain type of gas piping, an advocacy foundation is asking big-box retailers Lowe’s, Home Depot and Menards to stop selling the “yellow CSST” pipe/tubing under question.

At issue, explains the non-profit Brennen Teel Foundation For Gas Line Safety, is a type of flexible gas tubing called “yellow CSST,” which stands for “corrugated stainless steel tubing.” Developed in Japan and prized for flexibility that allows it to survive earthquakes and empower easier installation than black iron pipe, CSST has been used for decades.

However, in recent years, yellow CSST has alarmed many because of house fires caused by lightning that hits homes, or near homes, and may damage the tubing. Lubbock officials determined the death of 31-year-old Brennen Teel was caused by yellow CSST failing after a 2012 lightning strike.

I’ve noted before how Brennen’s tragic death sparked an advocacy campaign and illustrates that America’s litigation system can push reform. Expansive testing of the gas tubing has been done by victim’s attorneys, and a strongly worded letter “warning” builders over the summer came not from regulators but from lawyers. (To anticipate comments: We all realize that the attorneys have a self-interest in the research, but I truly believe this effort goes beyond “client relations.”)

Lavera Vincent, executive director of the Teel Foundation, confirmed that the organization sent letters on Sept. 17th, to Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menards asking that they stop selling yellow CSST.

One worry: CSST should be installed by gas contractors who have been certified by the manufacturers. Given the history of yellow CSST, and the challenges with lightning and the reliance of contractors properly installing the product to specific manufacturer guidelines, it’s actually hard for me to understand why these big box stores would make it available where unsuspecting non-contractor homeowners could buy it and install it themselves.

In fact, sources tell us that the largest CSST manufacturers refuse to sell via the “big box” stores because of concerns that the general public does not have enough information or the expertise about how to properly install CSST.

“As you may know,” the Teel letter to retailers states, “yellow CSST has been linked to deaths and property damage due to lightning-related fire that can lead to perforation of this particular yellow gas piping.”

The letter also notes that “… certain new products on the market are adhering to a higher standard for lightning resistance (referred to as LC1027) which has proven effective. We request that you carry a safer product so consumers are unable to purchase yellow CSST off-the-shelf.”

Even when there are proper controls in place, the installation requires bonding and separating the yellow product in a specific way to make it safer when lightning hits a house. Despite extensive education efforts, there is little confidence that these steps are always achieved. That is probably why two of the leading manufacturers do not even sell “yellow” CSST anymore.

Apparently, only one leading manufacturer, Ward Manufacturing, Inc., owned by Hitachi is still selling yellow CSST in the U.S., joining two smaller players Proflex and Homeflex. This begs the question, why are Ward and others refusing to raise their standard for this gas piping when advancements in technology have created an alternative for American homeowners?

Moving to the higher standard is also a stated goal of Lubbock’s senior building officials.

Steve O’Neil, Lubbock’s chief building official for more than a quarter-century, has explained to National Courts Monitor producers that a special “fuel gas committee” was formed after Brennen’s death to look into their situation and is recommending that Lubbock become the first U.S. community to adopt the highest standard for CSST pipe going forward.

O’Neil explains that CSST comes in three broad categories known first by color: “yellow,” which was the go-to product for decades, and two kinds of more recent “black” CSST. He says a few brands control about 80-plus percent of the CSST market, so for shorthand he notes that the FlashShield brand is one type meeting a LC1027 standard while another common brand, CounterStrike, represents what’s known as the LC1024 standard. By comparison, the LC1027 tests the product to 8 times higher electrical arcing energy than the LC1024.

Generally, CSST made to the LC1027 standard incorporates a protective metal shield. And we should be clear that many building professionals contend that yellow CSST is safe, if properly installed, which includes proper bonding and physical separation from other metallic systems – thus the Teel request for “strong warning” if retailers continue to sell the pipe. The Teel Foundation disputes that, contending that the do-not-sell request “… is specific to yellow CSST product as it has been the subject of failure even with the proper bonding and ground of the product, including Brennen’s case.”

O’Neil, the Lubbock official, agrees that increased safety comes with evolving to the higher standards. He says “… there’s just a huge difference” in safety performance and the cost difference is really pennies per foot.

The fire-code community is taking notice of the Lubbock situation, in part because there are hundreds of CSST-related lawsuits around the country. In the U.S., where fire codes are a patchwork of local rules influenced by national standards, these cases are how change happens.

So far, Vincent and the Teel Foundation seem pleased with the quick acknowledgement of their request to the retailers. We’ll keep an eye out for their formal response.

As the debate ensues, anyone still selling yellow CSST should know that the “LC1027 standard” has some highly motivated activist-lawyers mobilizing to support new standards. So, in that world, all eyes on Lubbock.

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MORE: Yellow CSST Natural Gas

Gateway Inspections Inc
Charles Schiller
Professional TREC #2717

Hail Damaged Roof