Apr 02

Why Even Electric Water Heaters Require a TPR Extension Pipe

I recently read a story of a water heating unit that did not have a TPR valve properly installed on it, effectively turning it into a ballistic missile when it malfunctioned:

A Water Heater Can Become an Explosive Missile:

“The steam-powered tank hurtled across the busy intersection at First Avenue South and South 152nd Street — over at least six lanes of traffic — before landing more than 439 feet away in the parking lot of a Pizza Hut. …[the] water heater landed 70 feet from a Kannapolis, North Carolina, home and did an estimated $20,000 worth of damage when it exploded. According to the report, the heater lacked a TPR valve altogether.”

What is a TPR Valve?

Most home owners do not know what a TPR valve is or looks like, let alone the importance of having one. In any event, these little valves should never be capped, sealed shut, or left without having an extension pipe added. In case you aren’t familiar, a TPR valve stands for Temperature Pressure Release Valve. This valve is designed to release water from a water heater if either the temperature is too high or if the pressure is too high. The point is, if pressure builds up in a water heater, the valve releases the pressure by letting water out, as opposed to creating an unpredictable and dangerous exploding missile.

What is a TPR Valve Extension Pipe?

Codes require that an extension tailpipe be added to a TPR valve so that if any pressure builds up and is forced out, then it will not spray accidentally into someone’s face, but will spray towards the floor. The TPR valves are installed either on the top of a unit or on the side of water heaters. The extension tailpipe, also called a discharge pipe, should terminate no more than six inches off of the floor, per building safety codes.

Photo of a TPR valve at top of an electric water heater (in the center):

Photo of a combustion water heater with side TPR valve:

A missing TPR valve extension pipe is one of the more common mistakes found in a home inspection. Recently, when I found a water heater in a home that was recently installed, that did not have a TPR extension pipe, the owner outlined that the plumber had stated that TPR valve extension pipes are not required on electric water heaters. This did not seem correct for a number of reasons. First, if there is no need for any TPR tail pipe on an electric water heater, then this implies that there is no need for a TPR valve at all on such units. However, the Rheem electric water heater in question did have a TPR valve installed on its top (see the first photo, above). Only tank-less, on-demand water heaters come with no TPR valve, because there is no storage tank that can possibly build up pressure.

In order to get some more feedback on the electric Rheem unit, I called the manufacturer. The Rheem technical service assistant told me on the phone that I needed to call the local building code office to find out if it is required by code. However, when I asked for the official advice of Rheem, he said that  TPR valve extension pipes are recommended on all of their water heaters, whether combustion or electric. When you consider that TPR valves release not just based on pressure, but also based on extreme temperature, then this makes all the more sense. When in doubt, it is better to be safe than sorry, especially with regard to such an inexpensive add on.

Tags: Do electric water heaters need a TPR pipe, what is a TPR valve? code for electric water heater TPR pipe, house safety, TPR discharge pipe,


Jun 13

LI Boiler & Smoke Detector Recalls for CO Poisoning

Recall-Kidde - CO-alarm-100x100




There are certain issues that you don’t want to take lightly, and domestic carbon monoxide poisoning is one of them. CO is odorless and deadly. I once inspected an occupied basement apartment that had a boiler room covered with soot that was venting directly into the apartment. Not good. On Long Island, unfortunately, it seems that there is almost annual news of people dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. See here and here for two examples.

Recall of LI New Yorker Boilers

In 2014, there was a published recall of New Yorker boilers that had been installed on Long Island. “Plumbing Consultant Robert Gramman said thousands of the recalled boilers were installed as part of the KeySpan National Grid incentive program from 2005 to 2013.” – The New Yorker boilers, AKA Utica boilers, have, “an air-pressure switch that can fail, resulting in carbon monoxide poisoning.” I recently inspected a home with a New Yorker boiler, but it was manufactured in 1997. The following 2 websites help to identify the age of a New Yorker (Utica) boiler using the serial number:



Recall of Kidde Smoke / CO Alarms

According to a published report, 1.2 million Kidde CO / smoke alarms manufactured between the dates of Dec. 18, 2013 and May 13, 2014 are being recalled. The defective alarms “may fail to sound during a fire or a CO incident.” If you have Kidde alarms that had been replaced beginning from December 2013, please check the manufacturing date and return them if the manufacturing date falls within the noted window of time. 

Remember that just having smoke detectors in your home is not enough. And because each CO detector manufacturer has different installation instructions based on the specific design of the CO alarm unit, its important to read the instructions for the placement of your CO detectors.InterNACHI describes important facts on this subject in more detail. In New York State, the installation of CO detectors is also a code issue, as quoted from a law published in 2010:

“Specific reasons underlying the finding of necessity: Adoption of this rule on an emergency basis is required to preserve public safety by requir ing the installation of carbon monoxide alarms in all one- and two-family dwellings, townhouse dwellings, dwelling accommodations in buildings owned as condominiums or cooperatives, and multiple dwellings, without regard to the date of construction or sale of such buildings, as required by Amanda’s Law (Chapter 367 of the Laws of 2009), which will reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by carbon monoxide poisoning and, in the words of the sponsor of the bill that became Amanda’s Law, “create safer homes for New Yorkers;”

Tags: preventing carbon monoxide poisoning, carbon monoxide poisoning on Long Island, Consumer Product Safety Commission, placement of CO detectors and alarms, locations of CO alarms, recalls of hazardous boilers, recalls of hazardous CO alarms, Amanda’s Law CO alarms NY

Mar 05

How to Prepare for a Home Inspection – Buyers


Most serious mortgage lenders require a home inspection prior to purchasing a home. And there are different ways that buyers and sellers can prepare for a home inspection once a home inspector has been selected. In this article I’ll focus on what a buyer can do in order to maximize the benefits of the inspection. The following are some key questions regarding pre-purchase inspections:

What’s included in a standard, licensed home inspection? Are environmental issues included in a standard home inspection? How can I prepare for a home inspection as a home buyer? What should I do before an inspection? What should I bring to a home inspection?

1. Know What’s Involved – First, it’s important to understand that licensed home inspectors may only report on readily accessible and observable conditions and cannot legally poke invasive holes or pry up materials. And the inspector is required to observe and report on any deteriorated and/or damaged structural components, including the following: The building foundation and framing; the floor structure. the wall structure, the ceiling structure, and the roof structure. Additional services may include such things as water testing and EMF radiation readings on a microwave and nearby high-power electrical lines. The official Standards of Practice for home inspectors outlines the scope of work regarding what is entailed in a standard home inspection. Special kinds of inspections, for example, mold testing, are beyond the standard scope and can be requested if it seems that there is a problem either before the general inspection or after. SHI will also include certain additional tests for free in the inspection above and beyond the official requirements. For example, EMF radiation tests are standard for all SHI inspections, if there is an applicable situation. Also, per NY State laws, a Pre-inspection Agreement must be signed by the client prior to the actual inspection.

2. Make a List of Questions – Because you are the one hiring the home inspector, you have a right to ask for special attention on any issues you wish to focus on. For example, if you are especially concerned about moisture and mold issues in the basement, many inspectors have a moisture meter that can detect above-average and unsafe levels of moisture in wood structural members. SHI, for example, can do this if there seems to be a moisture problem. You can also ask your lawyer and real estate agent about any potential issues that would require special attention. For example, there might be a concern about a buried oil tank in the yard of older houses. There are often signs of this in a basement.

3. Is the House Ready? – It is most helpful when the heating system is on and running and any pilot lights are on in winter and that the water system is turned on outside in warmer weather. And it’s also good to make sure that there is no clutter blocking important areas, such as the attic, mechanical equipment and garage walls. Although this is normally considered the responsibility of the owner and real estate agent, it does not hurt to check on such issues yourself and make sure that the house will be as prepared as possible.

4. Being Present can Help – A home inspection is basically a a detailed introduction to your new home and its idiosyncrasies. SHI prepares reports with 20-40 photo pages that make the issues as clear as possible. Nevertheless, there are instances when it can be beneficial to be at the location to see first-hand how something works and to better understand why something may be a potential problem. Keep in mind that an average home inspection takes about 2 ½ hours. You don’t have to be present for the entire inspection, but a concluding summary review meeting can be very helpful. Sometimes a home owner will want to be present, but this may make the home buyer uncomfortable. Because the home buyer is commissioning the inspection, the preferences of the home buyer should be top priority. It may be that the seller’s real estate agent can be present in lieu of the owner, as an alternative. Try to have these kinds of details worked out with the respective parties involved before the inspection takes place.

5. Bring a Pen and a Pad – During the home inspection you can ask the inspector about any concerns and questions. Being able to take notes will be very helpful. You might also want to take some key measurements of the house for your own planning.


A home purchase is one of the riskiest and most important financial decisions a person or family can make. It’s important to approach the subject with a bit of due diligence and preparation. If you have any questions about buying a home or evaluating a home’s condition, please don’t hesitate to contact me at my email or cell number: 631.377.2046.

Tags: Prepare for Home Inspection, How to get ready for home inspection, how to buy a home, what’s included in a standard, licensed home inspection? environmental issues not included in a standard home inspection, How to prepare for a home inspection as a home buyer, What to do before an inspection? What to bring to a home inspection?

Oct 29

House Sellers get “MoveInCertified” Home Inspections


If you are a home seller or real estate agent, would you like to see a home sell faster and with less headaches? You can get your home pre-inspected and certified ahead of time, before unexpected problems arise. With one phone call you can have your home inspected and listed as a Move-In Certified™ home. As an InterNACHI Certified Professional Inspector®, I’m qualified to do this for you. This certification means that, at a minimum, you can confirm that there are no major systems in need of immediate repair or replacement, and no known safety hazards. There are at least 10 benefits of suggesting a Move-In Certified™ Seller Inspection:

1. Instead of addressing repairs later, jump starting the inspection process will most likely speed up the sales process in the long run.
2. Many clients today won’t even look at a home that is not in good condition with immediate move-in quality.
3. You only have one chance to make a good first impression on selective buyers.
4. It’s easier for agents to sell when they are confident about the product they are selling.
5. This step by the home seller demonstrates a good-faith willingness to be more straightforward and pro-active in the sales process.
6. There will be added peace of mind knowing that no unpleasant surprises could be waiting around the corner that might ruin a prospective sale.
7. The seller inspection will likely more than pay for itself when the final contract price comes within close range of the full asking price.
8. The report will be posted at www.FetchReport.com and will be easy to download for both the seller and agent.
9. Requesting this service will set your property apart from all the others and make it more appealing.
10. Being pro-active in helping to determine the condition of the property up front helps to mitigate against any possible legal non-disclosure claims that might arise from the seller down the road.

Most safety problems are extremely easy to fix. For example, changing electrical outlets near sinks to GFCI safety outlets costs only a few dollars. But the value of having your home checked out and certified can be worth tens of thousands of dollars.

Don’t miss out on this real estate trend that can give you a competitive edge in the market as a seller. If you are interested in this service, contact Richard Warden of Southampton Home Inspections (SHI) at 631 377 2046.

Tags: SHI Hamptons seller home inspection, SHI certified seller home inspection, move-in certified home inspections, benefits of seller’s Move-In Certified™ home inspection, how to sell a home faster and better, how to stand out in real estate, trends

Mar 17

The Montauk Man Who Died From Mouse Bacteria

It’s almost spring again. Whether you are getting ready for some spring cleaning or preparing for a serious home inspection, be careful. Basements and crawl spaces can be deadly. Cancer-causing asbestos crumbs are sometimes found falling off of old heating pipes. Rare and malicious killer molds may be found slowly meandering throughout crawl spaces in the moist ocean air. And, last but not least, fatal fumes from deadly mouse microbes may be lingering in the air unnoticeable by the human eye. The following video clip outlines some tragic stories of Long Islander’s who lost their jobs. Dr. David Hartstein’s case is particularly sad because he also lost his life after he lost his job and his house.

It wasn’t very long ago, June 2011, that Dr. Hartstein was infected with a rare but deadly virus that was disseminated from infected mouse waste that was inhaled in a home crawl space in Montauk, NY. A CBS report of the incident states that the virus is deadly, but rare. ” NYC Health notes, “There have been two cases in New York State residents, both due to exposures on Long Island.”

“The disease is fatal in 38 percent of all cases, but it’s so rare there have been only four in New York in the past 17 years. Health officials said the virus was first identified in the Southwest in 1993. Nationwide, there have been only 568 cases.”

The symptoms aren’t particularly unique, and could apply to a lot of possible viruses:

“Symptoms of hantavirus include high fever, muscle aches, coughing and headache — which may appear between one and five weeks after exposure to the virus.”

If you have business to do in a basement or crawl space, the following advice is offered:

“Health officials said the best way to prevent exposure to hantavirus is to avoid contact with rodent droppings or urine, prevent infestation in the home and set traps inside empty containers to prevent contact with possibly contaminated materials… Wear gloves and a mask and aerate where you are,”

What’s particularly tragic and heart-wrenching about David Hartstein’s situation is the context. He was a 35-year-old husband and father of three who had been unemployed, was cleaning out his house due to foreclosure, and then to top it off he became infected with a deadly virus. When interviewed about her husband’s death and how it became a part of an HBO-televised documentary film, “Hard Times: Lost on Long Island”, David’s widow Heather emphasized the importance of optimism in life: “I want people to take away from our story [and the film] the realization that when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, you make a conscious decision to be joyful and not get swallowed by a sense of helplessness. . . .” The trailer to the film is at this link:

Tags: Montauk killer disease, Montauk mouse virus killed man, home safety, Long Island Hantavirus, David Hartstein, documentary of hard life on Long Island, basement & crawl space hazards