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Robert Lamoureux: Loop or not to loop, that’s the question

Your Home Improvements

Posted: September 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: September 17, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

Hi Robert,
We are on the verge of needing to get our house repiped. We’ve got galvanized pipe now, and we are thinking of changing it out to copper. We were offered some kind of plastic pipes, but not knowing a lot about it, I feel more comfortable with copper. We have a fairly large home, and it takes a while for the hot water to get to the back of the house. The plumber mentioned a “loop pump.” What are your thoughts on this? Thank you,
Grant M.

Hi Grant,
It depends on the distance, but personally, I don’t need to have hot water instantly. The problem I see with loop pumps is, you’ve got the maintenance of the pump. If you let it run constantly, it will wear out prematurely, because the water is always flowing and that constant flow will eat at the copper. It’s microscopic, but there is internal damage being done to that loop line.

I had a loop pump in my house, and after a couple of years I started to experience leaks on the line because of the water constantly running. I elected to disconnect mine, but it’s a matter of preference.

I would suggest that if you do install one, to put it on a timer so it cycles 30 minutes before you wake up in the morning and then again in the evening for showering according to your schedule. 

In a single family home, unless it’s at least 10,000 sq. ft., I don’t see it as a necessity. A loop line is commonplace in multifamily buildings, but not on a residential level. 

Hi Robert,
I have a pool with a fill valve that’s located in the back of the property. Every time it gets really hot, I forget to fill the pool and to make a long story short, I just burned out another pool motor. Is there something out there that will fill my pool automatically? Thank you,
J.D.

Hi J.D,
You can put in an anti-syphon valve, which is the same type used for irrigation systems. It is made specifically for swimming pools, but most of your major pool suppliers do not carry it. Try searching online for “battery-operated anti-syphon valve.” 

You could also try an irrigation supply house. It costs about $125 and runs off of a 9-volt battery. 

It will have an option of running every day — or every other day. Other settings are based on your pool size — small, medium or large.

The settings change with the seasons because of higher evaporation during summer months — especially if you have a water feature effect. You will have much more evaporation, for example, if you have water flowing over a dam wall. 

The settings will take some time to fine tune to the size of your pool, time of year, and amount of water the valve dispenses. I have had one of these installed on my pool for about the last eight years and it saves the trouble of having to go out and constantly check and re-fill the water levels by hand.

Hello Robert:
In 2005, I had my kitchen completely remodeled. It was basically gutted and completely rebuilt. All of the appliances were moved. All work was permitted and signed off by the building inspectors.

Lately, the electrical circuit to the refrigerator has failed. On further inspection, I found the refrigerator and electrical outlets in the kitchen are both wired to the same circuit, with a 20-amp GFI breaker, in the electrical panel. The electrical outlets are under the cabinets and not deep enough to accept a GFI receptacle. 

When the circuit fails, the breaker will not reset for about one hour. 

I called out an electrician, and he told me the wiring was not up to code and wanted an exorbitant amount of money to fix the problem. 

I thought he was just looking for work and dismissed him. I called a second electrician and he said he was not sure why the wiring was configured the way it was.

He was reluctant to touch the work of the prior contractor because he did not want to accept liability for the work that was done.

I’ve contacted Public Works and requested an inspector to look at the wiring and was told they would not come out as the work was already approved when the building permit was signed off.

I’ve talked with a building inspector on the phone and I don’t think he understood the issue.

So basically, can the refrigerator and electrical outlets be wired together on one 20 amp GFI breaker? 

Is this up to code?

I read your article every week and find it very informative. Thank you,

Mike C.

Hi Mike,
Based on the information I have, you can only put in a 20-amp breaker. You can’t over rate that line.

The GFI is obviously overheating because it is tripping, but apparently, it worked fine for the last six years. It could be, and I’ve seen this before, you’ve got a bad GFI. I would replace that before rewiring, which has already been permitted and inspected. 

If that doesn’t work, there still has to be a GFI receptacle there because it’s a wet location. Any outlet near the kitchen sink has to be GFI’d. 

The refrigerator does not need to be on a GFI, so that was mistake No. 1. It’s probably overloading the circuit.

The only way to get around it is to run a new dedicated circuit into the kitchen to take the load off of the GFI. This will require opening drywall, so it won’t be cheap. 

There are many questionable contractors so it’s important you always check out your contractor out the California State License Board to make sure they are licensed and insured, etc. Also, it’s best to do a little homework or get a referral. 
Individuals will represent themselves as contractors, but they’re really just handymen or women.

I’m not putting those individuals down, but there’s a reason they don’t have a license. Many times, it’s because they can’t meet the qualifications.

Everyone who sends in a question answered in this column will be given a full-color, limited edition The Signal/Your Home Improvements T-shirt. The shirt is available for pick up at IMS Construction in Valencia.

Robert Lamoureux has 25 years experience as a general contractor, with separate licenses in electrical and plumbing contacting. He owns IMS Construction Inc. in Valencia. His opinions are his own, and not necessarily those of The Signal. Opinions expressed in this column are not meant to replace the recommendations of a qualified contractor, after that contractor has made a thorough visual inspection. Send your questions to Robert@IMSConstruction.com.

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