Alban Home Inspection Service

What Is A GFCI?

A GFCI is a ground-fault circuit interrupter. A small transformer senses the current that is flowing through the hot wire and the neutral wire. If the current differs by more than 0.5 milliampere, the presumption is that the current is leaking to the ground via some other path. This may be because of a short circuit to the frame or cabinet of an appliance, or to the ground lead, or through a person. Any of these situations are hazardous, so the GFCI trips, breaking the circuit.

GFCls do not protect against all kinds of electric shocks. If, for example, someone simultaneously touches the hot and neutral leads of a circuit and no part of his or her body is grounded, a GFCI won't help. All of the current that passes from the hot lead into the body would return via the neutral lead, failing to set off the GFCI.

The two pairs of connections on a GFCI outlet are not symmetric. One is labeled "load" and the other is "line." The incoming power feed must be connected to the line side or the outlet will not be protected. The load side can be used to protect all devices downline, protecting a series of outlets with a single GFCI.

Note: This newsletter is for informational purposes only. When getting involved with a project, please work within your ability. If you need help with a contractor or with any other home-related issue, please contact Alban Home Inspection Service with any questions. Thank You.
Vol4No8img3.gif (5626 bytes) Insulating The Attic
The attic is typically the largest area in the home responsible for energy loss. During the heating season, warm air rises and radiates up into the colder attic space. Colder climates require other recognized insulation.
It's not as critical in warmer climates; however, in the summer, heat builds up in t e attic and radiates down into the living spaces. Approximately six inches of R-19 insulation in warmer climates will help keep cooling costs down.

Vapor barriers should always face the heated side and should be continuous with no breaks. Adding to existing insulation is a good idea, as long as it is loose or unfaced (with no vapor barrier). A good option would be to install the rolls perpendicular to existing insulation rows. Locate air leaks in the ceiling and seal to prevent excessive air and heat loss. Consider using a smoke stick to locate less obvious drafts. Leave a three-inch space between the insulation and metal flues, chimneys, and recessed lighting fixtures unless the fixture is marked "I.C." (insulated ceiling). Don't insulate all the way along the ceiling joists and into the soffit without installing insulation baffles to allow airflow above the insulation. This is necessary for the important low to high ventilation to function properly.


System Maintenance

Electric Heat Pumps & Air Conditioners
By changing or washing the air filters of furnaces, electric heat pumps, and air conditioners about once a month, the life of the equipment will be prolonged, efficiency will be maintained, and indoor air quality will be improved. As with Vol4No8img4.gif (3176 bytes)
any ducting system, there are standard air filters, electrostatic air filters, and a few hybrid and miscellaneous types. These filters are typically located in the return ductwork or blower compartment at or near the bottom of the air handler or furnace.

At the start of each heating or cooling season, open the blower compartment and check the blower. Gently scrape or wipe the dirt off the blades. Be sure the power is off to the fan or unit because it may respond to a thermostat and turn on unexpectedly. Lightly oil the bearings and the shaft so the blower turns freely. For units with belt drives, check the belt for snugness, wear, and alignment.

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