What I'm Seeing Now

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Double Trouble Wiring In This Electric Panel Box

As so often is the case on a "remodeled" house, I found double trouble wiring in this electric panel box. 

The first had me saying, "Star light, star bright, first star I have ever seen like this one!"

It was five wires all fitted together and connected with electric tape!

That is a first for me. 

I was afraid that even blowing on it might loosen one of the wires in the little star!

And the yellow wire adds to the drama as that is a color typically used in commercial applications.  I seldom see them used in residential applications.

They are used residentially, I understand, and usually for wall switch wiring and sometimes three-way switches. 

But in this area yellow wiring is mostly used in commercial settings.  They aren't bad in a residential box, per se, but whoever did this might have commercial experience.

BUT THE CUTE STAR IS INAPPROPRIATE NO MATTER WHAT!

I also notice a shrink-wrap connection above the star.  I have not seen that before in a panel box and am still getting an answer on that one from an electrician friend. 

The second problem involved an inappropriate double tap (double lug).

You can see it directly in the center of this photo.

These happen to be Square D circuit breakers.  They are made for a certain kind of double tap.

In this double tap the wires would to above and below the gold screw, under a panel created to house them both.

But you can see here that they are both inserted above the gold screw! 

And, the visible one is aluminum!  The wire it covers is copper...

This was a new circuit I think because there was a white double tap similarly with an aluminum and copper wire inserted together!

So what can you do?  Simply report it.

Which is what I did.

My recommendation:  when possible, have a look under the panel box cover!  Sometimes there is fun to be had!  But EXPECIALLY look under there on remodels!  Those often provide the most fun!

 

 

 

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 44 commentsJay Markanich • June 14 2013 05:54AM

Comments

Shocking, glad I was wearing rubber souled shoes while scanning this hunt and peck. The electrical tape makes you cringe.

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

I always wear rubber-soled shoes Andrew, and when people ask me to take them off I politely show them that the shoes are clean and necessary.

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

Before I stick my fingers around a panel, I look for electrical tape and wire nuts. If they are present, they is usually a problem. Electricity needs to be treated correctly. I your case Jay, it needs to be reported.

 

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) almost 5 years ago

Hi Jay,

Looks like Uncle Bob has struck again with a vengeance. Good for the buyers you had caught the issues before the closing. What a mess. I have had lines spliced in the box before but never had five lines into one.  OYE.

Have a good day in Bristow my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

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

I did Tom, for sure.  I did not know, nor do I now, about how appropriate the shrink-wrap connection is in this county.  I suspect it is a no no, but all I could say on the report was to have it checked.

Clint - well, the proof is in the pudding, um, panel box!  And all with electric tape!

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

That could be a really bad situation! Electric tape and 5 wires....

Posted by Frank Harper, Broker/Owner, Realtor, GRI, SFR. (Idaho Family Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Another good reason to have a professional home inspection.  Can save the buyer big bucks.

Posted by Edward & Celia Maddox, EXPERIENCE & INTEGRITY - WE TAKE THE HIGH ROAD (The Celtic Connection Realty) almost 5 years ago

I think so too Frank.  They will have this checked out by an electrician.  I expect repairs are in the bidding!

E&C - this one surely did.  And exposed safety issues.

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

I see a pricey repair for the seller.  I have no knowledge of electrical wiring, but from the sound of this I would advise a buyer to insist that the entire panel be replaced.  This may have been a do-it-yourself remodel and where's the permit?

Posted by Kate McQueen, REALTOR®, Tailored service for your real estate needs! (Realty ONE Group-Lone Star) almost 5 years ago

Jay,

Thank you for the heads up.  I always get a kick out reading what you inspectors find out there in some of these houses!

Posted by Wayne and Jean Marie Zuhl, The Last Names You'll Ever Need in Real Estate (Hallmark Realtors) almost 5 years ago

I see no reason to replace the entire panel.  How about let's just have the problems fixed by a licensed electrician?

Posted by Alan May, Helping you find your way home. (Coldwell Banker Residential) almost 5 years ago

Jay, Right next to "the Load Management Equipment Notice. Property of Northern Virginia Electric. Nice, you even had the phone number to report

Posted by Mark Horan, "The Resident Chef" - Resident Team Realty LLC & (Resident Team Realty, LLC & Toni's Property Management LLC) almost 5 years ago

Jay, had a sad electrical "rig job" (no star, but lots of similarities to this) on a recent sold property--very scary--and the sellers had no idea because (this is all too typical) they bought the place from relatives and never had an inspection. STUPID! There were a couple of places where kids could put their fingers in and get shocked, not good. We had to give credit at closing.

Congrats on the feature!

Posted by Gayle Rich-Boxman Fishhawk Lake Real Estate, "Your Local Expert!" 503-755-2905 (John L Scott Market Center) almost 5 years ago

I like the star. It was very colorful. ;-)

Just don't expect to do it in my house!

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) almost 5 years ago

Joe homeowner had to know that he was out of compliance with that funky star configuration.  What sup with that curly-cue pig tail deal?  Why not just cut the wire to length?  Keeping the extra length for future applications?

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

Listing agent must impress upon the seller that a good buyers agent will push the buyer to have an inspection.  I like to have the seller have a pre inspection and take care of these things before they become more costly.  There are times the seller knows and there are times they do not, but it is better to avoid all problems and litigation prior to putting it on the market.

 

Posted by Dwight Puntigan, Dwight Puntigan (DRP Realty, LLC) almost 5 years ago

It is best to have a licensed electrician to go over the entire electrical system on older homes to ensure safety.

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

You never know what you'll find in a panel box...sometimes its a poor animal friend that arced the two big wires!

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

Jay, this is why good agents always insist on a home inspection no matter how in love the client is with the property. Looks like it's time to call a licensed electrician.

Posted by Nancy Laswick, Your REALTOR® For The Valley Of The Sun (United Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Hi Jayh;, I just had my panel completely upgraded...by a reliable electrician....I feel a lot better now.   Thanks for sharing..

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

Kate - I don't know what it costs, but the whole panel does not need to be replaced in my opinion.  It is only 23 years old.  An electrician can unravel this, I am sure!

W&J - we have fun, fun, fun until the cows come home.  Then we have fun writing the reports!

What you say Alan?  Oh, see what I said to Kate...

Gayle - no telling what they inherited from the relatives!  Get it looked at!

Well, it really was a star light, star bright Than!  With kind of a black hole in the middle.

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

Roger - that's the new AFCI wiring.  Kind of kinky, huh?

Dwight - while I agree, that is a market I have been trying to break into the open around here for many years!  Nobody wants to do them!

Harry - nail hit on head.

Marc - I see a couple of previously-fried animals from time to time.

 

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

Nancy - the best policy should always rule!

Ronald - you must be feeling better now!

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

Jay, of all the jack leg repairmen, I am most of afraid of the electrical guys. Their handy work can kill you.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) almost 5 years ago

Tom - this was your typical remodeler or flipper, not an electrician!  And they are frightful!

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

Jay, I sure hope the buyer ran away from this one, because it's obvious a do-it-yourselfer thinks he/she can fix anything. I wonder what is behind the walls!

Posted by Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI, Presence, Persistence & Perseverance (Realty One Group) almost 5 years ago

Surely we don't know what's going on behind the walls Norman.  But this box can probably be rectified by an electrician, and if not then they can decide!  That's a tad beyond my purview!

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

Jay, It was a good try. too bad they did not do it right eh ;) I like the little wire triangle also. Nicely done.

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

Very nice. I love the creative wiring you have there. I do know that some butt splice connectors are rater up to 600v but they can often be rated for stranded only and require a special crimp tool. 

Posted by Rob Ernst, Reno, NV-775-410-4286 Inspector & Energy Auditor (Certified Structure Inspector) almost 5 years ago

Jay -- I am amazed what some inspections reveal when inspecting the electrical box.  The good news is that in every case the situation could be resolved.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 5 years ago

It never ceases to amaze me at the things that are done like this that are obvious!  

Posted by Gerard Gilbers, Your Marketing Master (Higher Authority Markeing) almost 5 years ago

Don - my electrician friend got back to me and said he had never seen shrink wrap connectors before either!  I guess that's not appropriate?

Get real Rob.  Crimp connector when we have that electric tape?  Sorry.  Don't be nonsensical...  sheesh.

Joan - we inspectors are sometimes amazed when we go in there too!

Gerard - ditto, and ditto as to the amazement!

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

I sometimes find that same kind of double tapping with Square D breakers. So much easier to do it right and yet...

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

I don't get it either Jim.  My electrician friend, who has been doing it for over 30 years, says he has never seen the shrink-wrap connector either, so that is incorrect and something more!

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

I love your writing style! kept my attentin the whole time! Great content too! 

Posted by Jamie Bulaich, Long Beach/ Seal Beach/Sunset Beach - Coastal Homes- 5624493637 (Keller Williams Realty) almost 5 years ago

Thanks Jamie!  Stop by again!  I'll be here...

I hope you feel instructed!

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

Looks like a mini flux capacitor! Yeah, that's gotta be it!

The answer is right next to the panel... Northern Virginia Electric, 335-0500 :-)

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

Electrical and plumbing are two areas that I shy away from.  I'll fix a door or other odds and ends but the danger/risk is just too high for those areas.

Posted by Mark Delgado, Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h (houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove) almost 5 years ago

Those DIY electrical re-wiring jobs scare the **** out of me. They could start a fire at any second. I don't understand how someone could live with that fear.

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) almost 5 years ago

My wife and I bought a 47 year-old mid-century contemporary house last year.  

The electic panel was stocked with funky push-button style breakers that kicked OFF any time we used the coffee maker in the kitchen and the TV in the family room at the same time.

We had an electrician come in and install a new panel box within 30 days of moving into the house.  He showed me where the breaker was arcing.  He also found that the insulation on the main line coming into the house had been chewed by squirrels; One of the wires was showing.

We rest easier now.

Erick Blackwelder
Exit Choice Realty

Washington DC Suburbs
703-677-1120
Equal Housing Opportunity

Posted by Erick Blackwelder, Text or call Erick now at 703-677-1120. (Cell: 703-677-1120) almost 5 years ago

Have never seen a panel quite like that one. I wonder if the homeowner did that or a handyman type person. Bunch of work there.

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

My electrician friend, with over 30 years experience, had never seen that shrink-wrap before Fred.  And that box gives the electric company the ability to control the water heater during periods of peak load.

Wise move Mark!  I wouldn't either!

Suzanne - well, they say ignorance is bliss!

Erick - that was a very smart move, and good that he could find that damage!  I was just in Woodbridge for an inspection this morning.

Bill - unknown, but whoever it was they didn't know what they were doing!

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

 

   Maybe he thought that by using 'electric' tape instead of duct tape or cellophane tape he had a legal connection?

   Jay, you state that the Square D circuit breakers are "...made for a certain kind of double tap.", but in an earlier post of yours I thought you said that double-taps are not code-approved.  Did I read/remember something incorrectly?

 

Posted by John J. Woods (Aardvark Appraisals) almost 5 years ago

That's the spirit John!  Use the right tape for the right application!  That's thinking out of the box!  The one time duct tape is not approved!

No, you remember right.  On that post I was probably referring to that particular tap.  Double taps are not code approved, but there are two circuit breakers that are made for them, so if they look like a double tap, with that breaker it is appropriate.

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

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