clogged dryer vent could lead to house fire

Clogged dryer vents are a safety hazard for homeowners’. To reduce the chances of a clogged dryer vent, homeowners’ can empty the lint trap at the clothes dryer with every use. It’s also a good idea to check the vent at the exterior of the home. Simply lift the louver, look into the vent. In the photo above, you can see there is a plastic cage that shouldn’t be there because it stops the excess lint from flying out. Dryer vent safety is an important aspect of owning a home, and proper maintenance goes hand in hand.

Make sure the duct doesn’t get crushed when you push the dryer back into position! To ensure there is proper airflow from the dryer to the exterior, don’t crush the vent pipe! A lot of people use the flimsy, flexible, foil or plastic type vent ducting for the dryer and these are subject to crushes and kinks.  Especially at turns and directly behind the dryer, since there isn’t much room work there normally! Instead of just bending it around, use a rigid 90 degree elbow that won’t restrict the flow of air.

Vertical runs of dryer ducting can cause problems, and if you have a vertical run you may want to install a booster fan for the vent duct to make sure that the hot, moist air gets to where it needs to go…. and that’s to the EXTERIOR!

It’s important to make sure the connections are tight and sealed so that same air doesn’t escape somewhere else where it isn’t supposed to be…. and that’s in a wall/ceiling/crawlspace!!!

National Requirements

The recommendations outlined below reflect International Residential Code (IRC) SECTION M1502 CLOTHES DRYER EXHAUST guidelines:

M1502.5 Duct construction.
Exhaust ducts shall be constructed of minimum 0.016-inch-thick (0.4 mm) rigid metal ducts, having smooth interior surfaces, with joints running in the direction of air flow. Exhaust ducts shall not be connected with sheet-metal screws or fastening means which extend into the duct.


This means that the flexible, ribbed vents used in the past should no longer be used. They should be noted as a potential fire hazard if observed during an inspection.
M1502.6 Duct length.
The maximum developed length of a clothes dryer exhaust duct shall not exceed 35 feet from the dryer location to the wall or roof termination. The maximum length of the duct shall be reduced 2.5 feet for each 45-degree (0.8 rad) bend, and 5 feet for each 90-degree (1.6 rad) bend. That maximum length of the exhaust duct does not include the transition duct.

M1502.2 Duct termination.

this rigid dryer vent pipe transitions to a flexible plastic type duct work that terminates in a crawlspace. This is definitely not terminated at the exterior. It also has a conncetion that is in a concealed/ not readily accessible location.

flexible plastic vent that terminates in a crawlspace

Exhaust ducts shall terminate on the outside of the building or shall be in accordance  with the dryer manufacturer’s installation instructions. The ducts shall terminate not  less than 3 feet in any direction from openings into buildings.

Exhaust duct terminations shall be equipped with a backdraft damper.  Screens shall not be installed at the duct termination.



Proper Size

The vent duct must be properly sized.

M1502.3 Duct size.
The diameter of the exhaust duct shall be as required by the clothes dryer’s listing and the manufacturer’s installation instructions.
Look for the exhaust duct size on the data plate.
M1502.4 Transition ducts.
Transition ducts shall not be concealed within construction. Flexible transition ducts used to connect the dryer to the exhaust duct system shall be limited to single lengths not to exceed 8 feet, and shall be listed and labeled in accordance with UL 2158A.
Required support for lengthy ducts is covered by the following section:

M1502.4.2 Duct installation.
Exhaust ducts shall be supported at intervals not to exceed 12 feet and shall be secured in place. The insert end of the duct shall extend into the adjoining duct or fitting in the direction of airflow. Duct joints shall be sealed in accordance with Section M1601.4.1 and shall be mechanically fastened. Ducts shall not be joined with screws or similar fasteners that protrude more than 1/8-inch into the inside of the duct.

Typically, the inspector may not know each specific manufacturer’s recommendations or local codes and may not be able to confirm the dryer vent’s compliance to them, but will be able to point out issues that may need to be corrected.

Clothes dryer fire safety outreach materials › prevention › outreach › clothes_dryers

If you’re looking for a home inspection in Virginia Beach, call 747.797.4240. Schedule with the best home inspector and A Premier Home Inspection!

testing electrical outlets

Upgrading ungrounded outlets is important because between 1920 and 1960, tens of thousands of houses built in the United States. Almost all of them had two-prong outlets. Many of them still do. If you live in a house with two-prong outlets, you might want to consider an upgrade. You are at risk for more than inconvenience when you try and plug in your 21st century TV into one of these outlets.

Risks With Two-Prong Outlets

testing electrical outlets

electrical outlets testing

Two main risks associated with two-prong outlets: electrocution and power surges. Both of these issues have to do with the fact that the wiring in two-prong outlets isn’t grounded. In outlets built

since 1962, U.S. electrical code has required all outlets to have a ground. This ground wire protects electronics and people from electrical surges and faults by providing a pathway for extra energy to escape the house’s circuitry. When an error or surge occurs with grounding, the energy travels through the ground wire to the electrical panel. There, it will trip the circuit breaker or blow a fuse, thereby shutting down the circuit before damage (hopefully) occurs. The energy then continues through the ground wire into the earth below the structure, where it dissipates harmlessly.

Without grounding, it’s also impossible to protect your electronics and appliances with surge protectors. Surge protectors work if they connect to a ground wire. Without this, they offer no better protection for electronic devices than multi-prong outlets.

Current Building Standards

Upgrading your home’s electrical system can cost between 5 and 15 percent of your home’s value — a cost that many people cannot afford. With this in mind, regulators determined that homeowners with two-prong outlets need not upgrade them. However, that doesn’t mean they’re the safest option.

For more than 50 years, code has required all new construction have grounded, three-prong outlets. U.S. electrical code now requires outlets not only to be grounded but that outlets in areas with water present have a GFCI. A GFCI, short for ground-fault circuit interrupter, protects people from electrical shock by cutting off the circuit if a short circuit occurs. (A short circuit is when there is a low resistance connection between two conductors that are supplying electrical power to a circuit. The short-circuit would cause excessive flow of current in the power source. The electricity will flow through a ‘short’ route and cause a short circuit).  If someone is being shocked/electrocuted because of that short circuit, a GFCI can save their life.

This type of protection is not available with a two-prong outlet.

Two-Prong Outlets Suggest Other Problems

Two prong outlets raise flags about other electrical issues that may be present. Homes built before 1965 had 30- or 60-amp fuse panels. 30 and 60-amp fuse panels may be inadequate for modern household electrical needs.

Fuse boxes are problematic because they cannot handle the most current requirements of electrical systems. Newly constructed homes today have 200-amp service panels (the service panels that replaced fuse boxes).

When there is too much energy running through a wire, the wire heats up, putting the house at risk for fire. Too much energy (electricity) will also blow fuses. You will have to continually replace if your fuse box’s amperage rating doesn’t meet your needs.

Another problem to be on guard for when two-prong outlets are present is the lack of grounding in outlets that have three prongs. A house retrofitted with three-prong outlets may still have some two-prong outlets as well, and there’s a good chance they’re not grounded.  It could also mean that only part of your house’s electrical system is grounded.

Use an outlet tester to find out whether they are grounded or not.  Regulations require a label stating there is  “No Equipment Ground” if the three-prong outlets are not grounded.

Four Ways to Upgrade Ungrounded Electrical Outlets

Upgrading your ungrounded electrical outlets, you cannot merely add a three-prong outlet. While this will solve the convenience issue, it will not solve the safety issue.

If you genuinely want to address your two-prong outlets and make them safer, you have four options.

Option 1: Rewire Your Outlets

Your first and best option when looking at upgrading ungrounded outlets is to hire an electrician to rewire your house’s outlets and its electrical panel. If the expense is a concern, consider having your electrician rewire select outlets into which you plug more sensitive electronic devices, such as a computer or game console.

Note that this is not a project you can do yourself. Only a certified electrician has the expertise necessary to run a ground wire from the outlet to the service panel and then correctly ground it.

Option 2: Ground Three Prong Outlets with the Metal Housing Box

Many two-prong outlets are installed in metal boxes, metal boxes were often grounded even if the circuitry was not.   While your house has two-prong outlets with metal boxes, you can ground the outlets without overhauling the wiring.

To find out whether the metal housing is grounded, purchase a circuit tester. Insert one of the tester’s prongs into the hot slot (the shorter slot in the outlet). Put the other prong onto a screw holding the cover plate. The metal box is ungrounded if the tester lights up.

With a grounded box, you can install a three-prong outlet, and ground it by attaching it to the armored cable in the back of the box.

Option 3: Install a GFCI at the Outlet

The third option to upgrading your ungrounded outlets is to replace it with a GFCI. While a GFCI will not protect your electronics from power surges, it will protect you from electrocution and short circuits. If you replace an ungrounded, two-prong outlet with a GFCI, you must label it with “No Equipment Ground.”

Option 4: Install a GFCI at the Circuit Breaker

It’s also possible to replace your two-prong receptacles with three-prong ones and add a GFCI circuit breaker at the service panel. Doing this will likewise protect you from electrocution. If you do this, you will have to label outlets with “GFCI Protected, No Equipment Ground.”

Whatever you decide to do, we recommend having a certified electrician complete your electrical work. Safety is always a concern when working with electricity, and an expert will best take care of your home.


 Four ways to Upgrade Two Prong Outlets – Indianapolis ….

Everything You Need to Know About Electrical Short ….

Rotted handrail, bad handrail, no handrail.

Rotted handrail, bad handrail, no handrail.

Handrail Safety

What do the 3 photos above have in common?

Stairs? Handrails? Bad handrails? No Handrails?

A little of each… there’s no handrail on this long run of stairs to a basement.

There are the front steps with the ladder-type of handrail with a 2×4 on top. And then there’s another short run with an old, worn 2×4 up top.

Safety is the main concern with all of them. There’s no doubt that all of these stairs need handrails and they have to be graspable handrails! The 2×4 doesn’t qualify as a “graspable” handrail.

  • Railing grip size and shape: (must be able to be grasped)
  • Round rails: between 1.25″ and 2″ in diameter
  • Metal ogee shaped: <= 2.25″ across widest dimension
  • Wood oblate shaped: <= 2.25″ across widest dimension
  • Rectangular shaped: perimeter must be between 4″ and 6.25″ and have a recessed finger area

2x handrail profiles - CA CBC - DF 2x handrail profiles - CA CBC - DF Handrail profile non circular

Please don’t mess around it comes to handrail safety,  because someone could get hurt! You should want to provide guests who travel throughout your home a safe means to do so, especially when it comes to elderly or small children. It’s important that they have something to grab onto when going up and down those stairs, whether that’s up to the front door or out the back deck for a barbeque!

Avoid Injuries

Take the proper precautions because if someone gets injured on your pr0perty that could be a liability. We all know how sue-happy society has gotten these days, so take a few extra minutes to survey your property and if a safety device, such as a handrail, is missing or inadequate, either put something in place yourself or hire someone to do it for you! If you’re unsure about something, a google search could help or why not call a professional and ask the question?  To reach a professional home inspector, call 757-797-4240 or send me a message: or on Facebook.

electrical safety tips for home

Facts and Statistics

Thank you for taking the time to read about electrical safety tips for homes!  According to the latest statistics from ESFI(Electrical Safety Foundation International) , there are about 51,000 home electrical fires each year. They cause nearly 500 deaths, over 1400 injuries and 1.3 billion in property damages.  Electrical distribution systems are the 3rd leading cause of home fires, whereas arc faults are responsible for 28,000 fires killing and injuring hundreds of people, causing over $700 million in property damages. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission(CPSC) reports that electrical receptacles cause 5,400 fires every year, leading to 40 deaths and over 100 injuries. 60% of home fire deaths are the result of non working smoke detectors!!

Safety Tips

  1. Install smoke detectors on every level of your home, inside sleeping areas, and outside of sleeping areas
  2. Test smoke detectors, AFCI and GFCI monthly to ensure they are working properly
  3. Establish an emergency evacuation plan to get your family out of the home in an emergency
  4. use light bulbs that match the recommendation of the fixture
  5. install tamper resistant outlets, especially if you have young children, to prevent shocks and burns
  6. watch for signs of electrical problems, such as dim and/or flickering lights, unusual sizzling or buzzing noises from electrical system/components and circuit breakers that trip frequently
  7. use extension cords for temporary items and never with air conditioners or space heaters
  8. avoid overloading outlets, consider having more outlets installed if you find overloading common
  9. know where your electrical panel is and how to operate the breakers. In the event of electrical fire, secure the power before using  your ABC extinguisher

More Safety Tips

Work Safely

Turn the power (at the circuit breaker) off if you plan to work on anything that has electricity going to it. This is the best way to make sure there is no power going to that equipment.

Check your outlets

Warm outlets are not a good sign. If an outlet feels warm, or frequently trips the breaker, you should call an electrician to evaluate the situation. Warm outlets could be a sign of loose connection, defective equipment and can lead to fire, shocks or burns.

Check for GFCI in rooms with water service, such as the kitchen, basement and bathroom. The garage and exterior should also have GFCI’s present, because they shut off the power to that outlet or circuit when it detects a shock hazard.  If your home is older, it may not have these and I recommend getting them installed by a qualified electrician.

Only one large appliance per outlet, so the circuit doesn’t become overloaded. If you are going to be absent for a length of time, unplug the appliance to save energy and make sure there is not a chance of arcing/sparking. Keep the cords away from sinks and bathtubs. Keep pets and children away from the cords to prevent injury.


Make sure your light bulbs are tight in their sockets, loose bulbs can cause sparks. Unplug a light or turn off the power to that fixture prior to changing the bulbs.

Check the cords for damage, make sure they are not frayed or kinked, and if they are get rid of them. Don’t nail or staple the cord in place, tape is the best solution for this. Plug ends should not be loose, either on the cord or in the outlet. If either is the case, you should replace it.

Outdoors, make sure you prune trees back from power lines, they should not touch. Keep ladders away from power lines when working around the exterior of the home and assume all(especially fallen) power lines are live and dangerous. CALL the power company and block off the area to keep people away!

Checking and paying attention to these items of your home may help keep your family and your home safer from electrical hazards.