Lamp Repair and Restoration

August 6, 2015

DLandL FinalV2aOk, its time to confess…. I’ve been cheating. Yes that’s right, I have another business/webpage.

Several years ago we had the opportunity to acquire a lamp repair business. Granted, its maybe not the most high tech cutting edge opportunity you would first think of, but on the other hand it fits right in my wheel house.  My hobbies have always involved building, restoring and repairing; be it motorcycles, houses, lawnmowers, sprinkler systems, mixers, lamps, etc., etc. When I went to college, getting a degree in Industrial Technology just seemed to fit.  So, when one of my life long friends that had been repairing lamps and lights decided to give it up and move to the country we jumped at the chance to keep the light burning.

So with that said, we started Dallas Lamp & Light.  Dallas Lamp & Light is a locally owned WhiteRock/East Dallas business specializing in light fixture repair as well as complete lamp restoration and redesign. Electrical rewiring is our  core competency but we also have the expertise and facilities to perform full rejuvenation including surface restoration of metal, wood and ceramics. Look to Dallas Lamp and Light to bring light back to your lamps and fixtures.

We carry a complete stock of  replacement components, including switches, cords, fixture receptacles and brass hardware. We also have a collection of over 35 years of specialty parts that can be used to bring your light back to tip-top shape.

Looking to update the look of a lamp? We can re-coat metal surfaces with traditional metal lamp colors and finishes as well as any color under the rainbow. Typically, we use either acrylic enamels,  thermoset and thermoplastic polymer coatings in lieu of plating to reduce exposure to environmental concerns. These coatings are very durable and work well in this application.

Interested in making a lamp from a favorite item? We can do that too! From musical instruments to bowling balls, we can turn that special treasure into a functional part of your household.

If you are local to the  Dallas Ft. Worth metroplex, or want to pack up that lamp and send it to me, we can help put the light back into most any lamp.

BOB

 

 

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Washing Machine Inspection – Cheap Insurance

January 1, 2015

The Insurance Industry reports over $200 million in water damages a year related to washing machines each year.

Most of us never think that one event caused by the washing machine can quickly create serious damage to our house in less than a few hours. In fact, if one of the water hoses connected the washer were to break, it will release approximately 600 gallons of water in an hour.

The cheapest insurance to protect against a bursting water hose in the house  is to turn the water off at the wall after each use.. Congratulations if you have the conviction and memory to do this on a daily basis…. I don’t.

Most washers are equipped with standard light duty water hoses rated for 3-5 years of service. At the least, a yearly inspection can reduce the risk, but it still not a guarantee that it will protect you from an inevitable flood.

Yearly Inspection: At the least, performing this inspection will further reduce the probability of having a flood associated with the washing machine.

  1. Clearance: The washer should maintain a 4-5 inch gap between the back of the washer and wall. Ensure the hoses are not crimped or kinked.
  2. Hoses: With the water on, grab the hoses and move them around to ensure they are still very pliable.   Granted, they will be a little stiff since they are under pressure. Run your hands over the entire surface area of both the hot and cold hoses looking for any abnormalities, such as bubbles (like in the picture)  or surface cracks. Move the hoses in a circular motion specifically around the collar terminations at the washer and at the wall.  Typically this is where the hose will break. Be ready, this inspection may cause the  hose to leak or  break. If so, be ready to turn the water off. TIP: As with all plumbing work, make sure you can successfully turn the water off before starting the inspection. ANY amount of water detected is enough to warrant replacement of the hoses, unless the leak is at the threaded connections.
  3. Connections: Make sure the threaded connectors are tight at both the wall and the washer.
  4. Hose Inspection Part II: Turn the washer on to warm, as the washer is filling up, turn the water off (H&C) at the wall. Turn the washer off allowing the hoses to drain a bit into the washer.  Inspect the rubber hoses again for pliability.
  5. Final Inspection: When finished with #4, turn the water back on and reset the washer; re inspect the hoses and connectors  for leaks.

Upgrade Solution:

For those of you that have experienced a flood of this type, or like me, prefer, to fix it before it breaks you have a couple other options to consider. Most of you know, I am kind of a techno-nerd. So at this point, it would be easy for me to jump off into a solution with electric solenoids, wifi based alerting sensors and such, but this one only requires the KISS  approach (keep it simple stupid). If you look at my article on “How Long Will They Last“, you will see a clothes washer should last you about 13 years.  Lets look at the  choices for hoses:

  • Standard Replacement Rubber Hoses: With a life expectancy of the 3-5 years and a cost of ***  and an hour of labor to do it. If you have to use a professional, add another $75 bucks, it’s about $100 every 3 to 5 years or $300 over the lifetime of the washer. TIP: This is a fairly simple exercise similar to changing a garden hose, but you will have to move the washer around to get to the hoses.
  • Metal Braided PVC Hoses: Considered an upgrade,  easily acquired at the big box store and priced at approximately $30 for the pair. With a life expectancy of 5 years (at best). These hoses give the appearance of sustainable life, but in reality the stainless steel braiding serves to protect a standard type PVC hose from the natural elements, otherwise it would  not be anymore  durable than the standard rubber hose.  It can break easily at or near the connectors as well.
  • High Grade Rubber Hoses: If you have been around much construction equipment, you are well aware of the use of rubber hoses used in hydraulics. These hoses are under constant high pressure at the tune of about 1400 lbs. Our last recommeded supplier of high quality hoses went out of business. HomeownerBOB will investigate another solution and update this post accordingly.

Ok, so this solution wasnt good enough for you, here are some items  that are belts and suspenders. However, for me, the upgraded hoses are more than adequate. I say this because the solenoids will stop the water in the even of a flood, they also induce new failure points that are not worth it in my book.

  • Electric Solenoids: Floodstop will detect water on the floor and tell the water to shut off at the washer connection.
  • Water Alarm Detector: This device works in conjunction with your burglar alarm activating an alarm condition that would report to you or the burglar alarm monitoring company. NOTE: Unfortunately, by the time you get home, the damage is done.
  • Whole House Flood Detector: This is the premium solution as it allows sensors any where and everywhere. If you house is over 10,000 sq. feet, you might consider this, otherwise its pretty expensive.

Attic Inspection – Vents and Stacks

December 23, 2011

U.S. EPA  studies report unintentional carbon monoxide exposure accounts for an estimated 15,000 emergency department visits and 500 unintentional deaths in the United States each year.

Many of us only go to the attic for one reason; to get Christmas decorations. Its real easy to get the boxes and go, but there are good reasons to check things out while you are there. This picture is a combination of venting that should not occur. Hopefully you won’t find this during your inspection.

Reasons to inspect your attic:

  1. Recent activity: HVAC technicians, roofing activity, telephone repairman or  remodeling activity are all reasons to make these inspections.
  2. Rat, rodent infestation.
  3. Once a year “at Christmas Time”!!

What to inspect in your attic: As you should know, there are several devices in your home that requires venting, including water heaters, stoves, vent-a-hoods, wall heaters, clothes dryers and bathroom vents. Catagoricly these have different function as well as outcome associated with it, if it is not functioning properly. The following 4 pictures show what good vent pipes should look like. The bad ones are all together at the end.

  1. Water Heaters,  vent-a-hoods, wall heaters, stoves and HVAC systems: Any of these devices that use natural gas and require proper venting to exhaust the fumes from the burners (carbon monoxide) require an outlet. Typical vents consist of  a tin pipe 2″-8″ in diameter  connected from the top of the unit, then exits directly above through a roof vent cap. For years it was common to find these tin pipes just loosely fitted to each other on their way out. For this reason they are very easily knocked loose or disconnected. Current building codes now require the joints of these pipe to be secured and air tight. As seen in the first picture, the bends have been coated with HVAC mastic to complete the seal. The second picture is a water heater that was secured (screws holding the pipe together), but lacked the seal. We used standard HVAC aluminum tape to properly seal it.
  2. Clothes Dryers: If the dryer is electric, the only vent would be the standard dryer vent. If it uses natural gas it would have a vent similar to those in item #1.  It could be vented out the roof or to an outside wall. All the pipe joints should be securely connected and sealed to be air tight. Read the link on Clothes Dryer  Design for details of the standard dryer vent. An unsealed dryer vent can cause excessive moisture, humidity as well as an ugly mess.
  3. Bathroom Vents: Typically 2″-3″ tin pipe. It too can be vented through the roof or wall. Unsealed bathroom vents are similar to Dryers in that they can cause excessive moisture and humidity.
  4. Plumbing Vents: These will have a different appearance than other vents as they will be either PVC plastic, cast iron or heavy galvanized pipes. They are typically very rigid and will be near or above almost all plumbing drains, toilets, sinks, showers and tubs. It’s not as common to find these vents disconnected or unsealed, but possible. Unsealed plumbing vents will release unwanted sewer gas including  a mixture of ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, hydrogen sulfide and a little sulfur dioxide, all considered toxic.
  5. Wood Stoves and Fireplaces: Many new style non-masonry style chimneys are just huge vent pipes (6″ to 12″). These pipes are designed a bit different and if installed correctly will typically not be an issue, but should be inspected in the same manner as any fuel using device exhaust vent pipe. Masonry flues are typically double walled (or should be). If you have had foundation issues or see cracks with gaps of 1/8″or larger, there may be a reason to be concerned. A leaky chimney flue will emit  CO into the attic like #1.
  6. Portable Heating devices: Kerosene heaters were very popular in the 1980’s, (yes, I still have one). In cases like this, you must crack open a window or door to ensure fresh air is brought into the room as the heater will easily displace the oxygen.
  7. Attached Garages: Idling cars with the garage door closed can be a source of CO as it can migrate through the attic into the house.

Carbon monoxide is produced by common household appliances. When not properly ventilated,  carbon monoxide emitted by these appliances can build up. Red blood cells in the body pick up CO quicker than they pick up oxygen. If there is a lot of CO in the air, the body may replace oxygen in blood with CO. This blocks oxygen from getting into the body, which can damage tissues and result in death.

Inspection Method:

  1. Before entering the attic, (especially the first time), write a note of what vents or stacks you are looking for. It’s very easy to get disoriented once in the attic. The first time you perform this inspection, it could take 45 minutes. Take a good flashlight with you. You may also want to wear a long sleeve shirt and pants to avoid contact with attic insulation. Also wear a dust mask and safety glasses. Make sure and stay on the wood rafters or plank pathways as you may put your foot through the ceiling.
  2. Note that you may not find a vent stack for each and every device. Especially plumbing devices. Many times plumbers will combine these together before they enter the attic. This is an acceptable method.
  3. Any one of the following eight pictures is somethings you may find. Unsealed, disconnected, open-ended pipes, pulled connections and just flat-out don’t exist. You may even find a section of pipe just laying in the attic. If so, look for a buried vent stack coming out of the ceiling and an associated roof vent with nothing connected.
  4. The intent with any of these vents is to achieve an air tight seal. In cases where the joints are secure but open, using Aluminum Foil Tape will properly seal the joint. If the joint is disconnected, secure it with screws or expanding hose clamps, then seal with the tape.
  5. If the pipe does not go anywhere, you will need to build or create one.  This is a mid-level DIY project, professional handyman or even plumber. If you plan to do it your self, look for data on the device being vented for recommendations or requirements for the associated venting.
  6. And lastly, buy a CO detector for the interior of the house. These look very simular to a smoke detector and can be installed on wall ceiling of placed on top of a piece of furniture.  They can be purchased on line or at the orange box store.


How Long Will They Last? Household Materials and Appliances

January 23, 2010

 Ever wondered how long household appliance should last? How about that fiberglass tub you are thinking about buying instead of a cast iron one?

With proper maintenance and inspection these items should provide adequate service to you and your household.

This list is courtesy of the U.S Dept of Housing and Urban Development. Printed in 2000.

Life Expectancy of Household Components
Appliances Life in years
Compactors 10
Dishwashers 10
Dryers 14
Disposal 10
Freezers, compact 12
Freezers, standard 16
Microwave ovens 11
Electric ranges 17
Gas ranges 19
Gas ovens 14
Refrigerators, compact 14
Refrigerators, standard 17
Washers, automatic and compact 13
Exhaust fans 20
Source: Appliance Statistical Review, April 1990
Bathrooms Life in years
Cast iron bathtubs 50
Fiberglass bathtub and showers 10-15
Shower doors, average quality 25
Toilets 50
Sources: Neil Kelly Designers, Thompson House of Kitchens and Bath
Cabinetry Life in years
Kitchen cabinets 15-20
Medicine cabinets and bath vanities 20
Sources: Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, Neil Kelly Designers
Closet systems Life in years
Closet shelves Lifetime
Countertops Life in years
Laminate 10-15
Ceramic tile, high-grade installation Lifetime
Wood/butcher block 20+
Granite 20+
Sources: AFPAssociates of Western Plastics, Ceramic Tile Institute of America
Doors Life in years
Screen 25-50
Interior, hollow core Less than 30
Interior, solid core 30-lifetime
Exterior, protected overhang 80-100
Exterior, unprotected and exposed 25-30
Folding 30-lifetime
Garage doors 20-50
Garage door opener 10
Sources: Wayne Dalton Corporation, National Wood Window and Door Association, Raynor Garage Doors
Electrical Life in years
Copper wiring, copper plated, copper clad aluminum, and bare copper 100+
Armored cable (BX) Lifetime
Conduit Lifetime
Source: Jesse Aronstein, Engineering Consultant
Finishes used for waterproofing Life in years
Paint, plaster, and stucco 3-5
Sealer, silicone, and waxes 1-5
Source: Brick Institute of America Floors
Floors Life in years
Oak or pine Lifetime
Slate flagstone Lifetime
Vinyl sheet or tile 20-30
Terrazzo Lifetime
Carpeting (depends on installation, amount of traffic, and quality of carpet) 11
Marble (depends on installation, thickness of marble, and amount of traffic) Lifetime+
Sources: Carpet and Rug Institute, Congoleum Corporation, Hardwood Plywood Manufacturers Association, Marble Institute, National Terrazzo and Mosaic Association, National Wood Flooring Association, Resilient Floor Covering Institute
Footings and foundation Life in years
Poured footings and foundations 200
Concrete block 100
Cement 50
Waterproofing, bituminous coating 10
Termite proofing (may have shorter life in damp climates) 5
Source: WR Grace and Company
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) Life in years
Central air conditioning unit (newer units should last longer) 15
Window unit 10
Air conditioner compressor 15
Humidifier 8
Electric water heater 14
Gas water heater (depends on type of water heater lining and quality of water) 11-13
Forced air furnaces, heat pump 15
Rooftop air conditioners 15
Boilers, hot water or steam (depends on quality of water) 30
Furnaces, gas- or oil-fired 18
Unit heaters, gas or electric 13
Radiant heaters, electric 10
Radiant heaters, hot water or steam 25
Baseboard systems 20
Diffusers, grilles, and registers 27
Induction and fan coil units 20
Dampers 20
Centrifugal fans 25
Axial fans 20
Ventilating roof-mounted fans 20
DX, water, and steam coils 20
Electric coils 15
Heat Exchangers, shell-and-tube 24
Molded insulation 20
Pumps, sump and well 10
Burners 21
Sources: Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, Air Conditioning, Heating, and Refrigeration News, Air Movement and Control Association, American Gas Association, American Society of Gas Engineers, American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Inc., Safe Aire Incorporated
Home security appliances Life in years
Intrusion systems 14
Smoke detectors 12
Smoke/fire/intrusion systems 10
Insulation Life in years
For foundations, roofs, ceilings, walls, and floors Lifetime
Sources: Insulation Contractors Association of America, North American Insulation Manufacturers Association
Landscaping Life in years
Wooden decks 15
Brick and concrete patios 24
Tennis courts 10
Concrete walks 24
Gravel walks 4
Asphalt driveways 10
Swimming pools 18
Sprinkler systems 12
Fences 12
Sources: Associated Landscape Contractors of America, Irrigation Association
Masonry Life in years
Chimney, fireplace, and brick veneer Lifetime
Brick and stone walls 100+
Stucco Lifetime
Sources: Brick Institute of America, Architectural Components, National Association of Brick Distributors, National Stone Association
Millwork Life in years
Stairs, trim 50-100
Disappearing stairs 30-40
Paints and stains Life in years
Exterior paint on wood, brick, and aluminum 7-10
Interior wall paint (depends on the acrylic content) 5-10
Interior trim and door paint 5-10
Wallpaper 7
Sources: Finnaren and Haley, Glidden Company, The Wall Paper
Plumbing Life in years
Waste piping, cast iron 75-100
Sinks, enamel steel 5-10
Sinks, enamel cast iron 25-30
Sinks, china 25-30
Faucets, low quality 13-15
Faucets, high quality 15-20
Sources: American Concrete Pipe Association, Cast Iron Soil and Pipe Institute, Neil Kelly Designers, Thompson House of Kitchens and Baths
Roofing Life in years
Asphalt and wood shingles and shakes 15-30
Tile (depends on quality of tile and climate) 50
Slate (depends on grade) 50-100
Sheet metal (depends on gauge of metal and quality of fastening and application) 20-50+
Built-up roofing, asphalt 12-25
Built-up roofing, coal and tar 12-30
Asphalt composition shingle 15-30
Asphalt overlag 25-35
Source: National Roofing Contractors Association
Rough structure Life in years
Basement floor systems Lifetime
Framing, exterior and interior walls Lifetime
Source: NAHB Research Foundation
Shutters Life in years
Wood, interior Lifetime
Wood, exterior (depends on weather conditions) 4-5
Vinyl plastic, exterior 7-8
Aluminum, interior 35-50
Aluminum, exterior 3-5
Sources: A.C. Shutters, Inc., Alcoa Building Products, American Heritage Shutters
Siding Life in years
Gutters and downspouts 30
Siding, wood (depends on maintenance) 10-100
Siding, steel 50-Lifetime
Siding, aluminum 20-50
Siding, vinyl 50
Sources: Alcoa Building Products, Alside, Inc., Vinyl Siding Institute
Walls and window treatments Life in years
Drywall and plaster 30-70
Ceramic tile, high grade installation Lifetime
Sources: Association of Wall and Ceiling Industries International, Ceramic Tile Institute of America
Windows Life in years
Window glazing 20
Wood casement 20-50
Aluminum and vinyl casement 20-30
Screen 25-50
Sources: Best Built Products, Optimum Window Manufacturing, Safety Glazing Certification Council, Screen Manufacturers Association

Inspecting & Cleaning Clothes Dryer Vents

December 27, 2009

 In 1998 the US Consumer Product Safety Commission associated 15,600 household fires to clothes dryers. Many of these fires can be related to lint build up in the dryer exhaust duct. This number may not appear to be significant, but the potential loss for anyone would be.

A full load of clothes contain about 1/2 gallon of water. Lint is created as a by-product of removing the water from the clothes. Even though many would believe the lint filter in the dryer takes care of most  lint concerns, they would be wrong. Pulling out your dryer from the wall after about a month of use will reveal lint that did not get caught by the dryer nor did it make it through the vent duct but escaped outside the duct system.

REASONS TO INSPECT THE DRYER AND VENT SYSTEM:

  1. Excessively long drying times
  2. Clothes are very hot at the end of their cycle
  3. Clothes are still damp after completion of their cycle
  4. Dryer has become noisier than usual
  5. Premature dryer failure associated with heating element, motor or bearings
  6. Existing dryer is more than 5 years old
  7. High usage applications (every day use)
  8. Recent dryer replacement

 

 

Besides the items mentioned above, you may have installation or design issues that may be causing your dryer not to operate properly.  Take a look at these items for a more in-depth inspection.

  1. Excessive Duct Length: The International Mechanical Code, article 504.6  and 913 defines a maximum length of 25 ft. For each 45 degree turn, reduce that number by 2.5 ft. and 5 ft. for each 90 degree turn. If your dryer is not on an outside wall and the dryer duct is routed through the attic or under the house you probably have two 90 degree turns.  If you include the vertical distance (attic or basement) with two 90 degree turns, you have an approximate budget of 9-13 ft. from the rear of the dryer to the outside wall (this is not very far). Excessive distance may cause buildup to occur more rapidly. The diameter of the pipe should be 4 inches. If you can’t change the distance, inspect and clean the duct more regularly or consider adding a booster fan.
  2. Excessive Vertical Distance: Pushing this air up has its limitation. (see the Whirlpool document listed below for back pressure requirements). If your system exceeds the vertical hight of one story (8 ft.) you may need to measure the back pressure with a manometer and consider a booster fan for adequate dryer ventilation.
  3. System Integrity: Visibly walk (or crawl) the entire duct where it is exposed (attic, crawl space, basement, etc.) to ensure all fittings are tight, secure, straight and clear not crimped or bent up. TIP: Performing this function while the dryer is running will help find problems quicker.
  4. PVC Piping: The use of PVC (plastic) pipe should be avoided completely as excessive heat can melt the plastic (PVC will melt at 140 F).  Besides the temperature issue, PVC has a tendency to create static electricity that can contribute to the build up. If PVC is used, consider having it replaced with ridged metal duct work. 
  5. Plastic or Thin Flexible Connection Duct: This would be the “transition” ducting to connect the dryer to the wall outlet.  A ridged solution is the best but many times a flexible duct is required due to the lack of space. There are dozens of choices even though the big orange box may only have two. You may have to use the internet to find the best product for your requirement. Check out Fixitnow.com as a great source to review your duct options. Avoid the plastic or thin foil slinky type at all costs. If you need one that is flexible, find a simi-flexible non-kinking type. If you find the plastic or thin foil type in your system, replacement is recommended. Try to find one with a UL listing on the packaging.
  6. Kinks, Tight Bends & Rough Interior Surfaces: A smooth free flow path with minimal bends and turns is the most ideal installation.
  7. The entire duct system should be metal: Otherwise you may have excessive static electricty.  Make sure there is continuity from end to end from the dryer to the outside vent, 3) Ensure the dryer is correctly grounded, 3) Check the grounding of the AC Breaker panel, 4)Make sure there are no plastic fittings or section in the system. By having a properly grounded dryer and the metal vent is connected to the dryer, the static electricty will have a good path to ground.

In 1999 the US Consumer Product Safety Commission reported of the 15,000 house fires studied, electric dryers were over 2.5 times more likely the cause of the fire over a gas dryer and that the most frequent locations were the dryer vent and lint trap.

INSPECTING & SERVICING DRYER AND DRYER DUCTING

  1. Clean lint screen/ filter before each use: This is mandatory, running the dryer with a clogged filter screen will force the dryer to push the air and lint into other places, such as in the interior of the dryer as well as the laundry closet area.
  2. Clean under and around the dryer: Pull the dryer away from the wall or out of the it space and clean the floor and walls and underneath the dryer. Perform this yearly.
  3. Dryer interior space: You will have to make this call regarding your experience to perform this item. With the dryer disconnected from the wall (electric plug and duct), remove the inspection plate on the rear of the dryer. Inspect for excessive lint and remove with a vacuum cleaner. Inspect as often as yearly, but every three years may be sufficient.
  4. Remove and clean the transition duct: If you can remove this, take it outside and use a vacuum cleaner, compressed air or water hose to throughly clean this out. NOTE: if you use water, get it good and dry before you replace it.  Normally once a year should work. 
  5. Clean the dryer duct (in-wall):  There are a dozen ways to do this, but I like the “Chimney Sweep” type product. Using a portable drill attached to the device,  you can run this through the pipe and it will scrub out all the lint. I like to do it from the outside with the dryer running (yes it makes a mess) but it does a great job. If you don’t want to invest in the tool, consider hiring a professional. The worst thing you could do is getting something stuck in it, which would put you out of business and make matters worse.  Inspect this once a year and clean it as required. I use the LintEater  and found it to be an excellent product with great instructions and a hand full of accessories for the everyday homeowner. Its about $35.

Specific codes that define the use of dryers and the installation of  venting duct work include but not limited to: International Mechanical Code, article 504.6  and 913, UL 2158 par. 7.3,  ANSI Z21.5.1 Gas Dryers as well as local codes and ordinances.  This Whirlpool link provides a nice detailed vent specification as well as pressure measurements if you are building a new dryer vent system and need to provide a contractor the specifics.