"Once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth." - Sherlock Holmes

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Aluminum Wiring in Ontario Homes

What is Wrong with Aluminum Wiring?

Aluminum wiring was used extensively in homes throughout North America between the mid 1960's until the late 1970's, primarily due to the high cost of copper wiring at the time. If buying a home built during this time period, there is a good chance that it contains aluminum wiring. But is aluminum wiring safe? The short answer is, yes. It is still in use in many applications even today, though not in residential branch circuits.

Home buyers and owners are finding that many insurance companies will not provide or renew insurance coverage on properties with aluminum wiring unless it is inspected by the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) of Ontario, and repaired or replaced as necessary to make it safe. A copy of the inspection certificate will often need to be provided to the insurer before the property can be insured. In some cases, the insurer will require replacement of the aluminum wiring with copper wiring, but this is rare and in most cases not necessary. Check with your insurance company for their requirements.

Symptoms that may indicate a problem with aluminum wiring include:

  • Flickering lights that cannot be traced to a failed bulb or other external cause
  • Switch plates and receptacles covers that are warped, discoloured or warm
  • A smell of hot burning plastic around switches and receptacles
  • Smoke or sparking around electrical devices or outlets
  • Plugs that do not work even when the circuits are energized
  • Unusual static from electronic equipment, such as, the radio, TV or computer
  • Circuit breakers or fuses that trip for no apparent reason

The Good News
The good news is that because all the problems that occur with aluminum wiring occur at the devices and junction boxes, there is usually no need to rewire the house. The wire running through the walls is normally in good shape and does not need to be replaced.

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Excerpt from Seacliff Home Inspections website | London Home Inspections 

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Sunday, May 11, 2014

Realtor-Inedpendent Home Inspector

What does that mean?

What is a "Realtor-Independent Home Inspector", anyway? You may have heard this term, but what does it mean? Generally, it refers to a home inspector that does not solicit business or market to real-estate professionals. In addition, the home inspector, and inspection, should be 100% removed from any influence of the realtor.

What's Wrong with a Real Estate Agent Recommending a Home Inspector?

EVERYTHING!

It is unethical and a huge conflict of interest. As much as agents are supposed to be on your side, they are ALWAYS working in the seller's best interests, and for the largest commission possible. Remember, the agent doesn't get paid unless the house sells! Do you believe the agent really wants you to hire someone that might jeopardize the sale? Think again.

House sales are carefully crafted, staged, and rehearsed to sell as quickly as possible with the least amount of resistance. Keep your perspective. Would you hire the mechanic that a used car salesperson recommended before buying his car? Probably not. So why would you hire the home inspector that your real estate agent (think: used home salesperson) recommended? The real-estate agent is in the business of selling houses. Do you really believe they are going to refer someone to you that is not going to help their business?

Read more...

Excerpt from Seacliff Home Inspections website | London Home Inspections 

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Saturday, March 1, 2014

Emergency Egress Window Requirements

By Howard Walsh | London Home Inspector

Minimum Requirements Differ
Few of us think of a bedroom window as a "life-saving" feature. Although bedroom windows are not considered to be ordinary escape routes, if there was ever an emergency situation, like a house fire, having the properly-sized egress window in the bedroom could be the difference between life and death. By the time an occupant is able to respond to a smoke alarm the suite may be filled with smoke and their escape route from the bedroom blocked.

Did you know:
"... a bedroom in Ontario does not require an egress window in the actual bedroom!"

The requirement for a properly-sized bedroom window has been around since 1980 and subsequent code changes since then have made it even easier to understand how a bedroom egress window is defined. Or has it? Depends on which code you reference. Regional requirements can differ from national regulations.

Ontario Building Code
This may come as a surprise to many people, or a relief to those looking to add a bedroom in the basement, but contrary to the National Building Code and popular brief, a bedroom in Ontario does not require an egress window in the actual bedroom! As long as there is an egress window or door to the exterior somewhere on the level, the requirements for egress have been met. However, there are still light and ventilation requirements for each bedroom that must be met, but that is another topic.

 Read More...

Windsor Home Inspector | Chatham Home Inspector | London Home Inspector 

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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

DropIt

Your Own Personal File Sharing Service for FREE

Like a lot of other people, I was kind of disappointed when Droplr discontinued their free service. I already had a Pro account, so there wasn't an immediate impact to me. But I don't use the service enough to really warrant the Pro account and was going to downgrade to a free account when my year was up. Because there is now no free account, I just dropped it altogether. Not that much of a problem as my sharing needs are little and I already have accounts with SkyDrive (for my documents), Copy (for my music), Google Drive (for archiving stuff I don't need), and Dropbox for simple sharing. However, I kind of liked the simplicity of Droplr. So I decided to see if I could write my own little file sharing script. DropIt is what I came up with.  

DropIt is originally based on the simple file-manager by jcampbell. I liked the simple look and feel of the file manager, but it didn't offer any sharing ability. And the upload process was limited by your webservers php settings. I tweaked the script considerably, changed the upload mechanism to plupload, and added some sharing abilities, including short-links.  

You can download the script here. Feel free to change and improve it as you wish.

Simply unzipped all the files to a subdomain on your web server, and direct your browser to the directory... and away you go. The default username and password is "admin". I suggest you change that once you are initially logged in.  

If all goes well, everything should just work out-of-the-box. Depending on your server, you may have to tweak the ".htaccess" file a bit to get sharing to work if your server isn't set up similar to mine. The script uses a SQLLite3 database to keep track of short url links you create. No need to mess with MySQL.  

You can easily create and delete directories and/or files. You can upload files by selecting them, or dropping them in the upload box. All the upload is powered by plupload. I have set the script to allow files up to 500MB in size, but that can easily be changed. The uploads are all managed by Ajax, so you can monitor the upload progress. The screen is updated automatically. If an error occurs, you will get a message.

Click on the share button to bring up a screen with a Short URL link, a Direct Download link and hidden Download link. You can specify if you want the Short URL to expiry in a certain number of days, or after a certain number of downloads, or whichever comes first. The Short URL is not active until you save it. At this point the Short Url is not automatically copies to the clipboard, so you will have to copy and paste it.

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Monday, December 9, 2013

The Silent Killer: Radon

You Might Be Surprised That Radon Is The Second Leading Cause of Cancer

radon periodic tableBy Howard Walsh | Windsor Home Inspections

Radon is a colourless, tasteless and odourless gas that can seep undetected into your home and emit ionizing radiation which can cause lung cancer. Protect your family by testing your home for radon.

What Is Radon?
Radon is a radioactive gas found naturally in the environment. It is produced naturally by the breakdown of uranium in the soil, rock and water. As a gas, radon can move freely through the soil enabling it to escape to the atmosphere or seep into buildings. Since radon can't be seen, smelled, or tasted, it can get into your home undetected.

In outdoor air, radon is diluted to such low concentrations that it is not a concern. But in confined spaces like your house, radon can build up to high levels and pose a health risk. Radon levels are generally highest in basements and crawl spaces because these areas are nearest to the source and are usually poorly ventilated.

Why You Should Have Your Home Tested?
The international Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies radon as a carcinogen. Inhaling radon gas increases the risk of lung cancer, especially in cigarette smokers. Recent studies have provided strong evidence for the link between radon exposure in the home and lung cancer.


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Saturday, September 14, 2013

Copy.com Cloud Storage

Sign Up And Get 20GB Free

This week I discovered a new free file sharing called “COPY”. A lot like Dropbox but better. Particularly that you get 15G of storage for free from the start, and another 5GB when you install the app on your PC. And... another 5GB for every one of your friends you get to sign up.

Copy.com is a new cloud storage service from Barracuda Networks, a company that has a certain amount of experience in data storage and backup solutions. Copy is being marketed as a rival to the likes of SkyDrive and Dropbox, so it’s entering a crowded market.

Copy is the easiest way to store, protect and share amazing things. It keeps your computers in sync and your files available from anywhere, even on your mobile devices. With Copy, you can also easily share files with anyone publicly or privately. Copy for companies extends the cloud storage and sharing benefits into corporate environments with user and group management and added control of proprietary company data.

Access your content from any device with Copy...
Any file you save with Copy on your computer, smartphone, or tablet is automatically accessible from any device you use.

  • MacOX
  • Windows
  • Linux
  • Android
  • iOS

Sign up here : https://copy.com?r=fHYRhq

Copy further extends the opportunity for home users to feel its charisma by offering 5GB of storage space on every free subscription. Not only this, while using your free space if you refer copy to your friends and family, you get to add more GBs in your existing Storage limit.

All-in-all, Copy lets you handle your data in the easiest possible way and share with your friends and family on the fly.

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Sunday, September 8, 2013

MyStart

Applescript Login Items Handler

If you're like me and like your login items in the menu bar to be in a certain order, you may find it frustrating that you have little control over the order that your system uses to launch the apps. Using System Preferences, you can somewhat control the order of Login Items under Users and Groups. What I have found though, is the order of the icons appearing may be different than the order set if some apps take longer to load than expected. To get around this, you can use a commercial app like Startupizer 2, which is a great product with many useful features. The problem I found with this, and similar apps, is that they don't control the order of icons the system installs. I run an app called BackBlaze to backup my computer to the cloud. I like to see the icon in the menubar. The app is run as a service, and so I have no control over when the icon appears. Until now.

I did a bit of Google research and found a number of AppleScripts to launch apps. I also found a snippet to determine if an app is running, and a snippet to load and unload apps. Putting it all together, I created my own script to launch my startup items. I expanded it a bit further than just the menu bar to include apps I like to have open all the time, or at least to start. 

I now get the order I want.

 

 

Here is the script I created.

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Sunday, September 1, 2013

Track Visitor Stats - Revisited

Track Your Website Visitors... Easy!

About a year ago I wrote a simple script to track my website visitors. I did this mostly because most of the information I needed could easily be captured by my own website using php or javascript. And, there was enough "free" IP location services available that could tell me where my visitors were coming from. That script worked well, but was very basic in functionality and appearance. I recently changed my hosting company and in the process of changing over some of my websites, I decided to update the visitor tracker. It has now been renamed Imprint, and features much more functionality and improved appearance.

The script creates a polished user interface for displaying your IP visitor stats, and works with a number of IP location services available. If you don't subscribe to any IP location service, the script uses the ip2location lite databases freely available from http://lite.ip2location.com. For more information on your visitors, you can subscribe to the Maxmind GeoIP OMNI Web Service for as little as $20 for 10,000 lookups. The 10,000 lookups translates to a lot of visitors, as the script only looks up the visitor info on the first visitor and stores it for use on subsequent visits. Alternatively, you can also sign up for the IPInfoDB service freely available at http://ipinfodb.com. The script uses this service as a backup if visitor info is not located in the other databases.

So, your website looks fantastic! You've invested a huge amount of time and a little money getting it up and running! You've had a few visitors, you think. Not many people buying anything, or leaving comments. Just how many people are visiting your site? Where are they coming from? Are they new visitors, or returning visitors? What pages are they going to? What pages are they coming from? What pages are the most popular? What pages are your visitors not even bothering to look at?

That's the kind of questions you ask yourself when you have a website intended to drive traffic and sales. 

Since websites first appeared, people have analyzed what was happening with their sites. It started with simple counters on personal pages to track the number of visitors. But now, website owners are looking for more sophisticated statistics. Today, stats are the essential tool to measure and manage a business or a website successfully.

So, you want to know more about your visitors and where they are coming from, where they are going on your site, and how many times they have visited. This PHP script will provide all that information and more.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Septic Systems

What You Should Know If You Have One

By Howard Walsh | Windsor Home Inspections

It is estimated that as many as one in four homes are using a septic system. There are many different types of septic systems ranging from the conventional, in-ground, gravity fed systems, to the more elaborate, pump discharge systems. There are also seepage pits, cesspools, holding tanks and homemade systems.

Septic SystemIn the most basic terms, the septic system usually consists of a means of separating the liquid material from the solid material, and an area where the liquid material is dispersed. The solid-liquid separation usually takes place in what is called the treatment tank. This tank is a relatively large structure, often made of concrete, but can also be plastic or steel. A typical tank for a home will hold 1000 - 1500 gallons. Waste material enters the tank through the drainage pipe from the home. The solids are broken down and fall to the bottom of the tank and form a sludge layer. Lighter materials float to the top and form the scum layer. The remaining liquid material fills the space in between the sludge and scum layers. As the tank fills, this liquid layer is drained off to the drainage field (also known as an leech field, or absorption field).

On average, septic systems have an estimated life span of about 20 to 30 years. A properly constructed and maintained system may last longer, but a system that is not maintained can easily fail in less than 2 years. Regular maintenance protects your investment, the health of your family, and the environment. Replacing a failed septic system can cost thousands of dollars compared to the few hundred dollars that it costs to have the system regularly inspected and pumped out.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Track Visitor Stats

Know More About Your Website Visitors

Your website looks fantastic! You've invested a huge amount of time and a little money getting it up and running! You've had a few visitors, you think. Not many people buying anything, or leaving comments. Just how many people are visiting your site? Where are they coming from? Are they new visitors, or returning visitors? What pages are they going to? What pages are they coming from? What pages are the most popular? What pages are your visitors not even bothering to look at?

That's the kind of questions you ask yourself when you have a website intended to drive traffic and sales. I looked at a few free and paid services out there that are capable of providing this kind of information, and all-in-all, they are pretty good. I also knew if I researched hard enough I could write a script to provide most, if not all, of the information I could get from a paid service.

Since websites first appeared, people have analyzed what was happening with their sites. It started with simple counters on personal pages to track the number of visitors. But now, website owners are looking for more sophisticated statistics. Today, stats are the essential tool to measure and manage a business or a website successfully.

So, you want to know where your visitors are coming from, where they are going on your site, and how many times they have visited. This PHP script will provide all that information and more.

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