What I'm Seeing Now

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Electrical Hidden Treasures!

On two successive inspections I encountered electrical hidden treasures! 

One house was remodeled recently and the other decades ago!

The house on the left had a new kitchen arrangement, including cabinets.

I tripped one of the kitchen GFI receptacles and heard it trip. 

But could not locate it anywhere.

Inside, outside, behind the fridge, it was no where to be found!

Not to be deterred we looked further.

Behold and lo, there it was, in the new pantry cabinet, behind the food!

A well-hidden treasure!

Feeling better, we moved on!

The last one was a house that had been added on to many times over it's 50 year life span.

And the kitchen extended.

But the panel box was no where to be found!

And I mean I looked everywhere!

Where would it be in a house that had been so changed, as originally the panel box could have been anywhere, even in a bedroom closet.

Even Chiquilina could not locate where the main service line, attached to the house from the street and passing through the crawl space wall, as where it entered the house was obscured from my view.

Finally, I found it!

In the kitchen cabinet, installed sometime in the 70s, I guessed.

The cabinet framing was in front of the box so closely that I could not even think of removing the cover.

And the door had been removed to better accommodate the cabinet!  Yikes!

Feeling better to have found it than not, but not feeling good about its location, at least I had something to report!

My recommendation:  neither of these is a proper installation.  Electrical things you must have access to must NOT be hidden!  It's hard to know where things are sometimes, and you can't always get what you want.  But if you try, sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need.  And in this case I NEEDED to find some electrical hidden treasures!  And did.

 

 

 

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 50 commentsJay Markanich • May 20 2013 05:31AM

Comments

The do's and don'ts of wiring or how not to...thanks for the graphic, shocking illustrations! Circuit panel behind the peas and carrots can...Moma says that is a no no...that's what she always says.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 5 years ago

Andrew - yes, behind anything, but especially peas and carrots!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

How would you like to stick your hand into that cabonet to grab something and inadvertantly stick your finger in the GFCI?  It would be shocking for sure!

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) over 5 years ago

Both of these are a bit odd Marc.  Can you imagine?  They apparently have not had to get into that panel box since that cabinet was installed a long time ago!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I don't find the outlet in the cabinet so shocking, but the electrical panerl in the pantry is a definite nono.  How would you ever find it in an emergency?

Posted by Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528, Real Estate Salesperson (Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956) over 5 years ago

The one in the cabinet tripped off the kitchen Lora, so I needed to find it!  Still, it's not appropriate.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay,

Hidden in the pantry. All I can say is "WOW". There will be some modifications for this seller to do to make this electrical panel accessible. Now you know the sellers are going to blame you for finding the issues. LOL

Have a good day inspecting in Virginia.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 5 years ago

One can almost revisit the time when the decision was made...out of sight ...out of mind. Human nature continues to fascinate..good post jay

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 5 years ago

More very good reasons for every home buyer to request a professional home inspection.

Posted by Roy Kelley, Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs (Realty Group Referrals) over 5 years ago

I am happily at fault Clint!  My problem, for sure.

Richie - they wanted to remodel the joint!  What's wrong with that?

Roy - more of many reasons!  There are innumerable reasons, for sure.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Hi Jay, that's the last place I would have expected to find electrical infrastructure. Nice job looking through the pantry!

:)

Posted by Matt Listro, Your Credit Repair Expert (National Credit Fixers - Matt Listro) over 5 years ago

Jay,

I'm sure it was allowed when they had permits pulled to do the work :-)

Rich

Posted by Richard Iarossi, Crofton MD Real Estate, Annapolis MD Real Estate (Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage) over 5 years ago

Yes, you can't always get what you want! da-dum!! The hits keep coming!

 

Posted by Richard Arnold, Realtor - Tempe, Chandler, Mesa, Gilbert, Phoenix (Keller Williams Realty East Valley) over 5 years ago

Like I say to my kids, Matt, if it isn't where you are looking it must be where you are not looking.

Richard - good thinking, as always!  Yes, for sure.  Yep.  You got it!

Rich - wow, that sounded familiar?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Hey, if Chiiquilina can't find it... it can't be found! Fagettaboutit! 

Yes, the older homes that have been remodeled more than once is surely to have some hidden gems like the electrical panel. I've seen them just about everywhere, from the hallway to behind hidden wall panels. Found any pennys behind the screw in fuses?

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 5 years ago

Even in residential, aren't you supposed to have at least three feet of clearance in front of an electrical panel? 

Posted by Roger Stensland, Let's Move! (The Cascade Team Real Estate) over 5 years ago

Where has the inspection process gone? Obviously the owners see more benefit in cutting a few little expenses than to assure safety. They performed the work and were correctly feared that their job would not pass muster.... and rightly so.

Posted by Brad Rachielles, REALTOR, CDPE, Upland, CA (CENTURY 21 Peak, Ca BRE# 01489453) over 5 years ago

Couldn't get in the box Fred!

Roger - something like that!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

No permits here Brad!  Neither would have passed.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I hate to think of an emergency and a fireman looking for the panel board. .

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 5 years ago

Nice nod to the Stones, and great advice for your kids and all of us aging. I saw it a minute ago.

 

Posted by Matt Brady, Lending With Competence And Character (Skyline Home Loans) over 5 years ago

Jay, Love the panel in the cabinet. Have seen that one a few times.  Honey, peas, beans or sparks?

Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Mercy!  How long would that have taken a homeowner to locate?  I've seen it a time or two.  Those electricians are expensive.  Just cover it up and cut a hole in case you need to ever get to it, right?

Posted by Mike Cooper, Your Winchester, VA Real Estate Sales Pro (Cornerstone Business Group Inc) over 5 years ago

Jay -- hmm - that means they probably didn't have any circuit breakers popping recently.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 5 years ago
Those are good locations for hiding.. I always look in the bedroom closet first but not the kitchen.
Posted by Michael Blue, REALTOR - 760-889-8877, Encinitas/Carlsbad (Home Smart Realty West) over 5 years ago

Great post & photos.  I had a similar experience where all the kitchen outlets were ganged to a GFI that was hidden by a trim panel held in place with Velcro.  I found it only due to tenacity and luck.

Posted by Tom Jansson, Chicago Area Home Inspector - InterNACHI Certified (Acuity Home Inspections) over 5 years ago

It is always nice to have a trusted electrician when needed to check out the entire home before purchasing it.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (Real Estate and Beyond, LLC) over 5 years ago

Jay,

OMG, that was great!  I need to share that with an electrician friend.

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Samsel & Associates) over 5 years ago

It really must raise your Spidey senses when you see something like that and realize you could be in for a long day of testing, inspecting and searching folllowed by a long report to write up.

Posted by Aaron Hofmann, aka Mr. Smyrna Vinings (Atlanta Communities) over 5 years ago

I could use our when I go fishing....Great job and thanks for sharing with us..

Posted by Ronald DiLalla, No. Orange Cty Real Estate (Century 21 Discovery DRE 01813824) over 5 years ago

Jay, you have the greatest blogs.  The stuff you find and write about is amusing (yet, informative) and I think you have too much fun reaching for your camera, thinking about your next headline.

Posted by Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, REALTOR and Broker (Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates) over 5 years ago

Sometimes the concept of proper access is lost on people---Oh---I forgot, one has to know first of all that things require proper access:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Your blog and your experiences better prepare me for future Home Inspections. Your examples are downright scary. But eureka, you found them.

Posted by Jane Chaulklin-Schott, TeamConnect Luxury Homes - Orlando, Florida, 32836 (TEAMCONNECT REALTY - (407) 394-9766) over 5 years ago

You are definitely right about the electrical hidden treasures, you had to really dig and search for them! Thank you for sharing.

Posted by Ralph Gorgoglione, Hawaii and California Real Estate (800) 591-6121 (Maui Life Homes / Metro Life Homes) over 5 years ago

I'm working on a house where the panel is over six feet off the ground. I can imagine a problem with that, but it's been there for 40 years!

Posted by Joetta Fort, Independent Broker, Homes Denver to Boulder (The DiGiorgio Group) over 5 years ago

If the electrical was such a problem, I would be concerned about the rest of the house.

Posted by Kathy Scipione, Kathy Scipione, CRS, GRI, AHLS, ABR, (Long and Foster Re Inc) over 5 years ago

Jay as a retired Firefighter after 25 years I can tell you the electrical panel fires are common. They don't out number the pot on the stove, but they are up there. I can just think of the time we search for the source of the electrical smell and searched 15 minutes looking for the box. In one case we never did find the main so we pulled the meter and had to stick around for about 2 hour till the house cleared of smoke and told the owner to call an electrician.

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) over 5 years ago

Jay - I did an inspection and found the panel in the bathroom over the toilet with a mirror covering part of the panel.

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) over 5 years ago

Fernando - they have more fun when they can find it!

You noticed that Matt?  You old fogie you.

And the cabinet was nicely fitted around it Don!

Mike - and apparently they have not had to get to it in a long while!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Guess not Steven.  But if they did they could probably reset them.  Just couldn't get to them!

Michael - you're right, in older homes the box is often in the closet!

You don't think it fits in nicely with the canned goods Valerie?

Tom - serendipity is sometimes what saves me on a home inspection!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Harry - and I recommended that this buyer consult one before purchase!

W&J - he will have a great laugh!

Aaron - it's 10:25 now and I just finished this evening's long report!

Ronald - that's what we need, the fish that got away story!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

I hate it when that happens. All my GFI's are in the garage. The garage is not. Have had to educate wife and daughter a couple of times when the GFI's have popped. The buried box is another story.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 5 years ago

Gary - often when I see something the blog immediately gets written in my mind!

Cousin Blat - doesn't your tongue find proper access to your mouth when it's stuck onto something tasty?

Jane - there are many great inspectors on AR who write every day!

Ralph - this was a long time in finding!  Very odd, but at least I finally found it!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Joetta - that was probably against the code even then!  But who knows.

Kathy - and on this house you would be correct!

Chuck - panel fires happen!  I have seen the bumper stickers.  And to hide one is odd at best.

Eric - wow, I don't even have a comment for that one!

Bill - there is no rhyme or reason to GFI locations sometimes!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Great one Jay, I have seen some difficult boxes but this may be the most impressive.  Could be a problem when adding a circuit or changing a breaker.

Posted by Bob Crane, Forestland Experts! 715-204-9671 (Woodland Management Service / Woodland Real Estate, Keller Williams fox cities) over 5 years ago

Could be a problem Bob?  I could not figure out how to get into it to see the box.  Surely the electrician would have to remove that cabinet!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

Good morning, Jay. It makes my head hurt when I see things like this. But you know, someone thought it was a good idea --- at the time...

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 5 years ago

It's so hard to make those darn kitchens bigger Michael!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

You were looking for a can of beans and found an electric panel. Amazing! 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 5 years ago

I think I found a can of worms, Jim.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 5 years ago

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