Hint: this box will get you a small discount on your electric bill each month.

Called “Energy Management Equipment” by the local utility, the switching mechanism in this box enables the electric company (in this home, Florida Power) to remotely shut off the electricity serving a water heater, pool pump, and/or air conditioner during a period of peak usage to avoid a power brown-out. The program is voluntary and participants that allow the boxes to be installed typically get a small reduction in their electricity rate in exchange for the possible inconvenience of having one or more major appliances shut off for a brief period.

Hint: once kept the house warm on cold winter nights

An abandoned fuel oil tank in the ground. The bottom pipe with the mushroom cap is a vent, and the taller one is the filler pipe, which originally had a metal flap cover plate that is now gone. For more info about abandoned fuel oil tanks, go to our blog post “There’s an old fuel oil tank underground in the yard. Is it a problem?”../../2012/1/4_Theres_an_old_fuel_oil_tank_underground_in_the_yard._Is_it_a_problem.html../../2012/1/4_Theres_an_old_fuel_oil_tank_underground_in_the_yard._Is_it_a_problem.htmlshapeimage_4_link_0shapeimage_4_link_1

Hint: keeps the water heater from blowing its top

A “Temperature and Pressure Release Valve,” also called a T&P valve or a TPR valve, opens automatically to release the pressure inside a water heater tank if the thermostat fails to shut off the heating element at a safe temperature, to keep the tank from exploding violently. To learn more about TPR valves, go to our blog post “What’s the valve with the flip-top handle on the water heater for?”../../2012/5/5_Whats_the_valve_with_the_flip-up_handle_on_the_water_heater_for.html../../2012/5/5_Whats_the_valve_with_the_flip-up_handle_on_the_water_heater_for.htmlshapeimage_5_link_0shapeimage_5_link_1

Hint: bugs beware!

This is an injection port at the exterior wall of a home for the “TAEXX” built-in pest control system, which uses small tubes—run thru the exterior walls of a home while it is still under construction—to deliver pesticide dosages in the walls at regular intervals as a barrier to bug entry into the home.

Hint: big box on the wall with pipes connected to a/c condenser

Hint: push-buttons in the middle of an electric receptacle

Hint: white “crusties” on top of the water heater

The two big boxes on either side of the electrical disconnect boxes for the a/c condensers in the foreground are heat recovery systems. They function by extracting heat from the refrigerant line as it leaves the air conditioner or heat pump condenser and transferring the heat to the water in a hot water heater, thereby creating “free” hot water during the summer cooling months. To learn more about heat recovery systems, we suggest going to the Q&A page at Trevor-Martin Corporation’s website:
Receptacles with the two push-buttons in the center are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter, or GFCI-receptacles. They provide shock protection in the wet areas of a home, like the kitchen, bathroom, garage, and exterior. The “TEST” button is used to verify that the shock protection circuit is functional, and the top “RESET” pops out when the circuit is tripped and can be pushed in to reset the circuit. To find out more about GFCI-receptacles, go to our blog post “Why does that wall plug have push-buttons in the middle?”http://mcgarryandmadsen.com/inspection/Blog/Entries/2011/8/4_Why_does_that_wall_plug_have_push-buttons_in_the_middle.htmlhttp://mcgarryandmadsen.com/inspection/Blog/Entries/2011/8/4_Why_does_that_wall_plug_have_push-buttons_in_the_middle.htmlshapeimage_9_link_0shapeimage_9_link_1
The white “crusties” found on top of some older water heaters are caused by an electrolytic reaction called galvanic corrosion. To find out more about galvanic corrosion, go to our blog post “What’s that powdery crust on the pipe connections at the water heater?”http://mcgarryandmadsen.com/inspection/Blog/Entries/2012/8/3_Whats_that_powdery_crust_on_the_pipe_connections_at_the_water_heater.htmlhttp://mcgarryandmadsen.com/inspection/Blog/Entries/2012/8/3_Whats_that_powdery_crust_on_the_pipe_connections_at_the_water_heater.htmlshapeimage_10_link_0shapeimage_10_link_1

Hint: a water conservation device

This remote rain sensor is connected to a landscape sprinkler system control panel, and will override the regular watering schedule when it senses a recent rain.

Hint: keeps your fish pond water from ending up in your iced tea

Garden hoses are the #1 cause of cross-connection backflows which contaminates drinking water. The vacuum breaker shown in the red circle  is now required to be screwed onto the end of hose faucets, to protect the home’s water supply from backflow contamination in the event of loss of water pressure. To learn more about how they work, go to our blog post “What is a ‘cross connection’ in a home’s plumbing system?”../../2012/9/2_What_is_a_%22cross_connection%22_in_a_homes_plumbing_system.html../../2012/9/2_What_is_a_%22cross_connection%22_in_a_homes_plumbing_system.htmlshapeimage_13_link_0shapeimage_13_link_1

Hint: connected to laundry room

Underground dryer vents are typically PVC, and have a louvers at end of pipe.

Hint: keeps the sinks draining properly

The red plastic bubble on top of the box is a malfunction  alarm (flashing light) for a grinder pump system, which is used to transfer all the wastewater in a home—from toilets, showers, dishwashers, sinks, and any other water-using fixtures—to a septic tank or sewer system where gravity drainage is not adequate. The waste water empties into the grinder pump tank (shown partially above ground at right). When the water reaches a certain level, the pump turns on automatically to pump the wastewater into the sewer system.
This sensor device is secured to the floor of a garage, slightly inside of where the door closes to the floor, and is connected to an alarm system. A magnet on the door aligns with the sensor and if the garage door is opened while the alarm is activated, the movement of the magnet away from the sensor trips the alarm. The sensor is sturdy enough to drive a car over it.

Hint: don’t break in through the garage.

Hint: not a miniature video camera

This bullet-shaped spray head secured to the bottom of a home’s soffit is part of an automatic insecticide spraying system. It was a not-so-popular feature at installed in the homes of a local development that went defunct a few years ago. A timer (similar to the type for a landscape sprinkler system) activates a pump in early morning hours that sprays a mist of insecticide from a string of these heads in the soffit down around the exterior walls of the home, keeping the perimeter of the home insect-free.

More Blog Posts on Home Inspection:

  1. What do you check in a mobile home inspection?

  2. Should a home inspection scare you?

  3. Are there any minimum standards that a home inspection must meet in Florida?

  4. What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?

  5. Are you licensed and insured?

  6. We looked at the house carefully, and it seems alright. Do we really need a home inspection?

  7. Is a home inspection required?

  8. Should I be there for the inspection?

  9. What tools do you use for a home inspection?

  10. Is it common for an insurance company to require an inspection?

  11. The seller has to fix everything you find wrong with the house, right?

  12. Can I do my own home inspection?

  13. Is it still possible to do an inspection if there’s no electricity or water?

  14. What’s the difference between a roof inspection and a roofing estimate?

  15. Should I hire an engineer to inspect the house?

  16. Do inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

  17. What should I look for when buying a former rental house?

  18. What happens at a home inspection?

  19. How do sellers try to fool the home inspector?

  20. Does the home inspector also check for termites?

  21. What different types of specialized inspections can I get?

  22. What are the questions a home inspector won’t answer?

  23. What is the difference between a building inspector and a home inspector?

  24. What do I need to know about buying a 1950s house?

  25. What is the difference between a home inspection and a final walkthrough inspection?

  26. Should the seller be at the home inspection?

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While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
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