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What is a GFCI Outlet and Do I Need to Install Them?

GFCI outlet

GFCI  outlets and breakers save lives by limiting the duration of electrical shocks. How is it different from a circuit breaker? Circuit breakers  and GFCI outlets both interrupt the circuit current but a GFCI is more sensitive and smarter as a circuit breaker will work only when the current is over its capacity  (due to an overload or short circuit).  Some key dates:

1971: First introduced and required to be used within 15 feet of a swimming pool and on portable pool equipment.

1973: Outdoor receptacles must be GFCI protected.

1975: Bathrooms & 120-volt pool lights required to have GFCI protection.

1978: Garages and spa tubs required to have GFCI protection.

1984: Distance from swimming pools extended to 20 feet.

1987: Required on kitchen countertops within 6 feet of the sink.

1996: Required on ALL kitchen countertops.

Q. Does every home need to be brought up to current code?
The electrical code is not applied retroactively, however, if you change the receptacles than you must bring them up to the current code. For safety it is recommended that you update to GFCI outlets anyway.  Sometimes a GFCI circuit breaker is installed instead.  Consult a licensed electrician.

Often an outlet in a bathroom or outside is GFCI protected but the outlet does not have a button.    There may be one GFCI outlet that protects all the bathrooms.  This could be in one bathroom or on the wall of the garage.  An older homes it may be a GFCI breaker in the electrical panel.  Newer homes often have a GFCI breaker in the panel as well as a GFCI outlet.

Manufacturers recommend that you test your outlets  once a month. Simply push the button marked “test” to open the circuit. If the reset button pops out with a click, then the circuit works. Simply push the reset button and you’re back to functional. If it does not reset, call a licensed electrician to have it replaced.

More information about GFCI outlets and how they work.

How Much Does a Home Inspection Cost?

The cost of a home inspection should not be your primary concern.  It should be how good a job will the inspector do and what is included in the inspection.  Many times during a real estate transaction, one of the biggest things on our mind is MONEY. But rightfully so. When you are buying a home you are searching for mortgage rates, looking at contractor fees, pricing out new counter tops, and just anything else that has dollar signs.

That is why often times the first thing a potential client asks us is how much we charge for a home inspection. When it comes down to it though, it is not a straight forward question to answer.

There are a lot of factors that go into pricing a home inspection. Size, age, and location of the home to just name a few. It can be related to asking someone how much a vehicle costs. Well, is it a used car? What kind of condition is it in? Is it a tractor-trailer or a a two door sedan? Remember, not all home inspections are the same. A cheap home inspection could end up costing you many times more if major problems are missed.  To see what we include with a home inspection go to our home page.

So that may still leave you with the same question. To help you understand how much a home inspection costs, watch the brief video below:

 

Lead in The Home – Keep Yourself Safe

What can you do if you find lead in your home? Here in this part of Florida, we don’t always think about this issue. But if your home was built before 1978, then you could have an issue. Millions of homes have lead based paint, and the older the home the more likely it is to have it.  If the paint is in good condition,  lead paint is usually not a problem.

There are different steps that can be taken in order to lower the effects of lead, ranging from something easy that everyone can do, to more major steps, that might require a professional.

What are some of the things we can all do?

It will seem obvious but cleaning regularly will help to reduce a child’s exposure to lead. If you see paint chips, get rid of them immediately. Wipe down all surfaces like window frames and sills, and clean floors with warm water, all purpose cleaner or even a cleaner that is meant for lead paint.

Whatever items you use for cleaning, such as mops and sponges, take care to clean them thoroughly after use.

Never wear your shoes in the house, you can prevent a lot of issues by doing this simple task.

A healthy diet rich in calcium and iron is good for helping your child to absorb less lead. Also, a very important step is to make sure your child has washed their hands before eating and especially before bed time.

Interim steps can also be taken to help reduce exposure to lead. For example, if you have found lead in the soil, plant some grass to cover it over. You could also do some repairs to any damaged, painted surfaces. Steps like these are not a permanent solution though, you will eventually need to do something about it.

When you should get a professional:

The time may come to permanently remove the lead problem, and its best to consult a professional lead removal specialist. Check first though to make sure they are a certified lead abatement specialist. They have special training in safe lead removal and clean up. If you try to do it yourself, you may encounter more problems and hazards than you bargained for. Its always good to know that there are things that can be done about lead in a home, but always put safety first.

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