Knob and Tube Wiring

   The majority of homes in Downtown Windsor were built prior to 1940.  As a result most still have knob and tube wiring. Knob and Tube  was an original form of wiring and was used from 1880 to the 1930s. As existing Knob and Tube (K& T) wiring gets older, insurance companies may deny coverage due to a perception of increased risk.  Several companies will not write new homeowners policies at all unless all K&T wiring is replaced, or an electrician certifies that the wiring is in good condition. Also, many institutional lenders are unwilling to finance a home with limited ampacity (current carrying capacity) service (which, as noted above, often goes hand-in-hand with K&T wiring), unless the electrical service is upgraded. It is usually easily seen in unfinished basements by the Cermamic knobs and tubes used.  Knob and tube wiring was eventually displaced from interior wiring systems because of the high cost of installation compared with use of power cables, which combined both power conductors of a circuit in one run (and which later included grounding conductors). Many home owners have removed visible knob and tube from their basements, as some insurance companies felt the old exposed wiring was unsafe.  However removal of knob and tube from within walls and ceilings throughout a house is often not completed do to its expense. As well some insureace companies only require removal of exposed wiring.   I have seen some home owners run steel armoured BX conduit outside of walls to replace knob and tube. While this may provide a ground, it is  unattractive.         Another way of recognising the potential presence of knob and tube wiring in a home is two prog plug receptacles.  As knob and tube never had grounds, older plug receptacles had only 2 sockets without a ground. 2 prong plug (receptacle) Two prong outlets are rather inconvenient as grounded plugs to not fit into them. In additon two prong plugs can create a safety hazard. The third prong on a plug is designed to give a fault path in the event the hot wire, or device that is connected to should short out. The absence of a ground path can lead to a electrical shock. For example a metal light fixture could become energized on its exterior, and the lack of grounding will not allow the breaker to trip. The problem is that you cant  necessarily just replace them with a three prong plug.  If the wiring system is not bonded to ground, then that would be an illegal fix. A three prong plug tester will show “open ground”.  In fact it is a good thing you can do yourself. Go around and check every...

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Fire Safety and Prevention in Windsor Essex

Fire Safety and Prevention in Windsor Essex Fire Prevention Tips Do not plug too many appliances into an electrical outlet. Make sure that combustibles are not too close to heaters, stoves and fireplaces. Never smoke in bed, or leave a burning cigarette in an ashtray. Do not use damaged or frayed electrical cords or extension cords. Keep matches and lighters out of the reach of children. Teach your children about the dangers of playing with fire. Never use extension cords with heating or air conditioning equipment. Purchase smoke alarms and fire extinguishers for each floor of your home. Have an Emergency Escape Plan! Practice it frequently! Develop an emergency exit plan and an alternate exit plan. The most obvious way out may be blocked by fire. A window will usually be the second way out of a bedroom. Make sure that screens or storm windows can be easily removed. If you live in a two story home, you should have an escape ladder for each occupied bedroom. Escape ladders are available for purchase, and they can easily be stored under a bed or in a closet. Establish a meeting place outside your home to be sure everyone has escaped. Every family member should participate in practicing escape drills at least two times per year. In the event of fire, do not stop to get dressed or gather valuables. Seconds count – do not search for the family pet. Teach your family that in a fire they must stay low to the floor to avoid smoke and intense heat. Passageways may be completely filled with dense smoke, so everyone should practice exiting on their hands and knees while blindfolded. Train family members to feel a closed door before exiting. If the door is warm, open it slowly, and close it quickly if heat or smoke rushes in. Establish a rule that once you’re out, you never re-enter under any circumstances. As soon as two people have reached the meeting place, one should call 911 from a neighbor’s house. Smoke Alarms Through education and media campaigns, most people now realize the importance of smoke alarms, and most homes in North America have them. Recommendations: Purchase a smoke alarm for every floor of your home, and read the instructions on how to use it and where to position it. Smoke alarms should be placed near bedrooms, either on the ceiling or six to twelve inches below the ceiling on the wall. Local codes may require additional alarms. Check with your fire department or building code official. Locate smoke alarms away from air vents. Test your alarms regularly to ensure that they still work. If you have a battery powered alarm, change the...

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Carbon Monoxide – CMHC

Carbon Monoxide The presence of carbon monoxide (CO) in our homes is dangerous. So, how can you protect your family from carbon monoxide? How do you choose the right CO detector for your home? The first step is to make sure that carbon monoxide never enters your home. The second step is to install at least one CO detector in your home. This About Your House answers often-asked questions about carbon monoxide to help you make the right decision to make your home safe. What Is Carbon Monoxide? Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colourless and odourless gas. Because you can’t see, taste or smell it, it can affect you or your family before you even know it’s there. Even at low levels of exposure, carbon monoxide can cause serious health problems. CO is harmful because it will rapidly accumulate in the blood, depleting the ability of blood to carry oxygen.1 Where Does Carbon Monoxide Come From? Carbon monoxide is a common byproduct of the combustion (burning) of fossil fuels. Most fuel-burning equipment (natural gas, propane and oil), if properly installed and maintained, produces little CO. The byproducts of combustion are usually safely vented to the outside. However, if anything disrupts the venting process (such as a bird’s nest in the chimney) or results in a shortage of oxygen to the burner, CO production can quickly rise to dangerous levels. The burning of wood, kerosene, coal and charcoal produces CO. Gasoline engines produce CO. CO production is at a maximum during the startup of a cold engine. Starting, then idling, your car or gas mower in the garage can be dangerous. The fumes that contain CO can enter a home through connecting walls or doorways and can quickly rise to dangerous levels. How Can I Eliminate Sources of Carbon Monoxide in My Home? The most important step you can take to eliminate the possibility of CO poisoning is to ensure that CO never has an opportunity to enter your home. This is your first line of defence. Review this list to minimize the risk of CO in your home. Have a qualified technician inspect and clean fuel-burning appliances yearly, before the cold weather sets in, to ensure they are in good working order. Have a qualified technician inspect chimneys and vents yearly for cracks, blockages (e.g., bird’s nests, twigs, old mortar), corrosion or holes. Check fireplaces for closed or blocked flues. Check with a qualified technician before enclosing heating and hot water equipment in a smaller room, to ensure there is adequate air for proper combustion. If you have a powerful kitchen exhaust fan or downdraft cooktop, have a qualified technician check that its operation does not pull fumes back...

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Avoid Basement Flooding Windsor Real Estate

Avoiding Basement Flooding Basement flooding is unfortunately a common occurrence in many parts of Canada. But the good news is that many types of basement flooding may be avoided. This publication explains some of the practical steps you can take to avoid basement flooding. How Serious Is Basement Flooding? Basement flooding is now being recognized as a potentially serious problem. There are many negative consequences associated with basement flooding, above and beyond the inconvenient mess and disruption of household routine. Research cites the following impacts: Chronically wet houses are linked to an increase in respiratory problems. Frequent occurrences of basement flooding can result in long-term damage to the building and equipment that may not be covered by insurance. Insurance rates may rise to compensate for repeated basement flooding claims, and/or the minimum deductible may be increased significantly. Property value may depreciate because the basement is prone to frequent flooding. Before appropriate measures can be taken, it is important to identify the causes of basement flooding. These range from problems originating in the individual dwelling to problems associated with the municipal sewer systems that serve entire communities. Why Do Basements Flood? Water can enter your basement for a number of reasons. Water in your basement is most likely to occur during periods of heavy rainfall, or when snow is melting rapidly during a spring thaw. In these cases, your basement can be wet because of: a leak or crack in your home’s basement walls; poor lot drainage; failure of the weeping tiles (foundation drains); and overflowing eavestroughs or leaking/plugged downspouts. Basement flooding may also occur because of: a blocked connection between your home and the main sewer in the street; a back-up of wastewater in the sewer system (or a combination of wastewater and rainwater from the sanitary or combined sewer system); and failure of a sump pump (in some areas) used to pump weeping tile water. Basements are also vulnerable to natural river flooding disasters, but these cannot be addressed by individual homeowners. Flooding Basics Municipalities attempt to prevent flooding by maintaining the public sewer system. Homeowners with private sewage systems (septic tank and field bed) can appreciate the need for regular maintenance, but unforeseen or accidental problems can occur in any type of system. Here is some municipal infrastructure terminology you should know: Sanitary Sewer A sanitary sewer is a pipe buried beneath the street that is designed to transport wastewater from your home. This consists of water from sanitary fixtures (toilets, sinks, etc.) and floor drains inside your house, and in some areas includes groundwater from weeping tiles around the foundation of your home. Storm Sewer A storm sewer is a pipe buried beneath the street that...

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What to do about a wet attic Windsor Real Estate

Attic Venting, Attic Moisture and Ice Dams It is rare for Canadians to visit their attics. For many years building codes have required high levels of attic insulation, making attics less-than-hospitable places. People usually go into their attics for one of two reasons: animal intruders, such as bats or squirrels, or water leaking through the top floor ceiling. This guide deals with water entry, such as roof leaks, ice dams, and attic condensation. Consult your local pest control expert to rid the attic of creatures. What to Do If Water Comes Through Your Ceiling Find out where the leak is in your ceiling by measuring its location from the nearest outside walls. Then, go into the attic through the attic hatch. It is often hidden in the ceiling of a closet or in the wall of an attached garage. If it is in a closet, move the clothes out of the closet so loose insulation won’t stick to them. Take a good flashlight and a tape measure. When walking in the attic in older houses, step only on the wooden joists that cover the floor. The joists are usually spaced every 16 inches. They are often hidden under a pile of insulation. If you step off the joists, you will probably put your foot through the plaster or drywall ceiling below. Many houses, especially in warmer climates, have some type of floorboard over the joists. This makes walking easier but can make air sealing and insulating more complicated. Most houses built since the 1970s do not have attic rafters and joists, but trusses – usually at 24 inch centres – with the ceiling below attached to the lower chords. Walking in trussed attics is trickier than walking in older attics. If you find vermiculite insulation in your attic, do not disturb it. Loose-fill vermiculite insulation may contain small amounts of asbestos, and you should consult a professional if it is going to be disturbed. CMHC’s information piece Asbestos provides additional guidance. One further caution: if you find a significant amount of animal droppings from bats or birds, do not disturb them. They can grow molds that can cause several illnesses. To clean up droppings, you need good respiratory protection (masks) and clothing that can be bleached or discarded. Find the water leak. Use the tape measure to roughly locate where the water is dripping through the ceiling below. Lift the insulation in this area to find the pooling water. Sometimes the water runs along the attic floor for quite a distance before coming through the ceiling. Trace the water to its source. Look for leaks in the roof, especially around chimneys, plumbing vents, and attic vents – anything that...

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