What I'm Seeing Now

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Electrical Cable Improperly Stripped And Connected

Electrical cables need to have particular connections to be safe - they need to be clamped, and the insulation must remain intact and completely surrounding the electrical wires it protects.  Often I see an electrical cable improperly stripped and connected.

This is most common under disposals, but behind the dryer, I think, it may be even more important.

Rubber insulation around electrical cables is very important.

Look at any electrical cord.  It is insulated!

Most electrical cables have three individual wires inside - the hot black, the neutral white and a green ground wire.

They are bound together and protected by the insulation.

When they are put into an electrical junction box, fixture, or appliance, that insulation should still be intact!

The installer forgot an important step - the connector clamp.

Electrical appliances all come with a connector clamp in the box or kit.

See the round hole behind the dryer?  That separable plate is supposed to receive a clamp, screwed in before the cable is installed, with the screws loose but still attached.

The cable would go through the plate and screwed clamp, until the insulation is securely surrounded, and those screws tightened.  The electrical connections would be made and that plate would itself be screwed to the back of the dryer.

NEWER DRYERS HAVE FOUR WIRES, NOT JUST THREE!*

In those cases the clamp can accommodate the fatter cable.

This step takes an extra two minutes!  Many installers don't care and discard the clamp.  Many installers (homeowners and Uncle Bob) don't know and discard the clamp.

AND WHEN THAT HAPPENS, THE INSTALLATION LOOKS LIKE THE DRYER ABOVE!

Seeing the insulation properly surrounded and the clamp securely installed is certainly BEST PRACTICE.

The reason I say it may be more important behind the dryer is that it utilizes a cable carrying 220 volts and packs a good punch!  If that dryer gets moved about, and the sharp edges of that opening cut into an exposed wire, it might make for an interesting drying experience!

My recommendation:  check under your disposal and dryer and see if the cable was stripped leaving insulation in place and that a clamp was properly used.  If not, you will know it was not a professional installation.  The clamp not only holds the cable in place, but also fills the hole such that IF a spark is created it is contained in an area intended to handle it.  Any spark getting out is about 2,500F and can ignite anything!

* Dryers are shipped now without plugs.  This is because some houses have a three-hole receptacle and some have a four.  Last summer our dryer fritzed.  Going to the store, and knowing about the three vs. four cable dryer plugs, I bought a dryer and the gentleman asked when our house was built.  I said 1998.  He said, "You are just on the cusp of the change between the three or four-hole dryer plugs.  Which do you have?"  AND I DIDN'T KNOW!  I had never looked!  He said, "You probably have a four, but call me if you do not."  When I got home I looked.  It is a three-prong hole!  So I called right away... 

That is proof, yet again, that home inspectors don't look at their own homes, but instead other people's.  Busted.

 

 

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 64 commentsJay Markanich • June 01 2012 02:13AM

Comments

I love when we learn something new and then pass it on to others. Will you be pulling dryers out to check in future inspections?
Margaret 

 

Posted by Margaret Rome, Baltimore Maryland, Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome ( HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400) over 6 years ago

I have always checked Margaret.  I just ran into one yesterday and thought it would make a great post.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay, That picture illustrates something I see pretty regularly out in the real world, exposed wires and no clamps.  Not a hard concept to follow, but routinely not executed.  What's a little shock hazard between friends anyway??

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 6 years ago

I have always said we should share and share alike Bliz.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay, holy schnikey! Exposed wires on anything but a lint covered dryer, yikes! again a fantastically timed post as we are in the market for a new dryer and so I shall be off to check the plug. Question for you, how reliable are the installers who show up from the store?

Posted by David O'Doherty, Clayton NC Homes, Raleigh, NC (Raleigh Realty Inc) over 6 years ago

Good morning Jay,

You, busted - I am shocked (LOL)  But, you have saved countless others from a shocking wiring connection and the frustration of possibly buying the wrong plug for their dryer.

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 6 years ago

Ahhh yes, there's nothing quite like a little slice of humble pie. I have had to eat a piece or two over the years as well. LOL

Posted by Mike Gillingham (Eastern Iowa Inspection Services LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay,

With all the vibration surrounding a dryer, it's only a matter of time for that cable to short, and then all hell breaks loose.

Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 6 years ago

I suspect you come across this rather often, unfortunately.  An ounce of prevention can go a long way...when people follow the instructions.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 6 years ago

Jay, where does the fourth wire go if you only have a three-hole receptacle? Still learning!

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 6 years ago

Electricity is not anyhing to be fooled with. Get it done right. Great post

Posted by Doug Dawes, Your Personal Realtor® (Keller Williams Realty - Topsfield, MA) over 6 years ago

One of these days there will be a homeowner that actually reads installation isntructions before doing the work. Yeah, and pigs might fly too. Not likely.

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 6 years ago

I've been shocked once(yes literally) and it was not a good feeling. Very good post.

Posted by Robert L. Brown, Grand Rapids Real Estate Bellabay Realty, West Mic (www.mrbrownsellsgr.com) over 6 years ago

It is not hard to understand how this may happen...Everyone wants the appliance up and running right away...Corners get cut and the rest is well your post...good one

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 6 years ago

It seems that dryers and ranges often have these kinds of connections---and even more commonly disposals

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Great thing to know to look out for.  My guess is that 90% of the population would never even know that the plug was supposed to be there!

Posted by Kathryn Maguire, Serving Chesapeake, Norfolk, VA Beach (GreatNorfolkHomes.com (757) 560-0881) over 6 years ago

Wow, So close to danger and no one even knows about it. Recently my aunts oven started making weird noises and smoking. Guess what it was? The installer didn't use the clamp and after several years the insulation wore through. 

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) over 6 years ago

Hi Jay,  Just had a deal go south due to a horrible inspection in which several wires were improperly terminated - among other things !   Have a great weekend !

Posted by Bill Gillhespy, Fort Myers Beach Realtor, Fort Myers Beach Agent - Homes & Condos (16 Sunview Blvd) over 6 years ago

Jay, my dog thought I was crazy getting down on the floor looking under the sink with a flashlight checking my disposal connection, I'm good thanks for the heads-up!

Posted by Adrian Willanger, Profit from my two decades of experience (206 909-7536 AdrianWillanger-broker.com) over 6 years ago

David - the plug is installed at the store!  Make sure they have it clamped properly!  That answer your question?

Lisa - yep, busted.  The store is supposed to ask, but still, it must be installed right.

Mike - I found shingles on my driveway, assuming they came from my neighbor's house after a wind storm.  Guess where they came from?

Richard - hence the need to keep the insulation intact, and the cable properly clamped.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Debbie - and those instructions have been clear for decades!

If you have a three-hold receptacle in the wall, Mike, at the store they would install a plug with three prongs.  The four does not fit on the three, and vice versa.

Thanks Doug.  For sure, things must be done the right way!

Scott - that might have been done by the boys at the store before delivery, or the installers at the time of delivery!  But you already knew that.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Robert - it's a great way to start the day!  Gets the heart going too!

Thanks Richie.  In and out, quickly done, homeowner will never know...

Thusly said in el posto Charlie.  I don't see it as often on dryers, but do often enough!

If by "plug" you mean clamp Kathryn, you are probably right!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Rob - things happen over time for sure!  Funny noises are usually not a good sign!

Bill - improperly terminated wires are often an easy fix.  I don't know about the rest of what you are talking though!

Adrian - here is a post you might like:  http://www.jaymarinspect.com/connector-clamp.html

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay - Few homeowners and far too many subcontractors understand the proper use of connector clamps and the dangers created by improper connections. Just one more example of why homebuyers/owners need to hire qualified contractors and home inspectors.

Posted by John Mulkey, Housing Guru (TheHousingGuru.com) over 6 years ago

John - sadly you are probably correct about the subcontractors and it is quite the commentary!  Get that inspection!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

 I love learning this stuff on AR. Thanks for the post JAY.

 

Posted by Erica Ramus, MRE, Schuylkill County PA Real Estate (Erica Ramus - Ramus Realty Group - Pottsville, PA ) over 6 years ago

That's okay Jay, we like learning from you. The home doesn't matter.  :)

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 6 years ago

Jay - good break down of the clamps, wires and how they work. One of these days I'm going to inspect my house!

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) over 6 years ago

Jay:

It is the same with an attorney.  My husband finally prepared our trust, but it took years of coaxing him.  He was busy preparing his client's trust.  Ours could wait.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Alain Pinel Realtors) over 6 years ago

Jay good post (again).  You always have some good and interesting stuff to share.  Funny bit about your own dryer's tail.

Posted by Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) over 6 years ago

And I'm glad you do too Erica!  One reason I read so much on AR is the education I get.

Tom - every house is a ritual sacrifice!  Sometimes I go into houses for inspections and would swear there is a room set aside especially for that!

Eric - how about you do mine and I do yours!  We can have dinner afterward and sit around and laugh at each other!

Evelyn - it's the cobbler's kids syndrome!  Every industry/profession has them!

Gary - people are people!  Glad you enjoyed this one too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

You are right, the garbage disposal frequently does not have the clamp installed. I guess some people see the clamps as extra parts ;)

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 6 years ago

Another case of someone being in too big of a hurry.   Short-cuts that no one will ever notice.....wrong.

Good call, Jay

Posted by Vince Chinell, CPI (VICO Home Inspection) over 6 years ago

They look in the box when done and say, "Hey, what's this for?" when they see the clamp Jim.  That led to my post in #23 a couple of years ago.

I bet they did that at the store before the dryer was delivered Vince.  That way the delivery guys are in and out and get more deliveries that day.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Hi Jay,

Nice post. We tend not to look at our own homes till something breaks.

And yes there are a large number of garbage disposals without the cable clamp.

Congrats on the Featured post.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 6 years ago

Just another case of;

"the cobbler's children have no shoes"

Posted by Marshall Brown, BSEE, CHI (Mid America Inspection Services, LLC) over 6 years ago

When preparing to write an offer on a house, I usually look behind the washer & dryer to see if it has EVER been cleaned behind.  That tells me alot about how well the property has been taken care of.  Now I have something else to look for.......Thanks for the tidbit!

Posted by Woody Edwards, A Realtor® Who Answers His Phone! (First Choice Realty, Inc) over 6 years ago

I agree Clint!  When I am repairing something or looking to improve it I have a look!

That's it exactly Marshall.  What can we say?

Woody - usually the connection is down low and hard to see from above.  If you can look behind it is worth it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

I actually dread your posts sometimes.....the scary things you find. But that said...I learn so much by reading them, so keep them coming. K

Posted by Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner, Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395 (Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395) over 6 years ago

Karen - glad you are shocked and awed!  That strategy works in other contexts too, not just blog posts!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Thank you, Jay - that was very informative and useful.

Posted by Raymond Denton, Simple Man (Academy Mortgage Corporation) over 6 years ago

You are very welcome Raymond.  Stop by anytime!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Sadly, Jay, I see electrician do this all the time.  You're right, it's a two minute or less step.  It's common electrial sense that you don't run high voltage wires through shart metal plates without protection, but that might be the problem, electrical sense.  

Posted by Mike Cooper, GRI, Your Neighborhood Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 6 years ago

If an electrician skips this step, Mike, it is sheer laziness.  Everyone understands why it is important, once it's explained.  And electricians have had it explained!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

One of so many things I have learned thank to your blog.  Thank You Jay.

Posted by Chris Smith, South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta (Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage) over 6 years ago

Jay, Like many I see the garbage disposal most often then I would guess it is water heaters that are next, at least here where they are almost always electric.

Them restraint/bushing dohickies are such a bother to install ; )

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

The key to life is instruction Chris.  I get instructed every day on AR, which is why I tune in!

Don - thus said in #23 above.  I don't see water heaters missing clamps too much, but every now and then!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Yeah, and the Electrician's wife always has the burned out lightbulbs - and the mortgage lender carries a 5.5% note...

Posted by Jana Holmstrup (Jana Holmstrup - CEO - Kings Mortgage Services, Inc.) over 6 years ago

Indeed ..... for an exciting drying experience grab the dryer just after the short out!

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg IL Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 6 years ago

Just another reason to hire someone that knows what they are doing.  This is not something I would ever think of.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) over 6 years ago

Jana - that's the same syndrome as described above!  It seems to span all professions!

Lyn - that is trying to experience this problem first hand!

Gene - this may have been done professionally for all I know!  But for sure, have a knowledgeable person look at it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Dear Jay,

Great observation. Have not seen the four-prong plugs, at least not consciously. I will pull one out at a new house next time, I think of it.

Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) over 6 years ago

Most houses after 1998 or 1999 have four-pronged dryer recaptacles Dorte.  Look around and you will see them!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Good evening Jay. Not sure I have ever seen the back of my dryer other than to make sure no lint was escaping back there. I think electrical errors rate up there with the most common thing I see when showing houses and I use them to convince buyers they need a FULL inspection.

Posted by Randy Ostrander, Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI (Lake and Lodge Realty LLC ) over 6 years ago

Randy - while electrical problems are certainly ubiquitous, houses are systems and one thing affects others.  That's the true benefit of home inspections, looking at and considering the entire system.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

Jay- Congrats on your feature! You make a really good point and I'm sure you see it more often than not. I see the garbage disposal wires not secured properly a lot. I think the dryer might be even worse, not the type of shock factor I like!

Posted by Amanda S. Davidson, Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale (Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group) over 6 years ago

Hi Jay, saw two almost identical while out showing this week!  When I asked the listing agent about one, she acted like it was fine!

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 6 years ago

Jay, You are a symbol of the old saying "the shoemaker's children have no shoes". All kidding aside a dryer scares me more than anything in the house. 

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) over 6 years ago

Thank you for sharing your blog; we need Real estate Professionals to share their comments and information regarding their markets and experiences. Thanks again from beautiful Sunny San Diego.

Posted by Paul Gapski, 619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo (Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty) over 6 years ago

Amanda - garbage disposals are the most common appliance improperly connected, as you say!

Bob - we don't know what we don't know...

Tom - I think you're right.  It can be the most dangerous appliance in the house.

Thanks for stopping by Paul.  I am sure San Diego is beautiful - I have never heard otherwise!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

That's a short waiting to happen. Great photo's and explanation.

Posted by Wayne B. Pruner, Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI (Oregon First) over 6 years ago

It's on its way any day now Wayne!  And they did that at the store, likely, before they delivered it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

This is one of the common problems we have to be careful for.

Posted by Elite Home Sales Team, A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team (Elite Home Sales Team OC) over 6 years ago

You found an oldie but a goodie Elite.  Thanks for stopping by!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 6 years ago

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