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Category Archives: Tips and Guides

California Smoke Alarm Laws 2018

We cannot stress enough how important it is to have Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors in your home or seasonal cabin in the Lake Almanor area.  Lets make this plain and simple:  Smoke alarms save lives. Smoke alarms that are properly installed and maintained play a vital role in reducing fire deaths and injuries. If there is a fire in your home, smoke spreads fast and you need smoke alarms to give you time to get out.  Another consideration in the Lassen and Plumas National Forests is forest fire.  Catching a house fire early can potentially save a forest from burning.  Be sure to add this to your springtime home safety checklist.   Below, you’ll find the smoke detectors we recommend, plus other fire safety information that can keep your family protected.

Where are smoke alarms required?

  1. One smoke alarm is required on every floor of the home.
  2. One smoke alarm is required inside every sleeping room.
  3. One smoke alarm is required outside of every sleeping room.  
  4. If your home or apartment has an attached garage, a gas appliance, or a fireplace, a combination smoke and carbon monoxide detector, or, separately operating carbon monoxide and smoke detectors must be installed.  

What Is the California Health and Safety Code for Smoke Detectors?

  1. New construction and remodels require new smoke and carbon monoxide detectors to be hardwired to the home’s electric system and have a battery backup, and have an interconnecting alarm.
  2. In older homes, without the ability to hardwired devices, all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors must contain a non-removable battery that can last 10 years.
  3. Whenever permits for improvements or repairs over one thousand dollars ($1000) are issued, the permit issuer cannot sign off on the completion of work until the permittee demonstrates that existing devices meet the above requirements.  

There are two types of Smoke Detectors, not all devices contain both.

  1. Ionization smoke alarms:  sensing alarms may detect invisible fire particles (associated with fast flaming fires) sooner than photoelectric alarms.
  2. Photoelectric alarms:  sensing alarms may detect visible fire particles (associated with slow smoldering fires) sooner than ionization alarms.

Recommended Smoke Alarms

kidde-smoke-carbon-monoxide-detector-p3010CU

Combination Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarm BY Kiddie

The Kidde P3010CU is a 10-year, sealed battery, smoke and carbon monoxide alarm with a voice warning system that features photoelectric and electrochemical sensing technology.  When either sensor notices a potential hazard, it will communicate with the other. Depending on what is detected, the alarm will adjust its smoke sensitivity in order to better discriminate between a real hazard and a false one. This constant communication enhances the alarm’s overall performance and significantly reduces the potential for a nuisance alarm.

KIDDIE-Pi2010

Kidde Dual Sensor AC Hardwired Interconnect Smoke Alarm

The Kidde PI2010 is a 120VAC, wire-in smoke alarm with 9V battery backup. This smoke alarm functions as a stand alone unit or in an interconnected system. The Kidde features Hush®, allowing you to quickly silence nuisance alarms and also includes a tamper resist features that deters tampering and theft. The PI2010 includes a quick connect power harness that allows for quick and easy installation.

kiddie-RF-SM-ACDC-wired-smoke-alarm

Kidde AC Hardwired Wireless Interconnect Smoke Alarm

The Kidde Wireless AC Powered Smoke Alarm makes it easy to expand the coverage of a current interconnected system. Simply replace one interconnected smoke alarm with the Kidde Wireless AC powered alarm. Kidde Wireless Battery Powered Smoke Alarms can be installed in additional rooms that need extra protection. This AC powered alarm bridges a home’s current interconnected system to the newly installed alarms, so that when one alarm is triggered, all alarms will sound.

Experts recommend interconnected alarms, because when one sounds, they all sound, providing an early warning against fire by dramatically increasing your ability to hear an alarm anywhere in your home, regardless of where the fire starts. Newer homes are required by code to have interconnected alarms. Wireless technology now enables any home to have an interconnected system

WF-C3010-CO-detector-wired

Kiddie Carbon Monoxide Alarm

The Kidde C3010 is a 10-year, sealed battery, carbon monoxide alarm that uses electro-chemical sensing technology to protect you and your family from the dangers of carbon monoxide. The C3010 alarm will automatically activate when it is attached to the mounting bracket. At the end of alarm life, the unit will chirp, indicating the alarm is in need of replacement.

Smoke Alarm Statistics

  1. Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%). Source
  2. In 2009-2013, smoke alarms sounded in more than half (53%) of the home fires reported to U.S. fire departments.
  3. Three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms (38%) or no working smoke alarms (21%).
  4. The death rate per 100 reported home fires was more than twice as high in homes that did not have any working smoke alarms compared to the rate in homes with working smoke alarms (1.18 deaths vs. 0.53 deaths per 100 fires).
  5. In fires in which the smoke alarms were present but did not operate, almost half (46%) of the smoke alarms had missing or disconnected batteries.
  6. Dead batteries caused one-quarter (24%) of the smoke alarm failures.

Things you need to know

  1. Closing your door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home.
  2. It is ideal to have a smoke alarm system that is interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
  3. Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
  4. Test your smoke alarms at least once a month.
  5. There are two kinds of alarms. Ionization smoke alarms are quicker to warn about flaming fires. Photoelectric alarms are quicker to warn about smoldering fires. It is best to use of both types of alarms in the home.
  6. When a smoke alarm sounds, get outside and stay outside.
  7. Replace all smoke alarms in your home every 10 years.
  8. Smoke alarms are inexpensive and are worth the lives they can help save.
  9. A  smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery is the same as having no smoke alarm at all.
  10. A smoke alarm only works when it is properly installed and regularly tested. Take care of your smoke alarms according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
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Central Air Conditioning Buying Guide

We know your story:  You’ve spent one too many summer’s sweltering in the heat.  You’re tired of your friends giving you grief about your blast furnace of a house and mocking you by sending YouTube video links of how to make an $8 air conditioner out of a foam ice chest, bailing wire and your grandma’s old box fan.

We know that converting your home to a central air conditioning system isn’t cheap and that getting the most value for your hard earned money is a priority.  In this blog, we will focus on the ins and outs purchasing your first air conditioning system, things to consider when buying, and common mistakes to avoid.  

6 things to consider before you invest in air conditioning

What’s first?  There are a few things you will need to know before you can ask for a price estimate.  Here are 6 questions you should ask yourself before you buy an air conditioning system:

Does your home already have a forced-air furnace and ductwork?

If not, central air conditioning may be out of your budget.  You may consider a whole-house evaporative cooler or a ductless-mini-split system which can typically be installed in retrofit applications for much less than central air conditioning.

Is the existing ductwork in your home large enough to support air conditioning?

More air needs to be moved during air conditioning than heating because of the nature of removing latent heat (moisture) from the air.  Less airflow over a cooling coil will actually pull more latent heat (moisture) out of the air and less sensible heat.  This can cause the cooling equipment to “ice-up” and cause potential damage to your home or the equipment itself.  Some older homes with original ductwork and only a gas or electric furnace will not have large enough ductwork to handle the addition of air conditioning.  If you still want central air conditioning, you will need to replace at least some if not all your ductwork.  Again, this can be a costly expense and you may consider another more cost-sensitive approach to cooling.  

Another ductwork consideration for older homes: Is the existing ductwork tin/metal?

Tin and metal ductwork may rust-out over the years with air conditioning. Cold air holds less moisture than warm air resulting in condensation, this condensation will collect at the bottom of the metal ducting and result in rust.

Does your home have enough electrical service and space for an additional 240vac circuit?

If not, you may need an electrical panel upgrade prior to the installation of central air conditioning.

Is there available space for your outdoor unit and does your home have an attic or crawl space underfloor?

The installation of refrigerant tubing to a new evaporative coil at your air handler will also positively impact the cost of the installation.

Most importantly, considering the length of time you plan on living in your home and making sure you have available funding for your project

are the two most important considerations.  We often recommend to our clients that they purchase the most efficient system they can afford that will experience a return on investment while they own the home.  It really doesn’t make too much sense to purchase the most efficient system on the market if you never experience the cost-benefit of its long-term installation.  In other words, don’t buy the most expensive system if you plan on selling or moving locations in the near future.

Hiring professional HVAC technicians

Air-conditioning-buying-guide-slusher-chester-ca

Hiring the right person or company to install your central air conditioning system is crucial!  Only call and schedule an estimate visit with a licensed HVAC C-20 contractor in California.  This is for your protection.  There are lots of people who think they can do the job, but you don’t want to be on the purchasing end of a system that could be a potential health and safety hazard.  

Also, most manufacturers will only warranty equipment that is installed by a qualified air conditioning technician.  A large portion of the final product cost is the manufacturer’s warranty.  Forfeiting this would be a huge mistake!  

Lastley, ensure the contractor knows what you want, not what he or she thinks you want.  Listen to the contractor’s comments and recommendations, of course. Then, make your choices.  What energy efficiency equipment are they recommending?  What are the savings and payback if you go with the higher efficiency equipment?  Are there rebates available from your local utility provider?  What brand equipment does the contractor use and what’s included in the warranty?  Remember, you are the customer, get what you want.   Be sure to review the proposal and make certain it covers all aspects of the job including required building permits from the county, city, or state.  You’ll be glad you took the time to do all this research when you have a nice, comfortable, cool home on one of those hot August nights.

We proudly install these brands of air conditioners.

Air-Conditioning units from York, Rheem, Payne, Daikin and Mitsubishi:

  • Energy Star Rated
  • Industry Leading Warranty and Quality

California energy rebate programs

Air conditioners, furnaces and water heaters have improved considerably in the past few decades. When it’s time to replace yours, look for a high-efficiency model to save energy and money over the long run.  The state of California and utility companies offer rebates and financial assistance.  Make sure you check with your local Utility to find out details.

State Of California Programs:  California offers many energy efficiency programs.  Take a look at there website to see details.

Home Upgrade:  Home Upgrade is a statewide program that offers up to $6,500 in rebates when you make energy-saving home improvements. It takes a comprehensive approach and looks at all the systems in your home to determine what upgrades will most effectively reduce energy usage while providing you with a comfortable living environment.

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Understanding Your Home’s Electrical Wiring System

In 1879, Thomas Edison exhibited his new invention, electric lighting, in a neighborhood in Menlo Park, New Jersey.  Originally, this new invention was only available to the wealthiest of families. Yet, by the turn of the century, electricity inside of residences were commonplace.  

Now, 137 years later, many changes have occurred regarding electrical wiring within your home, thanks mostly, to the National Electrical Code requirements and modern technology. Contributions to the NEC code are made and revised every three years in an attempt to prevent loss of life or property due to improper installation of electrical systems. Therefore, electrical systems and wiring particularly, has evolved greatly over the years. Although much of the practices and materials that were used in the past have been phased out, much of the early wiring that was installed are still present in homes across lake Almanor and Susanville.

Do I need to rewire my home?

Countless times I have been asked by homeowners for an estimate to rewire their homes due to their “old” wiring. Many times the reason for their concerns are due to misinformation.  One should not be concerned with the type of wiring that they have as much as the instillation of the electrical components, open splices and contact of live wires with years of insulation that is not compatible with their electrical wiring.

Common types of electric wiring in your home

Knob and Tube Wiring

Knob and tube was the earliest residential wiring system used in the United States. Electricians would use individual conductors which consisted of an outer cloth braid with an inner rubber coating covering the conductor (wire). Wherever the conductor passed through any wooden Close up photo of Knob and Tube Wiring at Slusher in Chester castructure, porcelain tubes were used to deflect any heat or arcing that may occur between the wire and the wood. Also, porcelain knobs and cleats were used to support the wire as it passed along the attic to its termination point. At certain locations, it was required that the wire be spliced in order to redirect the wires to different locations. These splice points are the points that the homeowner should pay close attention to. These splice points were often soldered together or simply twisted together and then electrical tape was placed over the splice. Due to the open air installation of the knob and tube wiring, dissipation of heat was good, however these splice points would become hot and could melt the tape. Another concern with knob and tube is that in the days of knob and tube there was no insulation to speak of. During the mid 70’s it became popular to blow in insulation and contact with these splices created a fire hazard.

Cloth Braided Wire

During the 1950’s the wire industry began to transition from from the knob and tube wiring to cloth braided wire and the insulation on the wire from the gum-rubber insulation to thermoplastic or PVC rubber insulation. Rubber was very soft, so a cotton braid or wrap was added as an outer Cloth Braided Wiring in your homecovering for mechanical protection. This new cloth braided wire was actually suitable for outdoor use due to the incorporation of three braids or wraps that were saturated with a waterproofing compound. This new rubber PVC held color pigment better and would not become brittle and crack with age. The biggest concern with this type of wiring is often times the person who installed the wire would use staples to hold the wire in place and would, sometimes, hammer the staple too tight and with time the wire would become hot at that point and defect. Another concern would be that at points where the wire is terminated, the insulation should be trimmed back in a clean manner because the frayed cloth prevents a fire concern.

NM-B Jacketed Cable

nmb-jacketed-cable-slusherCurrent residential wiring applications consist of a wire called non-metallic sheathed cable or NM-B. It is used in both exposed and concealed areas of dry locations only. The conductors are coated with PVC rubber. The ground wire is wrapped with paper and laid parallel between the two insulated conductors. The entire construction is wrapped in paper under the outer jacket. This wire is approved by the NEC and the only real concern is whether the wire is terminated properly in a junction box with a cover to insure the wires cannot be tampered with.

Things to look for when inspecting your electrical wiring

Knob and tube wiring was phased out in the 1930’s yet is still present in many homes throughout the United States. It is highly suggested that, if you have knob and tube, and insulation around your knob and tube, that you upgrade your wiring. Unfortunately, cost is a factor. In the meantime, it is worth the homeowners time to inspect the tubes, knobs and splice points and look for apparent “hot spots”. All splices should be placed in junction boxes by a licenced electrician. As soon as the homeowner can afford to do so, replace the knob and tube wiring with NM-B wiring.

Cloth braided wiring should be thoroughly inspected. Check to make sure that all staples are secure, yet not so tight that the wire is being crushed. Also, if there are any splices that are not in junction boxes, they need to be. And insure that if they are in junction boxes, that they are connected in a neat and clean fashion and a cover on the box to insure safety.

NM-B wiring should be inspected and like with the cloth braided wire, all connections should be in junction boxes with covers and staples should be loose but secure.

When is it time to bring in a professional?

If you have any issues with your electrical wiring or are concerned about your home’s wiring, don’t hesitate to hire a professional electrical contractor like Slusher.  Slusher Plumbing Heating Cooling Electric is a licensed and certified Electrician and serves the Chester, Susanville and Quincy areas.  

Other common electrical services we offer:

  • Landscape lighting
  • Christmas light outlets & installation
  • Fixture installation
  • Switch & outlet repairs
  • Electric water heaters
  • Electric wall & basement heaters
  • Roof & gutter snow & ice melt
  • Home automation
  • Home theatre systems
  • Security
  • Over and under cabinet lighting
  • recessed and track lighting installation
  • Spa hookups
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Lake Almanor Springtime Home Safety Checklist

UPDATED MARCH 6, 2018

Well, the time has come when we have to start thinking about preparing our homes for the summer.  The 2017-18 winter has been particularly warm, so it is a good time to start planning things.  We have provided a home maintenance checklist PDF below.  

As the days warm up and we are able to return to our cabins in the Lake Almanor area and poke around the outside of our homes, it becomes time to inventory the toll that Mother Nature has inflicted over the winter.  Whether you are performing regular inspections of your mechanical systems or one of our professionally trained technicians comes to your home, it is important that you have a plan.  I have compiled a handy checklist for homeowners to help them put together a springtime home safety inspection so that they can better identify potential hazards before they become much bigger problems.  Please take the time to study the guide and contact Slusher Plumbing Heating Cooling Electric  if you have any specific questions regarding troubles at your home.  Download and print off a copy of our list to take with your while you perform your inspection.

Happy Spring Cleaning,  

David Jr.  

Water System

  1. Confirm main water shut-off turns freely.  If valve is tight after 2-3 full cycles, replacement should be considered.
  2. Purge air on start-up from both hot and cold water lines at every fixture.
  3. Once water has been turned on to the house, check under all sinks and toilets to ensure shut-off valves, supply lines, and traps are leak free.
  4. Adjust water level at toilet fill valve if needed and listen for a leaky flapper.  Replace if necessary.
  5. Make sure water heater drain, shut-off valve, water supply lines, and temperature and pressure relief are leak free.
  6. Check exterior hose bibs for leaks.
  7. Run dishwasher, washer machine, and ice maker.  Check for leaks behind and under the appliances.
  8. Check and replace cracked or bulging washer machine hoses.  

Electric System

  1. Confirm all air has been purged at water heater on start-up by testing (manually tripping) temperature and pressure relief valve before energizing water heater.  It is safe to energize once a full stream of water has discharged.  
  2. Test all GFCI and AFCI circuits (manually trip).  
  3. Test surge protectors (manually trip).
  4. Test motion and dawn to dusk sensors at exterior lighting.
  5. Replace flickering or burned out light bulbs and ballasts.  
  6. Clean dust from behind, front, underside of refrigerator for increased efficiency.
  7. Clean and dust ceiling fan blades and motor.
  8. Clean and dust electronics.  

Gas System

  1. Confirm LPG tank has sufficient gas to operate appliances, greater than 30%.
  2. Light all standing pilots at gas appliances.
  3. Confirm all air has been purged at water heater on start-up by testing (manually tripping) temperature and pressure relief valve before lighting or energizing water heater.
  4. Inspect all gas appliances for sooting or abnormal ignition (lazy or jumping flame) which may indicate unstable gas pressure.  Contact a professional gas technician to adjust.
  5. Clean and inspect Gas BBQ.  Fill LPG tank, check for cracked hoses and leaking valves.
  6. Inspect flue pipe caps for snow damage (crushing) and critter infestation that may block exhaust flow.  

Irrigation System

  1. Inspect irrigation backflow and control valves for leaks once water has been reestablished.  Replace any valves that are hard to turn or are leaking.  
  2. Reset irrigation timer.  Replace battery backup.  
  3. Uncover and clean weather sensor.    
  4. Manually test each station at the timer to ensure proper control function.  
  5. Inspect all sprinkler heads for breaks, inadequate flow, and erratic spray.

Heating and Air Conditioning Systems

  1. Replace batteries at carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.  Test (manually trip).  
  2. Replace HVAC systems filters.
  3. Manually operate heating system for a minimum of 30 minutes to ensure heat is produced and safeties are working normally.  
  4. Remove air conditioner cover.  Vacuum and wash pine needles/ leaves, pollens and dust from coils.  
  5. Manually operate air conditioning system for a minimum of 30 minutes to ensure cooling is produced and safeties are working normally.  
  6. Service and test evaporative cooler.  Replace pads, clean sump, lube bearings, inspect and replace worn belts.  

Woodstove/Fireplace

  1. Inspect chimney/flue for cracks and water leaks.
  2. Inspect chimney cap for snow damage (crushing).
  3. Clean firebox and catalytic converter.  
  4. Schedule a chimney cleaning if not done in the fall.  

Septic System

  1. Septic tanks should be pumped every 4-6 years, spring is best.  
  2. Add septic treatment (bottled anaerobic bacteria cultures) to jump start system digestion.  
  3. Test sewer pump alarm (manually trip).
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