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November 2006 Newsletter

Water Heater Blues

Actually, a home occupant’s water heater blues may be caused by white particles in the water supply system and can be observed by unscrewing the faucet aerator at any sink. These particles come from a disintegrating plastic water heater dip tube and are prevalent in water heaters manufactured from 1993-1997.

The dip tube is the inlet tube in the water heater that brings the cold water into the bottom of the water heater. This allows the upper part of the tank to hold only hot water and thus prevents incoming cold water from mixing with existing hot water. As the tube breaks up, it permits the incoming cold water to mix with the hot water, reducing efficiency. If your shower time with hot water is becoming shorter and shorter, this may be the reason.

Defective dip tubes become brittle from the hot water. As the end of the pipe disintegrates, small white particles circulate and accumulate in the strainers and aerators of plumbing fixtures. To check your home’s system, first determine the manufacture date of your water heater, located in the serial number on the data plate. If the water heater was built between 1993 and 1997, unscrew an aerator at any faucet and look for eggshell colored particles. Fortunately, they are not toxic, since they made of polypropylene.

If your water heater is affected, call your plumber. The manufactures will not stand behind this defect unless the water heater is still under warranty.

Electrical Nonmenclature

A rose by any other name is still a rose. However, an electrical receptacle is not an outlet. Try these words for precision:

• A single electric wire that can carry electricity is a conductor. Conductors have many uses, such as the service drops overhead, service entrance conductors, feeder conductors, grounding electrode conductors and branch circuit conductors.

• Two or more conductors in an insulating jacket is a cable. We usually call cables wires but cable is more precise. The most common form of cable is called Romex. But Romex is a trade name for cable manufactured by Southwire. The proper name is non- metallic sheathed cable (listed as NM cable). Metallic cable we call BX, but this is GE’s trade name for armored cable (listed as AC).

• Finally, an electric receptacle is the apparatus in which we insert plug- and cord-connected electrical equipment. An outlet is any place electricity is supplied to electrical equipment, such as a dedicated cable to an electric clothes dryer or oven or to a receptacle. Hopefully, your home inspection reports will use this nomenclature accurately, but to me, I plan to plug my lamp into
the nearest outlet.

From the Desk of
Arthur Lazerow

This year has been difficult for home
inspectors. A precipitous fall in the number
of sales has reduced the number of inspections to be performed. Some how, with continuing success of our marketing program, especially in the area of newly licensed Realtors, with excellent financial management and with healthy production of lead-based paint inspections and other environmental testing work, we have managed to remain profitable as a company.

 It is in this context that I am pleased to announce that Alban Home Inspection Service, Inc. has made a significant donation to the Strathmore Music Center and has become a corporate sponsor.

My wife and I were late to discover Strathmore Music Center. Located at the corner of Tuckerman Lane and Rockville Pike, it is only ten minutes away from home. Strathmore had been in operation over a year when we were told that an outstanding English jazz singer, Stacy Kent, would be performing.

We bought tickets and I must say, our first concert was a “wow” experience. Strathmore Music Center is a first class performance viewing venue. Driving there is convenient and parking is free. Every seat offers an intimate view of the performer and the hall is tuned perfectly to enhance the audience’s appreciation of the performer’s sound. After Stacy Kent, we heard Josh Redmond and the San Francisco Jazz Collection, followed by both the Baltimore Symphony and the National Philharmonic.

We became believers that Montgomery County is now blessed from a performance arts perspective. Strathmore offers dance, opera, jazz, popular and country music, besides classical music. Strathmore Hall Foundation offers a wide range of performances, including concerts last month by Bernadette Peters and next month by the Beach Boys, and in 2007, the Irish Tenors, Ramsey Lewis and Placido Domingo. Tickets are reasonably priced, and the overall experience is extraordinarily pleasant.

The more I attended events, the more I became convinced that citizens and businesses of Montgomery County and surrounding areas should support the Strathmore Music Center financially. I was told that ticket sales do not pay for the entire cost of operating Strathmore. Only a forty-five minute drive from Frederick, an hour drive from Hagerstown or twenty minutes from Gaithersburg/Germantown or the District of Columbia, where else is such first class and affordable entertainment available?

There are four unique and distinct organizations presenting entertainment. The Strathmore Hall Foundation offers free outdoor concerts during the summer on their grounds and a full schedule of concerts in both the main hall and the mansion during the remainder of the year. They also have a full program of educational events and art exhibitions. Washington Performing Arts Society, the renowned concert promoters in Washington, offers six shows entitled “Celebrity Series at Strathmore” this year. Performers include Emanuel Ax, pianist, and Pinchas Zukerman and Joshua Bell, violinists.

The Baltimore Symphony Orchestra is world famous and has 31 concert and special performances scheduled during the 2006-2007 season. Finally, the National Philharmonic has fourteen concerts this year, from Mozart’s masterpiece opera The Marriage of Figaro to Handel’s Messiah for Christmas to a collection of classical favorites. This is an amazing selection of entertainment located in Montgomery County.

In this spirit, Alban has made a long term commitment to support Strathmore Hall Foundation as a corporate sponsor. We are proud to be doing our part to help the arts proper in our back yard. In addition, I have established a program for all Alban employees, in which the company will treat every family to a concert annually. My belief is that as soon as we learn how easy it is to attend and how pleasant the experience is, everyone will keep an eye on the Strathmore schedule. Hopefully, the arts will become a regular part of our otherwise busy lives.

Permit me to recommend to everyone reading this Alban newsletter to make an effort to visit Strathmore Music Center in person. Pick your favorite music for the first time and purchase tickets. During the Month of November, there are over 40 events on the schedule. You will not be disappointed. I have found the Internet ticket purchase system so easy that I use it exclusively.

P.S. Their website address is www.Strathmore.org.

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