Settlement in Deadly House Fire Lawsuit Over CSST in Lubbock

Share

LUBBOCK, TX — The lawsuit following a deadly Lubbock house fire will end in a settlement, and not a trial, EverythingLubbock.com has learned.

People familiar with the case said both sides have agreed to settle the lawsuit against the makers of CSST which is a corrugated stainless steel tubing used for natural gas lines inside new homes. A Lubbock family said in court records that CSST is to blame for the death of a friend in their home… Read More

Share

Brennen Teel Foundation Acknowledges TREC’s Amendment To Home Inspection Report Effective September 1, 2015

Share

5CE336ED-B9B3-4759-B446-6AD2AE8D2CBF[2]

New Property Inspection Report Form (REI 7–5)

Brennen Teel Foundation Acknowledges TREC’s Amendment To Home Inspection Report Effective September 1, 2015

ROCKWALL, Texas, Sept. 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — The Brennen Teel Foundation, alongside home inspectors and their representatives testified in numerous TREC (Texas Real Estate Commission) and Inspector Advisory meetings pleading for awareness of CSST (corrugated stainless steel tubing) to the unknowing 10,000,000 homeowners throughout the United States.

TREC (Texas Real Estate Commission) exists to safeguard the public interest and protect consumers of real estate services. In accord with state and federal laws the agency oversees real estate brokerage, appraisal, inspection, home warranty, right-of-way services and timeshare interest providers. Through education, licensing and regulation, the agency ensures the availability of qualified and ethical service providers, thereby facilitating economic growth and opportunity across Texas.

Effective September 1st, The Commission adopted a new Property Inspection Report Form (REI 7–5) at its May meeting. Language was added to the “Consumer Notice Concerning Hazards or Deficiencies” section of the form to notify consumers about potential hazards regarding lack of bonding on gas piping, including corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST). Inspectors have been able to use this new form on a voluntary basis since its adoption; however inspectors are required to use the form for all inspections conducted on or after September 1, 2015. This notice is found in the Property Inspection Report on page 2 of the preamble andTREC Form No. OP-I.

Ken and Becky Teel, the parents of Brennen Chase Teel, created the foundation in Brennen’s name to raise awareness and tackle safety issues presented by the presence of CSST in homes. Brennen was killed on August 24, 2012 as a result of a Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing (CSST) failure in a home where the installation was “proper” according to the product manufacturer. The failure was lightning induced. Similar failures are occurring all over the United States threatening lives and homes.

Founders of the Brennen Teel Foundation Ken and Becky Teel: “We feel the focus of this notice is misplaced on bonding or lack of bonding vs. CSST. This notification is misleading the homeowner into believing their home is safe with bonding. The home Brennen was visiting was bonded per the manufacturers specification and bonding did not work. However, the mention of CSST in the inspection report is a step forward in our mission to educate and build awareness of CSST dangers. Now, we will focus on another entity.”

Media Contact for Brennen Teel Foundation:
Lavera Vincent
info@BTFGasLineSafety.org
210.363.5848

 

SOURCE Brennen Teel Foundation

RELATED LINKS
http://www.btfgaslinesafety.org

 

 

Share

Electrical System Hazards

Share

 

P A N E L     M E T E R S

 

Visual Indication, Lead Lag Operation, Totalization, and more.

 

Plano

Experts say electrical panels in Dallas-area homes may be a fire waiting to happen

By CHRISTINA ROSALES / The Dallas Morning News crosales@dallasnews.com

Published: 23 August 2010 10:56 AM

Updated: 26 November 2010 02:27 PM

Karen and Floyd Clardy remember hearing a giant pop from the garage. The lights in their Lake Highlands home went out, and suddenly there were flames. LOUIS DeLUCA/DMN Lake Highlands homeowner Todd Holmes says he’s replacing his home’s Federal Pacific Stab-Lok panel “to be on the safe side.”

They watched as fire spread from the garage to the attic and two rooms in the house, causing $160,000 worth of structural damage. “The breaker box was shooting flames, and there were sparks,” Karen Clardy said.

Dallas Fire-Rescue determined that the fire in March started in the electrical panel in the garage. The Clardys’ home was equipped with a Federal Pacific Stab-Lok, a type of circuit breaker in thousands of North Texas homes that is now widely thought by engineers, electricians and  house inspectors to be defective – and   dangerous.

Experts first began saying in 1980 that a high percentage of the circuit breakers failed to trip. After testing the devices for about two years, the Consumer Product  Safety Commission said the government lacked  sufficient data to warrant  a  recall. No warning was  ever  issued.

But in recent years, engineers studying them independently have found that the circuit breakers can overload and cause fires. Many have been replaced in the decades  since  they were manufactured, but one expert estimates they are still used in 20  million  homes    nationwide.

“They’re everywhere,” said Bob  Charvoz, chief home inspector for  the American Association  of Professional Inspectors in    Plano.

“If your house was built during the ’60s, ’70s or ’80s, it probably has one of these breakers. About 90 percent of houses we see from that tim have them.”

New York engineer Jesse Aronstein said he has been writing to the Consumer Product Safety Commission for six years, urging that a clear warning be issued.

Aronstein met with the commission most recently in February, saying that fires could be prevented if the commission would update its 1983 statement. The commission now says it is working on a way to make its stance clearer, spokesman Scott Wolfson said.

“If homeowners have been experiencing these incidents, we want them to report them to our agency,” Wolfson said. But he added, “We need to recognize that there was  no final  conclusion.”

Federal Pacific is no longer in business. Used by Fox &  Jacobs

Although the suspect breakers were used in homes constructed by many builders, Fox & Jacobs installed them exclusively in the Southwest until the mid- to late 1960s, according to a spokeswoman from Pulte Homes, which now owns the company. Fox & Jacobs homes accounted for about 80 percent of homes built in the Dallas-Fort Worth area during most of the 1970s.

No one can say how many house fires can be traced back to faults the experts see in the boxes, although fire departments and insurance inspectors say they regularly see fires start there, or start elsewhere in a home because a circuit breaker fails to do its job.

Several engineering experts who have tested the boxes under laboratory conditions have found them to be defective. Potential problems with the Federal Pacific circuit breakers are such that many Texas home inspectors regularly advise home buyers to remove them before a purchase. But not always. The Clardys’ house, built in 1978, had two previous owners. After the fire, they were surprised to learn the history of the type of circuit breaker that was  in their  house.

“We had no idea we had a problem” Floyd Clardy said. “No one ever said, ‘Replace the breaker box. This is dangerous.’ ” “If they had, we would have done it in a flash,” his wife said.

Many found in  closets

The suspect Stab-Lok circuit breakers were manufactured beginning in 1960 and used through the 1980s by Federal Pacific Electric. Most – but not all – were installed in   closets.

The standards set for breakers can be compared to those for automobile brakes.

Brakes should be able to stop a car within a set distance; Circuit breakers should interrupt the electrical current when circuits become overloaded and  overheated.  This can prevent hazards such as overheating and  shocks and  at worst a   fire.

Aronstein said his two decades of testing showed that more than 25 percent of Federal Pacific circuit breakers are defective in lab settings. The rate could  be higher in non-lab settings, engineers   say.

Denton engineer  Mark Goodson’s  consulting firm investigates fires  for  insurance companies,  including the company that  insured  the Clardys.

“I think they’re dangerous,” Goodson said. “They don’t timely trip. I’ve seen fires caused by these breakers. I’ve seen wires overheat where a Federal Pacific breaker did not trip. If left unchecked the wires can combust and spread to cardboard, paper, clothing.”

For more than 100 years, standards for circuit breakers has been unofficially set by Underwriters Laboratories, a nonprofit groups that tests appliances and  sets standards used by the federal Consumer Product  Safety   Commission.

UL electrical engineer John Drengenberg said companies can sell products that don’t have the UL mark, but building inspectors will not pass a new home if something like a circuit breaker doesn’t bear the seal.

The Federal Pacific circuit breakers carried the UL seal, but there have long been questions about whether some or all were properly certified

A Federal Pacific engineer who resigned in 1978 later wrote the company president with his claim that internal testing found certain breakers defective.

“We found that they would only perform for approximately 1,200 operations of 3,000 required by Underwriters,” he wrote, according to documents that were part of several lawsuits related to the faulty breakers. “At this point, the contacts would become badly burned and excessive temperatures  would occur.”

The engineer, J.F. Meacham, cited several other cases where circuit breakers were “cheated” through the Underwriters Laboratories approval process, and he alleged that UL inspectors were paid to “turn their heads,” the document says.

The engineer wrote that the cheating would hurt the company, but no mention was made of possible safety consequences.

“I think you know me well enough to know that I could not turn my back or take part in what I have described in this letter, so I left,” he wrote.

Drengenberg said UL couldn’t comment on the 32-year-old allegations because records do not extend that far back. Call for notification

If an inspector has heard of the potential hazards of a Federal Pacific circuit breaker, it’s through experience, Charvoz said, not through the federal government.

“There’s a good chance that things will fail later,” even if they’ve worked properly for decades, said Charvoz. “There are electricians out there who say, ‘Don’t change them, it’s OK.’  That’s something that needs to be    changed.”

Dallas electricians and home inspectors almost always flag Federal Pacific breakers during inspections because they might be dangerous, home inspector Rudy  Ringel said.

Whether people decide to replace the breakers is an issue for the home buyer and seller to determine; it’s not mandatory.

Todd Holmes, a father of two, was remodeling his bathroom when the contractor redoing his electrical system suggested he replace his Federal  Pacific  electrical box, including the breaker.

“It’s going to be $2,000 or so, but we’re getting it changed to be on the safe side,” Holmes said. “It’s the smartest thing to do.” IS YOUR CIRCUIT BREAKER A  FEDERAL  PACIFIC STAB-LOK?

How  can you tell if your home has a  Federal  Pacific Stab-Lok  circuit  breaker?

The faulty breakers would be inside a box in a wall of your home, probably in a closet or in the garage. Inside the panel door would be a label that says “Federal Pacific” or the letters “FPE.” The flaws in the breaker are not visually apparent.

What should you do about  it?

Experts say any Federal Pacific Stab-Lok breaker should be replaced. Breakers that have a white dot on the handle were manufactured after a redesign by Federal Pacific. Testing shows they are statistically less likely to fail, but experts still recommend replacement.

How  much will  this cost?

About $2,000. Replacement should be made only by a qualified electrician. SOURCE: Dallas  Morning  News research

Share

Extension Cord Dangers

Share

Extension Cord Dangers 

Extension Cord Dangers
Extension Cord Dangers

Fact: About 4,000 extension cord-related injuries are treated in hospitals each year, about 50 of which result in death.

Fact: Half of the reported injuries are lacerations, contusions, sprains, etc., from people tripping over extension cords.

Fact: More than 3,300 home fires are caused yearly from improper extension cord use.

These statistics, gathered by Electrical Safety Foundation International, point to another fact that many folks don’t know or don’t abide by: Extension cords are not meant to be a replacement for permanent wiring.

“The rule of thumb is that extension cords are for temporary use,” said Chris Dodson, safety coordinator at EPB. “If you use them in a permanent situation, then you are asking for trouble. Adding more outlets is a lot less expensive and easier than dealing with a house fire.”

Using extension cords for a few weeks at a time, such as around the holidays, is fine, and precisely what they are intended for. But even still, certain rules should be followed.

For example, cords labeled “indoors” should only be used indoors—not on covered porches, under decks or anywhere else outdoors. “They are not designed to keep the rain out, and the insulation value of indoor extension cords is less than outdoor extensions, which are designed for more rugged use,” Dodson said.

Another common myth associated with extension cords is that they can be strung together endlessly without causing issues. Although doing this isn’t guaranteed to be problematic, it can be.

“It depends on the electrical current load of the item that is plugged into the strung-together cords,” Dodson said. “A longer cord means more voltage drop or voltage loss, which could result in damage to the item that is plugged in and/or create a fire hazard.”

And both extension and basic electrical cords need to be monitored often for fraying and other damage. Cords that are not properly maintained could result in at best a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker, or at worst a fire or electrocution. Cords that have obvious fraying or feel like they have insulation missing need to be repaired or replaced before being used.

Residents should also periodically touch cords. “If the cord gets warm or hot to the touch, you may have the wrong size cord or there may be a problem with the wiring in the cord,” Dodson said. “If the cord should handle the load of the item that is plugged in and it becomes hot, there is a problem.”

Placement of cords is also important. Be it an electrical cord or an extension cord, it doesn’t need to run under carpets or rugs, because then the resident is unaware of damage that may occur. If you are concerned about people tripping over the cord, there are products on the market (that aren’t rugs!) that you can put over cords to protect them in high-traffic areas.

“If your cord will be in an area where any kind of foot traffic will be, it needs to be protected,” Dodson said. “Just the insulation of the cord is not enough by itself.”

Overloaded power strips and outlets can also be home hazards. Adding outlet extenders that change your two-socket outlet into one that can house six plugs can be fine, but you need to be cognizant of the number of amps plugged into that converter. Adding outlets doesn’t change how many amps the outlet can handle. Likewise, plugging one power strip into another power strip to give yourself more plugs can cause overloaded circuits—plus, it’s anOccupational Safety and Health Administration violation to do so. The amperage rating on power strips is also something to take into consideration. If you’re going to plug numerous items that use lots of amps into it, you may be overloading it. Additionally, you should not connect power strips to extension cords.

Finally, all your electrical cords, power strips and outlets need to be UL– or ETL-approved. If there is no stamp or sticker on an electrical device you are thinking about buying that indicates they are, choose another product.

John Pless is the public relations coordinator at EPB.

Share

Attached Garage Fire Containment

Share

Attached Garage Fire Containment

by Nick Gromicko and Kenton Shepard

An attached garage is a garage that is physically attached to a house. Fires that begin in attached garages are more likely to spread to living areas than fires that originate in detached garages. For this reason, combined with the multitude of flammable materials commonly found in garages, attached garages should be adequately sealed from living areas. A properly sealed attached garage will ideally restrict the potential spread of fire long enough to allow the occupants time to escape the home or building. Read more…
Share

Welcome

Share

Welcome to the Texas Consumer News website. We are pleased that you have taken the time to review this important consumer information.  This website is presented to help homebuyers protect themselves in real estate sales transaction and to inform you about Home Inspectors.

Share