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Unsafe at any altitude or what is that rusting hulk?

  • By 7016461052
  • 11 May, 2017

Fred Freer, ACI, CRI, CMI

While this rusting hulk may appear to be a furnace, it is in fact a garbage and trash incinerator.  Can you imagine the neighborhood aroma after using one of the to burn the garbage? I still occasionally find them in homes that I inspect and a few appear to have been used in the not too distant past.Incinerators like this have been banned from use for decades for multiple reasons.  Natural gas companies "red tagged" them (to prevent their use) because the gas valve lacked adequate safety systems.  Outdoor air pollution was common as the combustion was typically incomplete.  And, if the incinerator wasn't used regularly, decaying and partially combusted "stuff" remained dormant in the lower ash drawer.  Clearly the concept was ahead of the technology.  But incinerators are making a come-back as folks begin to evaluate the tons of stuff placed in the weekly trash and community efforts at recycling are making a dent in the volume of materials that we throw out each week. 

Four Square Home Inspections Blog

By 7016461052 11 May, 2017
While this rusting hulk may appear to be a furnace, it is in fact a garbage and trash incinerator.  Can you imagine the neighborhood aroma after using one of the to burn the garbage? I still occasionally find them in homes that I inspect and a few appear to have been used in the not too distant past.Incinerators like this have been banned from use for decades for multiple reasons.  Natural gas companies "red tagged" them (to prevent their use) because the gas valve lacked adequate safety systems.  Outdoor air pollution was common as the combustion was typically incomplete.  And, if the incinerator wasn't used regularly, decaying and partially combusted "stuff" remained dormant in the lower ash drawer.  Clearly the concept was ahead of the technology.  But incinerators are making a come-back as folks begin to evaluate the tons of stuff placed in the weekly trash and community efforts at recycling are making a dent in the volume of materials that we throw out each week. 
By 7016461052 08 May, 2017
Let's see just how many things are wrong with this picture. Hmmmm?  The electrical panel cover is missing so that is a shock hazard.  The electrical panel is located in a closet and that location has not been permitted for decades.  Temporary wiring to who knows what has been double-tapped on the fuses and is at risk of disconnection because the wiring is not properly routed through the panel case and secured at the wall.   The fuses (over-current protection) are too large for the circuit wiring and present a clear fire potential. Given the number of circuits, this panel is certainly undersized for this home and a licensed electrician should estimate for a new panel service to be located elsewhere.  Look at all of the spare fuses on the shelf.  This homeowner was prepared to regularly replace blown fuses  due to circuit overloading.  Knob and tube wiring is present in this home protected (I don't think so) by these fuses.  The presence of knob and tube wiring might be okay if the fuse or circuit breaker size is correct (typically 15 amp).  A higher level of circuit protection for the knob and tube circuits would be afforded by arc fault circuit interrupting (AFCI) breakers.  Some insurance carriers will not underwrite homes with knob and tube wiring unless they are arc fault protected.  In summary, this panel is an immediate personal safety and fire hazard.  You don't want this in your home!
By 7016461052 03 May, 2017
So what you see here is knob and tube wiring that has been spliced, not soldered, not taped and not in an electrical junction box.  This is a serious fire safety and shock hazard.  This is also all too common and this job cries out for a licensed electrician.  By the way, that white speckled stuff is vermiculite which is almost certainly asbestos containing material that poses additional health risks and should be managed professionally.  
By 7016461052 21 Apr, 2017
Sometimes as home inspectors, we discover the strangest things.  This looks like a self-powered outlet!!! With a little research, we determined that this wire actually powered an outlet in the next room.  Wiring like this is dangerous, certainly not safe, poses a risk of fire or shock hazard and violates contemporary building standards.   This was apparently a home-owner's "quick fix" to get power to the next room.  If you were buying this home with this wiring present, would you know what to do with it?   Our job, as home inspectors, is to identify situations like this and provide detailed explanations for removal/correction for safety.    

By 7016461052 07 Apr, 2017

Look closely my friends and sure enough...the panty hose serve as a lint collector for a clothes dryer. The good news is that, a periodic visit to the garage will reveal when the "legs" are nearly full and can be emptied. The bad news is that dryers that vent to a garage add warm moisture that may lead to fungal growth and combustible dryer lint that, even in small quantities may be flammable.

 Clothes dryers should always be vented to the exterior through rigid or metal flexible piping to a non-restricted (not screened) exhaust and equipped with a back-draft damper.

 Here is some information about safe dryer venting that I distribute to my customers.

 All dryer ducting must be a minimum of 4" in diameter and shall not be reduced in size. Clean, unobstructed, frictionless ducts encourage air flow efficiency, quicken drying time, add longevity to clothing life and reduce utility bills.

  • Flexible transition hose between the dryer and the wall outlet should be either the aluminum metal flex or rigid aluminum duct (do not use foil or plastic vinyl as they collect combustible lint and will burn when overheated).
  • Duct joints shall be installed so that the male end of the duct points in the direction of the airflow.
  • Duct joints should be secured with metal (foil) tape: not duct tape. Do not use rivets or screws in the joints or anywhere else as these will encourage lint accumulation.
  • Dryer vents shall always be to the exterior (not to attics, basements, chimneys or garages) and must not be screened or obstructed.
  • Dryer vents shall not be installed within 12" of the ground or in areas where snow will prevent a free air flow and proper exhaust. The vent hood must point downward.  
  • Dryer vents must be 25' in developed length or less without the addition of an approved in-line dryer booster fan. Deduct 5 feet for each 90 degree elbow and 2.5 feet for each 45 degree elbow. These dryer vent lengths may vary by manufacturer.  
  • Kinked, crushed or severely bent dryer vents will limit air flow and should be eliminated or minimized. (Consider the installation of an in-wall "Dryer Box."
  • Dryer ducting accumulates combustible lint and should be inspected by a Certified Dryer Exhaust Technician (CDET) as certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA.org) periodically (at the time of a home purchase and perhaps every three or four years thereafter). I recommend that you periodically examine the dryer exhaust vent for cleanliness (lack of lint) and free air flow (when the dryer is operating).  
  • Clean the dryer vent screen before or after each dryer use. If clothing is still damp at the end of a typical drying cycle, or drying requires longer times than normal, this may be a sign that the lint screen or the exhaust duct is blocked.
  • Installation of vertical dryer vents is discouraged as these tend to accumulate dryer lint and many dryers do not have fans forceful enough to elevate the warm air and lint.
  •  Finally, and underscored again, the use of the white vinyl flex pipe is all but completely prohibited, both by building departments and appliance manufacturers. Some municipalities allow or at least do not do not discourage the foil (Mylar) covered flex pipe but almost all appliance manufacturers insist on the use of the aluminum rigid or flexible piping (ducting).

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