Guards and Guy Wires

Did you know that the guy wires used to hold utility poles in place are supposed to be guarded? Those colored plastic covers that crack, break, and otherwise look terrible are required by code.  Specifically, the guy wire guards are required by the National Electrical Safety code (not to be confused with the National Electric Code).  It seems that someone years ago recognized that people would be walking around or working in close proximity to the guy wires.  Since contact with guy wires can cause severe injury, it was decided that guard covers would be required.  The surfaces of the steel wire strands are not intentionally smooth.  Instead, surface irregularities with sharp edges can occur during the wire drawing process.  If contacted, these surfaces can cause deep cuts.  Please note that although utility poles are generally owned by the electric companies, any other company that uses the poles does so by agreement with the owner.  This means that if cable or telephone companies have to use a pole, those companies are responsible for adding guy wires and the guards to secure the pole and protect the public.  If someone is injured on an unguarded guy wire, the company that owns the guy wire can be liable.

“Leave the Friggin Thing Alone!”

It still amazes me that whenever a fire occurs in a machine, like a car or a tractor, somebody who is NOT authorized, has to mess with it. There are still people out there that don’t realize that when they disassemble something they are tampering with evidence.  Even if the case has nothing to do with anything criminal, there is the possibility that a product defect or faulty workmanship might have been responsible for the fire.  But, if the machine (evidence) is disassembled, then evidence is compromised if not destroyed outright.  Disassembly and subsequent testing or examination cannot occur without all interested parties being placed on notice.  Once notified, all parties must be given the chance to participate in formulating a protocol for the disassembly, testing and examination.  After the protocol is formulated, the parties must agree on when and who will perform all necessary functions.  In short, all parties must have access to the same information at the same time.  If not, the potential for spoliation of evidence claims can become an avenue for additional lawsuits or defense, depending on your point of view.  Note that many property insurance policies have a subrogation clause which requires that the policyholder do everything it can to protect their carrier’s right which includes protecting evidence.

Soot Damage From Gas Logs

Although it has been several years since we’ve seen sooting damage from a set of gas logs, it still occurs. The main problem is that soot is created when a fuel such as natural gas or propane is burned incompletely.  That is, there is a lack of air mixed with the gas and as a result, carbon is not completely burned.  The excess carbon then appears as soot on solid surfaces.  Appliances, like gas logs units, that advertise the appearance of a realistic wood fire tend to burn with a yellow flame.  The yellow flame is an indication that the fuel is not burned completely.  Some older readers might remember when gas appliances, including log sets, were made to burn with a blue flame.  A blue flame indicated that your appliance was operating as efficiently as possible.  When the flame turned yellow, this was owner’s cue to have the appliance checked.  This is no longer true and hasn’t been true for at least 30 years.  As a result, homeowners don’t have any warning as to when their appliances need attention.  Many of the log sets made today come equipped with what is known as an oxygen depletion sensor.  The device is supposed to shut the log set off if the oxygen in the space drops to a point below what is required to operate the set.  In reality, soot can be produced before the oxygen level drops to an unacceptable level.  This is because the sensor does not sense oxygen, it senses heat from the pilot.  As long as the pilot is producing a flame and the sensor is detecting the heat, the main gas valve will remain open.

Scholarship Award Winners

2015 Scholarship Award Winners

No Applicants

2014 Scholarship Award Winners

Autumn Douthitt

Chemical Engineering

Tennessee Technological University


Caitlin Richey

Civil Engineering

Tennessee Technological University

Ceiling Fan Recall

A recall for Casablanca Ceiling fans has been discovered for a simple yet dangerous fault.  30,000 fans have been recalled because the fan motor and blades can separate from the adapter when it is used in updraft mode.  This won’t come as a surprise to many but, the fans were manufactured in China.  This is yet another example of the kind of poor manufacturing process that results in the erosion of public confidence.  How does something like the separation of the fan motor from its adapter escape scrutiny from quality control (assuming they have a quality control department) so as to put the consumer in danger?  Adding insult to injury, the recall affects 12 fan styles and 43 different models of Casablanca ceiling fans that were manufactured between 2013 and 2014.  The recalled styles are: Aris, Bel Air, Bullet, Caneel Bay, Heritage, Isotope, Riello, Stealth, Tecera, Trident, Whitman, and Zudio.  The recalled models are: 59018, 59019, 59020, 59021, 59022, 59023, 59057, 59059, 59060, 59061, 59062, 59064, 59065, 59068, 69069, 59070, 59076, 59077, 59078, 59081, 59082, 59083, 59090, 59091, 59092, 59093, 59094, 59105, 59106, 59107, 59109, 59110, 59111, 59113, 59114, 59119, 59121, 59123, 59124, 59164, 59165, 59527, 59528.  According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there have been eight reports of falling fan motors and fan blades with one report of a minor injury and one report of minor property damage.  Consumers should stop using the fans and contact Casablanca for a free in-home and repair.  Casablanca can be contacted by calling 1-855-800-3789.  Consumers should also be aware that the recalled models are associated with certain date codes.  The date code can be found on the top of the motor housing near the center where the vertical support rod attaches to the motor housing.  The date code is a four digit code with the last two digits being a “13” or “14”.  The recall specifically applies to those fans manufactured in 2013 or 2014 and with a catalog number of “A01”.  For Isotope models 59018, 59019,, 59020, 59021, 59022, and 59023, the canopy ring has to be removed in order to identify the product. These particular products also have a green dot that is part of the identification of the recalled units.

After having said all of the above,  the procedure that a consumer has to go through is not only time-consuming and troublesome but, can be frustrating.  Keep in mind that because the manufacturer is a Chinese company, holding the company responsible might be very difficult. The consumer has to depend on the American distributor, in this case, Casablanca, to make good on the inspections and repairs.  For many, this means relying on Casablanca’s representative to be truthful and honest about their findings.  If things don’t go as expected, the consumer could end up with a useless fan.  Unless there is a substantial amount of damage or injury involved, filing a lawsuit is usually not a practical option.  Consumers can file complaints with the CPSC and Better Business Bureau which could affect the company’s business reputation but, usually not enough to cause any significant change.  Another way to hit a manufacturer where it counts is to post unfavorable reviews on social media.  Enough of a following can affect sales, negatively!  The last recourse is to replace the fan at the consumer’s expense, chalk the whole thing up to a bad experience and go on with life.



Craigslist and Recalled Products

ABC News has reported that Craigslist is allowing users to post ads in an attempt to sell recalled products. It is against the law to knowingly sell recalled items.  Please be careful when purchasing any manufactured item, whether from Craigslist, Ebay, or any other forum where products are offered on an “as is” condition.  Before you buy do a little homework; it might save you a lot of pain in the future.  Get the name of the manufacturer, model and serial numbers.  Go to the manufacturer’s website and check for a recall on the item.  If you can’t find the item, check the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website; to see if they have any recalls for the product.  By law, manufacturers are required to report defects to the CPSC as soon as they learn about a problem.  If you find a recalled product – STAY AWAY FROM IT!  Remember, products are recalled because there is the possibility of personal injury or property damage or both.  In either case, working through a serious injury or property damage can be expensive and time consuming.

What’s Going on With Carrier and Goodman?


For a number of years, the Carrier Corporation has been manufacturing air conditioning equipment and selling their products all over the world.  Virtually everyone in the HVAC industry and a large part of the consuming public is familiar with the Carrier name.  To a lesser extent, the Goodman Company has also been manufacturing air conditioning equipment.  Although the Goodman Company is not was well known as Carrier, the two companies manufacture some of the same products.  Case in point: packaged terminal air conditioning units or PTACs as they are more commonly known.  These are units that are commonly found in motel rooms.  Recently, both companies recalled some of their PTAC units, Carrier on December 22, 2015 and Goodman on February 17, 2016.  But, the most troubling commonality is that the recalls are for the same problem.  That is, both companies recalled their products because their PTACS were equipped with line cords that could overheat and pose a burn hazard to consumers.  The only reason that line cords overheat is because they are sized too small for the unit’s load; i.e. the unit is drawing more current than the line cord can handle.  How does that happen?  This problem is not something that has been recently discovered.  It is not something that belongs to new technology innovations.  Any company that has been manufacturing an electrical device for any length of time has to know full well what the consequences are of undersized wiring for a specific load.  So, again how do companies like Carrier and Goodman get it wrong?  If the problem can’t be in the lack of knowledge, it has to be in the manufacturing process.  Maybe it’s time for some worker retraining.


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