Missing AC Unit

During the Great Recession of 2008, the home inspector rounded the back of a vacant home spotting the remains of where an air conditioner unit once sat.

The air conditioning unit had been stolen, as parts of the AC unit were made of aluminum and copper.

Copper theft reached all-time highs in 2007-2008 when the price of recyclable copper reached $3 to $4 a pound.

The thefts were happening all over the country, especially where thieves were targeting foreclosed houses.

In 2008, Congress passed The Copper Theft Prevention Act aimed at cutting down on copper theft.

It required certain metal recyclers to keep records of their transactions in order to deter individuals and enterprises engaged in theft and interstate fencing of stolen copper, and for other purposes.

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Aluminum Wire

During a recent home inspection in Moraga, the home inspector discovered aluminum wiring in an older garage electrical subpanel.

Aluminum electrical wiring was installed in houses from the late 1960s to the mid-1970s during a period of high copper prices.

Since that time, aluminum wiring has been associated with a number of house fires.

The main problem with aluminum wiring is a phenomenon known as ‘cold creep’.

When aluminum wiring warms up, it expands and when it cools down, it contracts.

Unlike copper, when aluminum goes through a number of warm/cool cycles it loses a bit of tightness at the wall outlet termination…creating an over-heated condition… and in some cases, an electrical fire.
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Fan That Tried

During a Pleasanton home inspection, a creative solution for cooling the attic space was spotted.

Yes, a table top fan was tied to the roof directly under a roof vent.

On a hot summer day, attic temperatures can easily hit 135 – 150F with a dark color asphalt shingle roof.

This was a sizeable attic space and it would take a lot of air volume moving through the attic for any significant cooling to take place.

A single 12″ oscillating fan set to the stationary position has a negligible effect on attic cooling… it’s a waste of electricity and since it was plugged in an extension cord, a potential fire concern.

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Air Gap Spitting Water

Home inspectors who check the dishwasher drain cycle – routinely finds that 15% of dishwasher drain hoses are blocked with food sludge or are kinked – causing water to spray out of the air gap device.

What’s an air gap device? It’s a small cylindrical fixture with slots, that’s installed between the dishwasher and the kitchen sink drain pipe or garbage disposal.

It sits on the sink deck or the kitchen countertop and is designed to prevent dishwasher drain water from flowing backwards into the dishwasher. A good thing since food particle bacteria is present in the drain hose.

If water flows out an air gap device, it’s a red flag.

Usually, there’s food blockage at the garage disposer connection, the drain line is kinked, or the knockout plug in the garbage disposal wasn’t removed during installation.

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