Electrical Terminology: Volts, Ohms, Amps, and Watts

Most of the common electrical terms get their names from the people who helped develop the concepts. Let’s look at what some of the common electrical terms mean.


Alessandro Volta was an Italian physicist and a pioneer of electricity and power. He is credited as the inventor of the electrical battery.  The scientific unit of electrical potential is named in his honor. Volts, or voltage, is a measure of the force in an electrical system.  The average house has 240 volts of electricity available to it.  In homes, we can split the 240 volts into separate branches with 120 volts of power supplying most outlets, or keep it together with 240 volts of potential at some outlets.  Standard plugs and outlets are fit to run items on 120 volts.  Special plugs are used when appliances or equipment require a higher voltage to operate.

The American Lawn

The average size of an American home is on the rise.  According to census data, the average new home is around 2500 square feet, which is roughly 50% more area than the average 1970’s era home.  Houses of today often have larger rooms than houses of the past. They also typically have an extra bedroom and bathroom.

This expansion has come at a cost: The American lawn.

The first diagram below shows what the average house looked like in 1978, when it measured 1,650 square feet and sat on 0.22 acres. The second shows its counterpart from 2015. As homes have grown larger, the lots they’re built on have actually gotten smaller—average area is down 13 percent since 1978, to 0.19 acres. That might not seem like a lot, but after adjusting for houses’ bigger footprints, it appears the median yard has shrunk by more than 26 percent, and now stands at just 0.14 acres, a substantial reduction.


Ask the Home Inspector: Peeling Bathroom Paint

This blog is dedicated to a lovely friend (who shall remain nameless, unless she chooses to reveal herself), and written at her request.  Last night we attended a wonderful farm to table dinner event in High Point. It was a great gathering in a group setting.  People often ask us home related questions, and last night was no exception.  Between meal courses, our fellow diner asked: “Can you explain why the paint is already peeling in our bathroom?  Our house isn’t even old!”


Happy 4th of July


“Those who won our independence believed liberty to be the secret of happiness and courage to be the secret of liberty.” – – Louis D. Brandeis


Under Pressure

You’re having a shower and somebody flushes the toilet.  Suddenly, you don’t have water at the shower any more. Or maybe you run out of cold water when the toilet flushes and get scalded. Sometimes you run out of hot water in this scenario. In any case, none of these options makes you happy. Chances are, you have a water supply problem.

The water supply may be less than ideal for a number of reasons. These reasons may apply to the service piping that brings the water from the city main to the house (or from the well, lake, or river to the house) and to the distribution piping within the house.  Let’s look at some of the causes.

Should you buy a house that was a flip?

These days, a large portion of single-family homes are being flipped, that is, the homes are bought, renovated, and resold quickly.   In recent years, it has become harder for flippers to finance these investment properties, and properties are often bought with cash or hard money loans.  However, many markets are in need of housing inventory and so those that can amass the funds to flip a property can make money in the process.


Prospective homebuyers should always have an eye out unprofessional looking renovation work and defect cover-ups.  However, when the entire property has been flipped, it may be harder to tell where the investor cut corners while prepping the home for sale.  “A lot of these guys who buy these homes to remodel and flip them do a good job,” said Bill Jacques, president of the American Society of Home Inspectors. But, “there’s always going to be the person to put lipstick on a pig and sell it. They try to honey up these houses and paint them, put some new light fixtures in and make people think they’re in new and good shape.”