What I'm Seeing Now

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"New Attic Fan Controlled By Thermostat"

"New Attic Fan Controlled By Thermostat"  At least that is what the features list said.

And it was true.  There was a new attic fan and it was controlled by a new thermostat.

I see so many things when looking at this wiring.

First, all of the wiring used for this new appliance is old.  Who knows how long the other attic fan was that needed to be replaced.  Let's assume 20 years.  It may have been much older!

And who knows if that one was wired correctly!

But this one is not.

  • New wiring for new appliances in an older house is always a good idea.  Newer appliances heat up a bit more than older ones and sometimes that heat cannot be handled efficiently by older wiring.  And, an attic space gets hot and you don't want any wiring to overheat in addition, particularly older stuff!
  • The house was built in 1962.  The old BX cable that used to service the older fan now services the new attic fan.  That's the cable wrapped in metal.  It is not grounded as this old cable came without one.  The ground wire than came with the fan is hanging up there beside motor in the unit.
  • The gray cable is what brings power to the connection inside the panel box.  It is connected to a light fixture in the hallway ceiling below and looks too small to contain a ground cable.  I did not go into the box, but the screws were very old, and looked undisturbed, and I suspect nothing was done to the connections in there because
  • the old cable now attached to the new thermostat had the insulation improperly stripped for some reason to connect the cables OUTSIDE the thermostat box.
  • The ground screw on the thermostat was not utilized.

COMPLETE GROUNDING IS VERY IMPORTANT FOR AN ALUMINUM APPLIANCE SITTING ON A ROOF!  IT IS QUITE SUBJECT TO LIGHTENING STRIKES!!

All of this would say what?  That a friend, Uncle Bob or handyman, none of whom are electricians, wired up the "new fan controlled by thermostat."  This whole assembly needs professional attention.

My recommendation:  when the features list on any house mentions this or that new installation, check them out completely.  Make certain these things were done professionally.  And hiring a home inspector to have a look is an exceptionally good idea!

 

 

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 17 commentsJay Markanich • November 23 2011 06:12AM

Comments

Sounds like this homeowner needs to warm up to the idea of calling an electrician or the warm may not be what they had in mind.

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

Jay, Sometimes the home owners are too dangerous for their own good.  Sounds like a good idea on the surface, but the execution was certainly lacking.

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 7 years ago

That will surely be the case S&D.  There were many more electrical issues.

Bliz - this fan looked fairly new too.  So I hope this installation has not been there a long time.  But, even if so, it should be taken care of now, along with a variety of other issues, electrical and not.

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

Good morning Jay. I am not a "fan" of their wiring either. Sometimes when viewing a home I am left wondering what on earth the seller could have been thinking to let that go. lol

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) over 7 years ago

Well, like I have said before Randy, people get used to their stuff and/or do not know what is correct and live with things.

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

Jay great information! We don't generally have attic fans here, but there's always so many other issues with wiring on old houses, your post covers many things.

Posted by Peg Barcelo, The FlufftasticStager from Summerland, BC (Fluff My House! Home Staging Inc. 250.486.6369) over 7 years ago

Jay -  Arthur and I just stopped by to wish you and your family a very Happy Thanksgiving

Posted by Karen Kruschka, - "My Experience Isn't Expensive - It's PRICELESS" (RE/MAX Executives) over 7 years ago

Jay, This one makes me all hot and bothered ; ) Hey those wires worked on the last fan why should they not work now? There must be some kind of wiring methodology that goes with these things (I think it is uncle Bob). Because I almost never see them done right.

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

Peg - thanks.  But any wiring should follow the same guidelines as mentioned here!

Thanks Sharon!  Same to you and yours.  And when you say stop by, you should really stop by!  We are cooking today, but you are still welcome!

Donald - you are so right about that.  Often these look like second thought installations.

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

Jay -- Let's see - attic getting hot due to the sun, requiring the fan, electrical wiring getting hot under load from turning fan on, and keeping it running; and old very dry wood.  Hmmm, sounds like setting for very nice fire.

Have a Terrific Thanksgiving!

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 7 years ago

While reading the comments it being me I was trying to come up with something witty to say when I read Steven's comment so for this one I'll just say good post

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 7 years ago

And fairly new Steven, so it may not have experienced a hot summer.  But I bet it did.  Best to do it right!

James - that's as witty as it gets!

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

Hey at least they used electrical tape...on the truss. :o

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

Great advice, Jay.  Most people would have overlooked the wiring.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 7 years ago

That there is some great attachment Jim.  Hey, the "code" says it should be attached to the structure, right?

Chris - people maybe, but hopefully no home inspectors!

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

Besides all of the points you made about electrical defects, those powered attic ventilators are junk.  Every study done on them has proven this - http://www.ashireporter.org/articles/articles.aspx?id=2177 . 

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

Sorry, Reubs, didn't see this until tonight (12/3)!  My understanding is that they have very undersized motors, which overheat easily.  Also, people set the temp too low to turn them on and they run 14 hours a day!

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

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