While in downtown Washington DC, inspecting a 100 year old row house (we would call them townhouses!), I noticed something interesting between the house we were inspecting and the one next door.
Both houses had upgraded electrical service conductors. I took a minute to explain this to my client. Somewhere I even saw an action shot of my explanation! Um, an excellent photo! OK, maybe not that excellent, but I digress.
The house on the right had a conductor that was so old the insulation had completely disintegrated with time. Guessing, I would date it to the 50's.
My client's house had a newer conductor, which I dated to the late 70's or early 80's.
The meter boxes are quite different in age as well.
But each replaced a service that was previously there.
Interestingly, the older service on the right was probably the first to upgrade to "modern" stuff, way out of date by our standards today.
The service line into that house looks to be 125amps and may even connect to an old fuse box. Even if it connects to a circuit breaker box the system is still very old - but state of the art at that time!
A service amperage of only 125amps is very minimal service for modern usage, even with gas appliances in the house.
My client's house had been upgraded more recently, to 150amps of service and a circuit breaker box. Again, this upgrade was state of the art at that time. But this house had been purchased and completely remodeled in recent months. And the electrical in the house was supposedly done with a permit, although I saw no evidence of a final city inspection.
Even 150amps is minimal service in my opinion. I wonder why the contractor did not recommend upgrading the service, and the panel box, to a more modern, state of the art at this time, 200amp system? I suggested on the report that this service was minimal, again given modern usage.
Overall my biggest concerns with this house were electrical. For instance, the lighting "main" breaker, 100amps by itself, turned the furnace on and off. And not all the lights! Did a city inspector look at this? Or approve it? Ummmm... There were other such things as this, which, I noticed, my client's Realtor, Pat Kennedy, called "funky!" That's not a bad word!
My recommendation: when houses are remodeled, look to see if an inspection permit was pulled and if it had a final approval by the local jurisdictional authority. Typically that approval appears as an orange sticker, usually left on the inside of the door of the panel box. If you do not see one, you may want to have your own electrician have a look prior to making a final decision on the house.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560