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Five things every homeowner should know to look for

So, I get asked this question all the time while doing site visits, “What do you see here that I need to fix right now?”  Often times there are a lot of things to talk about, but there are some pretty constant items that come up that almost always need to be addressed… here are 5 of the most important:

1) GFCI OUTLETS: (ground fault circuit interrupters) should be installed to protect outlets within 6′ of any water source, in all unfinished spaces, and for all exterior outlets.  These are the outlets with the “push button” resets on them.

2) OPEN SPLICES: all electrical splices should be made in a UL approved junction box with a proper cover.  The importance of this is a basic one – the box and cover contain the fire in the event that a junction fails and begins throwing sparks or putting off enough heat to ignite combustible materials.  Going the extra mile here and using all metal boxes and covers is preferable.

3) PUSHMATIC BREAKERS: these are the old style of breakers that can be identified as the ones that have to be “pushed” to turn off and on.  They are widely known in the trades to be an inferior product that is at the end of it’s life span.  These breakers often fail to work correctly when overloads occur.

4) EXTENSION CORDS: extension cords are only designed for temporary use.  IF they have to be used as a long standing solution then they need to be 14 or 12 gauge cords with a ground wire (3 prong) so that the conductors in the cord are sized correctly to the breaker that protects the circuit.  Failure to do so – like using one of  those little brown 16 gauge 2 prong cords to run your toaster or microwave – could lead to the cord catching fire or failing long before the breaker that protects the circuit is designed to trip.

5) 2 PRONG ADAPTERS: in a lot of older homes that have not been updated the electrical circuits do not have a ground.  Using a 2 > 3 prong adapter – Especially for APPLIANCE LOADS – is a poor decision.   If the equipment that you are trying to plug in has 3 prongs then it needs a ground.

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