What I'm Seeing Now

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Please, Box It Up For Me

For a few months the lights on our thirteen-year-old wall oven would flicker each time the oven was used.  I didn't know what it meant, but suspected an electrical problem.  Was it the unit, the computer board, connections? 

Then during a baking session one of the elements exploded in sparks in the upper oven!  I looked into it and I could replace the element for around $50.  The lower oven still worked, but the same flickering was occurring.

We have been in this house thirteen years.  We built it new. 

Disgustedly I have had to replace every single appliance in the kitchen!  And we "upgraded" to the "gourmet kitchen" with "top grade" appliances.  Yeah, right.

But this flickering concerned me to the point that I wondered if there might be an electrical problem causing this to happen.  And, further, would replacing the element be enough to solve the problem?

So I bit the bullet and on Memorial Day we took advantage of the sales and purchased a new double oven.  It is the same model we had before, just newer, and I did that because of the tight measurements in the cabinet.  Other ovens were 1/2" different here or there and I did NOT want to alter the cabinet opening!

The new one was installed the other day.  I have been running the oven at night to get rid of the new-oven smell and not heat up the house.

The installer calls me.  "Mr. Markamavinikinicatch?  (you see, my three-syllable name - mar-KAN'-ik - is very difficult for many to pronounce)  I may have found the problem with your old oven."

"Really, what was it?"

"The service cable from the panel box was wired directly into the back of the oven! They never used the junction box in the cabinet!"

"You mean they didn't use the manufacturer's cable attached to the oven?  Is there enough slack in the service cable to wire it properly this time?"  (Suddenly I'm thinking we will need an electrician to run a new cable from the panel box to the oven because there isn't enough slack there to get up to the box)

"Yes, there's enough to reach the box."

"So, let me get this straight.  The electrician wired the cable properly and left enough slack to do the job right, but the builder's installer just jammed it into the oven, am I right?"

"You got it.  You do know that is a fire hazard, don't you?"

"Yes, I do.  Please, box it up for me."  And he installed it right.  Here I have lived in this house for over 13 years not knowing that the junction box I have been looking at in the back of my cabinet was never used for the oven wiring!  And that we have been living with a fire hazard!  As many times on home inspections I have identified that in other people's houses, I DIDN'T KNOW I WAS LIVING WITH IT!

"Another thing.  I did some research and could not find where we need to replace the circuit breaker with this new unit.  Is that correct?"  (Some manufacturer's want circuit breakers replaced with the installation of their appliance in order to maintain the warranty)

"Nope, the old breaker is fine with this oven.  Most people don't know to check for that."

"Well, I do, so wire it right!  I will check it when I get home."

I got home and checked the wiring.  It was well done.

And, after running both ovens for 30 minutes I checked the box and the circuit breaker for heat.

None.  The box, seen on the left with its reflection on the cabinet floor, is reflecting some heat from the cabinet interior and the hottest point is only 83F.  The breaker, seen on the right, is not warm at all.

So I am satisfied.

Does the oven work okay?  The first test was banana nut bread.  It was left to cool on the counter.  When it reached 105F, somebody, unknown to us all, swiped a slice on the left just before this thermal image was taken.  I really don't know who it was...    ;>)    Really.  Maybe it was a ghost!

My recommendation:  You don't know what you don't know!  I confess to having assumed the oven was wired correctly as the junction box was clearly visible in the cabinet above.  I never had looked inside the box!  Well, we all know what happens when we ASSume...

Quick!  Check your wall ovens now!

 

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560

www.jaymarinspect.com


Comment balloon 52 commentsJay Markanich • June 14 2011 07:21AM

Comments

Jay, now everyone that has a wall oven will be pulling them out of the walls! That is very scary though, seriously. And could have been worse than just buying new ovens....

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 7 years ago

This is so funny Jay.  You know many of us take time and care when it comes to our job but when it comes to our own house we are often not as careful.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 7 years ago

Really points out the necessity of hiring a knowledgeable Home Inspector.  Who would have thought this would be an issue when everything was right there -- fully available to the installer.  Wow!

Posted by Tish Lloyd, Broker - Wilmington NC and Surrounding Beaches (BlueCoast Realty Corporation) over 7 years ago

It really is Andrea.  I was upset the rest of the day!  But, here we all are!  Don't pull out the oven, just check the junction box!

Debbie - on the day I did the "inspection" of my house, I had other inspections to do!  Actually I had been looking at it all along, but had not checked inside of ANY junction box.  How many people do?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Is like a dentist getting a cavity!

Posted by Fernando Herboso - Broker for Maxus Realty Group, 301-246-0001 Serving Maryland, DC and Northern VA (Maxus Realty Group - Broker 301-246-0001) over 7 years ago

It would not have occurred to me that someone would do that Tish, but, like I said above, here we are!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Mr. Jay yooosirr.  One of those places in a home that is nearly impossible to get to without removing a major appliance to check.  Makes your wonder if everyone else in the neighborhood who had the super delux upgraded kitchen has the same problem.  Time to alert the neighbors?

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) over 7 years ago

Geniuses...they are everywhere!!!!

Posted by Ben Benita, Speaker, Author, Game Changer, Coach (Ben Benita) over 7 years ago

I smelled that banana nut bread from my house. It was tasty, Jay...

Great post, buddy.

Posted by Jim Gilbert, The Gold Homes Team (Keller Williams Fairfax Gateway) over 7 years ago

It is HARD when I have to tell homeowners of NEW construction that just because they have had a city or county building inspection, it does NOT mean that there will not be repair and/or maintenance issues....condensate lines * faulty/cheap kitchen faucets (this is so common it HURT$!)...knowing WHO TO CALL is the KEY!

Posted by Wallace S. Gibson, CPM, LandlordWhisperer (Gibson Management Group, Ltd.) over 7 years ago

Jay, although I've never had a wall oven I found this very interesting. Thanks Jay.

Posted by Bob "RealMan" Timm, Bob Timm, Project Coordinator for Tivoli Homes (Tivoli Custom Homes) over 7 years ago

Something like that Fernando!

Cindy - I could be the neighborhood Henny Penny!  Actually this did happen to my neighbor across the street, but a couple of years ago and I taught him how to replace his element!  Now I better go back over there!

Ben - it really made me upset.  But, I often say cynically to myself, that's where we are today!

Jim and Deanna - come on over guys!  There's a half a loaf left.  I am doing another funny post on this nut bread later...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Wallace - now I'm going to have to change my new construction inspections to look inside boxes!

But Bob, you have junction boxes all over your house!  Run for the hills!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

This is just one reason why buyers of new construction need home inspections too.  Its impossible to catch everything, but the more potential issues that can be identified, the better.  I know what you mean about the wall oven size.  I could only find one model that would fit into my existing space when I replaced mine.

Posted by Rodney Mason, FHA 203(k) & HomeStyle Renovation-AL,FL,GA, SC, TN (On Q Financial) over 7 years ago

I have done new home inspections for 15 years, Rodney, both the pre-drywall and final.  I highly recommend them and they often reveal uncanny stuff!  And as to the cabinet, I simply didn't want to deal with all the measurements and research!  And I didn't know the true measurements of the cabinet opening.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

You and your family are very lucky.  I wouldn't even know how to begin looking fro if these things are connected properly.  That is such a red flag for us all to put at top of thinking.  By the way, share the banana bread.......

Posted by Cindy Edwards, CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677 (RE/MAX Checkmate) over 7 years ago

You can have a piece right now Cindy!  'Mon over!  We were lucky, and now I guess I have to be the Henny Penny in the neighborhood!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Maybe the same ghost that nibbles banana bread plays with wiring...yicks !

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 7 years ago

Jay, we also had to replace all our appliances after a short period of time. We once had a the oven broiler element go bad. It looked like a fourth of July fireworks display in our kitchen. I agree with Rodney (#14), home inspections are also more important than ever even with new construction.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 7 years ago

Jay, we run into this kind of shabby work all the time.  I'm a broker, but I also own an electrical contracting company.  When showing property I immediately look at the electrical system.  That's one area I'm not willing to have clients put a contract on a property until they know all the facts.  I think we might that same banana bread thief sneaking into our house.  Things disappear all the time!

Posted by Mike Cooper, Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 7 years ago

Jay,

It really makes you wonder about things sometimes. When building your own home you almost need to have someone there full time just to make sure everything is done correctly. A construction quality control program.

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

I just checked, and you're not gonna believe this: they used a flexible copper tubing to run electricity to my range!

Posted by Reuben Saltzman, Delivering the Unbiased Truth. (Structure Tech Home Inspections) over 7 years ago

Jay it makes me wonder what the difference is.  From the panel to the box to the oven or from the panel to the oven.  What is the difference as long as the wires are installed properly?

Posted by Al & Peggy Cunningham, Brokers, Our Family Wants To Help Your Family! (RE/MAX West Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

I saw the original Apollo space shuttle capsule up close at a museum one day...it was something put together from an erector set and aluminum wrap. I couldn't believe this made it to the moon and back with a human inside. Now, you are telling me about a an oven and a electrical box that doesnt perform...the common denominator is the people who put in together....Good post Jay

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 7 years ago

Like a Handyman whose own home has alot of issues!  I have actually experienced this myself.  This has me headed home this evening to do a thorough check of my place now.

Posted by Sajy Mathew, Making your real estate dreams become a reality! (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 7 years ago

I love how builders just do enough to get by and don't care about doing it right...

Posted by Donna Harris, Realtor,Mediator,Ombudsman,Property Tax Arbitrator (Donna Homes, powered by JPAR - TexasRealEstateMediationServices.com) over 7 years ago

Ghost's and Banana bread.......very interesting

You can now forgive yourself for this oversight and enjoy a piece of bread yourself

Enjoy the day

Posted by Don MacLean, Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA (Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY) over 7 years ago

S&D - I'm suspecting it was one in the same, but I'm not telling...  shhh.

Michael - that's what my wife said, fireworks.  It is ashame things don't last long, with this planned obsolescence now, but poor wiring makes it all worse!

That's a good mix of skills, Mike!  I am suspecting the same ghost in your house as is in mine.

Donald - now, on new construction inspections, I have to change my entire routine!

 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

You deserve a response all by itself Reubs!

I LAUGHED OUT LOUD WHEN I READ YOUR POST!  So I'm not the only ASSumptive home inspector out there?  Glad to be of service my friend.  The bill is already in the mail.  Tell your wife I gave you a friendly discount.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

A&P - the appliance comes with its own cable which has a special connection on the end fitting onto the appliance it is made for.  When that is removed and another connection is made, it is vulnerable to heat, cross connections and looseness over time.

Richie - I have seen the Apollo 11 one many times and that was a pretty sophisticated device for its time!  But in space there isn't much protection needed on the exterior skin.  No matter the skin, a small meteor hitting in the right spot would be a killer.

Sajy - get on it!  This is so funny, I have to wonder how many people will be doing what you are!

It is bothersome Donna, to say the least.  But when it is unsafe that is another thing!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Done, Don!  Thanks for the permission!  I will tell the Chief Executive that I am on safe ground now!  I had some more fun with it on another post today.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

That must have been a shock Jay (no pun intended). Reuben's comment (# 23) revelation is just as bad.

It really makes you wonder about what you can't see, and want to to check every thing you can get access to. (and more).

Posted by Robert Butler, Montreal Home Inspector | Aspect Inspection (Aspect Inspection) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

Every day there is a lesson isn't there,  this one was just a little closer to home than you would have liked.

We have seen that type of wiring, fairly regularly in our area and most inspectors do check for direct wiring of main appliances, but once the equipment is installed it not as easy to do. thanks for the fun way of presenting an important issue.

Posted by Peter Pfann @ eXp Realty Pfanntastic Properties in Victoria, Since 1986., Talk To or Text Peter 250-213-9490 (eXp Realty, Victoria BC www.pfanntastic.com) over 7 years ago

Scary situation. Even if we don't know a lot, if something flickers - it can't be right.

Posted by Sandy Acevedo, RE/MAX Masters, Inland Empire Homes for Sale (951-290-8588) over 7 years ago

The shock is what happened to the oven's element Robert!   Reuben's was pretty funny too.  I do not very often open up junction boxes to check inside!

Thanks Pfanns.  I try to be instructive and am not a very staid fellow.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

I had been wondering for a while Sandi, but did nothing about it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

I'm not surprised by the faulty connection but I am intrigued as why you would blame "a ghost" for the missing banana bread...... Casper!!     LOL

Posted by Ralph Janisch ABR CRS Broker, Selling Northwest Houston to good people like you! (Janisch & Co.) over 7 years ago

Jeanne and Ralph - love the shirts, as today is Flag Day!  I would love them if it wasn't Flag Day!

As to the ghost, my ghost posts began with this one:

http://app2.dc1.activerain.com/blogsview/1600397/why-porch-ceilings-are-painted-blue

They have since morphed into other things, including naming my ghost Mosby, but all are fun.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

So, the old story of the cobblers kids having no shoes may be a case of the ghosties taking the shoes too?

Posted by Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA (CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453) over 7 years ago

Brad - I have never looked inside junction boxes, even in my own house!  But I sure checked this one when the installers were done with this last installation!  On home inspections I do pull out an electric range to look at the connection, but wall ovens I don't.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay - We used to have a wall oven and geez you know? I never thought to look at that. Oh well, We took it out now and have a range oven in it's place and made a new cabinet out of where the wall oven was... You definitely made me think about this from now on though.. thanks

Posted by Robert and Lisa Hammerstein -201-315-8618, Bergen County NJ Real Estate (Keller Williams Valley Realty) over 7 years ago

Lisa and Robert - in the meantime, run for the hills!  Check on the floor behind the range to make sure there is a solid, metal boxed receptacle and an anti-tip device on the wall.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Its really scary to think of what the homebuilder can stash behind sheetrock. Especially when he is cutting corners and trying to save money. Just another reason of why it is so important to have a thorough inspection on every home purchase....new construction or existing home! 

Posted by Rosalie Evans, The Evans Group, Sioux Falls, SD Homes For Sale (Meritus Group Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Rosalie - I have done what I thought were pretty thorough new construction inspections for about 15 years, but I have never looked inside a junction box to see the wiring!  May have to change my techniques!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay - Glad you didn't "go up in smoke."  There's just no way to check every potential hazard; that's why we need both good builders and good inspectors--and some things will still get missed.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 7 years ago

I just had to buy a new range. Has a new cord (required with new unit). My unit did the same kind of thing as yours. The board would fault. It seemed to be due to heat from using the oven. Well we bit the bullet and order a new one. While waiting for the new one to come in my wife decides to clean the old one. Can't get rid of a range with a dirty oven :). Anyway the element shorted out just like yours. It's like deja vu all over again.

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 7 years ago

Mr Jay,

The natural flow here is you shoulds sue that home inspector who missed that more than a dozen years back. Yes, he should have seed that. I is more into barbeque.

Nutsy

Posted by Steven L. Smith, Bellingham WA Home Inspector (King of the House Home Inspection, Inc.) over 7 years ago

John - I have never taken a box apart on a home inspection to inspect the inners!  And when I saw it in my cabinet I didn't then either!

This is a bit weird Jim.  Things happen in threes.  Let's hope this is the end of the home inspector/electric range/oven wars - you, the Reubster and myself!

I have heard about you and barbeque Nutsy, but I have to say it is not in a very good context.  You sure you want to go there?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay, it is a D___ed if you do D___ed if you don't situation opening junctuion boxes.  I very rarely open junctions boxes and cringe when I decide to bite the bullet and do it.  First testing the box itself to see if by some chance it is hot (have found a few).  Funny, strange what you can find in your own home.

When we moved into our present home I found an extension cord run in a cut in the concrete to power the island.  Glad my nephew is an electrician.

Posted by Jack Gilleland (Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton) over 7 years ago

And we lived with it for over 13 years Jack!  Where was your nephew when I needed him?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Ah ha!  I've always wondered if you inspectors inspect your own houses every year or so.  So you have to add taking apart junction boxes to your list now?!!

Glad your house never caught on fire in 13 years.  Kind of creepy.

Posted by Coral Gundlach, Real Lives. Not Just Real Estate. (Compass) over 7 years ago

I have never done an inspection on my house Coral!  In 13 years.  I have looked at things individually from time to time, of course.  That's why we have replaced so many appliances!

I didn't know how mice got in a few years ago.  The pest guy showed me!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

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