Tech Articles

Roof Shape Basics

Roof Shape Basics A roof is one of the critical defining elements of any residential dwelling or building. The shape of a roof is important because it determines how well the structure can withstand certain environmental elements like wind and rain runoff. As industry professionals, it is important to understand the basics of a building’s roof structure. Typical Roof Shapes Most roofs can be categorized into three basic shapes: Gable, Hip, and Flat (or Low Slope). Gable A gable roof is identified by a straight slope falling from the top ridge to the eave where the roof structure meets the upper wall sections. Visually, this creates a triangle shape above the walls on the side, front, or rear of a dwelling. Below are some basic

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Insulation R-Value Defined

Insulation R-Value Defined Energy efficiency has become an increasing concern in the Real Estate and Property Insurance Industries. The performance of the insulation products installed in a building or dwelling are important factors to be considered when building, purchasing, or renovating a home or commercial property. As Industry Professionals, it is helpful to be familiar with methods used when determining the R-Value of insulation materials.   R-Value Defined R–Value is defined as “The measurement used when quantifying the level of a specific material’s thermal resistance”. How Does R-Value Relate to Insulation? The function of insulation is to provide resistance to the flow of heat, and R-Value is the measure a material’s resistance to this heat flow. A high R-value equates to higher resistance to heat

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Water Heater Basics

Most residential dwellings have a tank-type water heater which consists of a cylindrical free-standing tank with plumbing supply and outlet lines at the top of the unit. The most common heat sources for tank water heaters are electricity or gas (either propane or natural gas). An electric water heater will have a large electrical conduit attached from the dwelling’s main electrical power source (main circuit breaker panel). A fuel-type or “gas fired” unit will have a large vent duct at the top and a fuel source line close to the bottom of the unit. A tank water heater not only heats water but stores it until it is needed. This is why all tank water heaters are fitted with insulation material that helps maintain the

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Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs)

Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) A ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is a device used in residential and commercial buildings that is designed to disconnect a circuit when unbalanced current is detected between an energized wire and a neutral return wire. Such an imbalance is sometimes caused by current “leaking” through a person who is simultaneously in contact with a grounded conductor and an energized part of a circuit. This condition has the potential to create a lethal shock. Standard circuit breakers are designed to protect against voltage and current overloads as well as short circuits, but will not trip during a ground fault condition. QUICK FACT It is estimated that about 300 deaths by electrocution occur every year. The use of GFCIs has been adopted

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Basic Electrical Terms

As industry professionals, we regularly see various technical reports that reference certain terms that relate to the electrical systems in dwellings and buildings. While consultation with a licensed, certified electrical specialist is always recommended when any type of electrical problems are discovered, it is important as industry professionals to be familiar with some basic terms that are commonly used when describing residential and commercial electrical systems. Basic Electrical Units of Measurement Voltage (V) Described technically as “A measure of potential energy per unit of charge”.    Huh???… Let’s use the “water in a pipe analogy” to explain: Voltage in any electrical system is just like water pressure in a plumbing system. A lot of water pressure in a pipe means thata lot of water can be

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Garbage Disposal Basics

Garbage Disposal Basics Built-in Waste or “Garbage” disposals are built-in kitchen appliances that are designed to break down food waste products to a size and consistency that allows disposal through the normal sewage drainage system of a dwelling or building. Most of these units are electrically powered, although there are some brands that use water pressure to augment the breakdown process. As Industry Professionals and Homeowners, it is helpful to understand the basics of a built-in garbage disposal unit. GARBAGE DISPOSALS VS “TRASH” DISPOSAL When solid food waste products are discarded into the regular trash bin for curbside pickup, the weight and volume amount of biodegradable waste material places an additional burden on some already overloaded landfills and other waste disposal systems. A built-in garbage

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AFCIs Explained

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) Basics An Arc-fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is a special type of circuit breaker that is wired in conjunction with certain electrical receptacles and outlets in a home or building. The AFCI is designed to sense potentially dangerous electrical arcs that can occur in a building or home. As Industry Professionals, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of the purpose and operation of the AFCI circuit. BASIC OPERATION OF THE AFCI An AFCI monitors the waveform (frequency) of an electrical circuit during normal operation. If any change in the circuit waveform that is characteristic of a dangerous electrical arc in the circuit occurs, the AFCI will de-energize (interrupt) the circuit. An AFCI circuit can detect, differentiate, and respond to very

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