Your home is a fairly complicated structure that contains many different systems and components. In order to protect your largest investment, it’s imperative that you know as much as possible about your home. So in this post I’m going to discuss 5 things I believe every homeowner should know about their home, but probably don’t.
Backdrafting. Backdrafting is a term used to describe a situation where you have combustion gas spillage from gas powered applainces. In other words, the by products of combustion, flue gases like carbon monoxide, are not properly exhausted through the chimney flue but instead are exhausted into the home. Backdrafting can occur with furnaces, fireplaces, wood stoves, and water heaters when the air pressure in the house is lower than outside air pressure. An exhaust fan from a bathroom or kitchen or running a clothes dryer can cause the negative indoor air pressure that leads to back drafting as they move air out of the house, which must be replaced from the outside. If the doors and windows are all closed and the house is sealed very tightly, the replacement air may come down a chimney and can cause back drafting of combustion appliances. To prevent back drafting, a homeowner should try to create a neutral pressure in the home. All fuel-burning appliances should draw their intake air directly from the outside. The homeowner should also limit the use of high powered exhaust devices, in particular cook top exhaust fans and clothes dryers, unless they are directly connected to a make-up air supply.
Main water shut off valve. Every home should be equipped with a main water shut off valve and every homeowner should know its location. In the event of a serious plumbing leak this could save you thousands of dollars in water damage. They are typically located under the house in the basement or crawlspace. If your water is supplied from a public source the valve will typically be located along the foundation wall facing the street. For a private well, the valve will typically be located by the pressure tank under the house or a pump house. If for some reason the valve is located in a less than ideal place, such as the far corner from the crawlspace access, then please look into having a licensed plumber move the valve so that you can have quick and easy access to it. In most cases you can easily follow the supply plumbing to the service entrance, the point where the main water line enters the house.
Electrical Service Panels. In recent years home inspections have revealed defects and safety concerns with some electrical panels and equipment. Specifically, Federal Pacific Electric “Stab-Loc” service panels and service panels containing Zinsco equipment. There have been multiple reports of problems associated with these electrical panels which could affect the safety and habitability of the home. Therefore if your home has either of these brands you are advised to contact a licensed electrical contractor to determine if the panel should be replaced and the approximate cost of replacement. For more information please visit: www.inspect-ny.com/fpe/fpepanel.html and http://www.inspectapedia.com/electric/Zinsco.htm.
Washing Machine Discharge Standpipe Size: The standpipe is the drain that takes the water discharged from the washing machine. Homes that were built more than 25 years ago typically only have an inside diameter of 1-1/2 inches while modern standpipes have an inside diameter of 2 inches. This can become an issue because modern washing machines discharge water faster than the pipe can handle. Therefore the combination of an older standpipe and a modern washing machine can mean wash water overflowing the standpipe and flooding the room. If this is the case with your house then please consider having a plumber install a larger diameter standpipe.
The 65 degree rule: Your air conditioning equipment should not be operated when the ambient temperature is below 65 degrees F. In fact, most manufacturers require that the outside temperature must be greater than 65 degrees Fahrenheit for at least 24 hours prior to operation. Doing so can permanently damage the compressor by leaking liquid refrigerant into the oil filled compressor. Also, if the power to the unit has been turned off for more than 24 hours, perhaps waiting for a replacement part or off season shut down, do not operate without first switching on the circuit breaker 24 hours in advance. This allows the compressor to sufficiently warm the oil to prevent refrigerant migration.
I hope the above information is useful and helps homeowners protect and get the most out of their largest investment.