What I'm Seeing Now

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With Electricity, Close Doesn't Count

Surely, when connections should always be strong and tight, with electricity, close doesn't count. 

I have always heard the cliche that close only counts playing horseshoes, throwing hand grenades, dancing and nuclear war. 

BUT NOT WITH ELECTRICAL CONNECTIONS!

Notice the lone wire in the center of the photo.

That is a neutral connection.  It is not "hot" as far as some panel box connections go, but it is relevant.

Touching it I could make it move.  It was laying on the neutral bus, but not connected to anything.

It's hard to know what the neutral lines service when one looks into a panel box.

There are many of them, lined up, screwed under a lug in one or two or three long buses, but none is labeled.

When noticeably loose, I always wonder what circuit a neutral line is supposed to service.

In this house, interestingly, I got a very low voltage reading from one of the kitchen circuits.

Could it be this one?  Maybe!  The house was vacant, so we don't know if there are any other abnormalities.

This needs professional attention!  I will not go in there to "help."  There are too many stories out there from Good Samaritan home inspectors who attempt to "fix" something simple during a home inspection and end up causing big problems!  It's sad to say, but many times I have run into booby traps sellers have left for me, something that has been broken previously and left for me to "test."  Then, if it "breaks," they can claim I "broke" the thing during the home inspection and try to get me to pay for it.

My recommendation:  if it isn't right, it needs to be called out, brought to everyone's attention, and repaired, and  PARTICULARLY when a problem involves electricity.  Safety first, always, safety first. 

 

 

 

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 20 commentsJay Markanich • August 29 2013 05:01AM

Comments

Jay, you are one smart home inspector. I had a listing where the home inspector took the face off the panel box and for some reason couldn't get it back on correctly. So what do you do in that case? You break the box of course!

I would be very upset if an inspector tried to fix something like this. Not the inspectors job for sure. 

As always, a great post! Even if just the sight of an electrical panel makes me cringe!

 

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 5 years ago

Ah....breaker breaker..best to call attention to what needs attention....!

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) almost 5 years ago

Andrea - sometimes when replacing the cover I accidentally trip half the houses' breakers!  I have never run into a cover I could not replace.  And would never "fix" this!

S&D - 'tis best, 'tis.  That's about all I can do!

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

Jay, this guy helped himself to something to eat too, and left the dish in the sink. What can I say. 

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) almost 5 years ago

Hi Jay,

As stated in my post yesterday, being a contractor there needs to be attention to the details. Finish the job but finish it right.

It seems there is no pride any more in what contractors do. No matter what the job.

Have a great day in Bristow.

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

Tripping a few happens every so often to me as well. But boy when I hear of inspectors repairing stuff it makes me nuts. Who do they think they are, Mike Holmes?? 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) almost 5 years ago

Jay,

I rarely have sellers give me any grief when it comes to electrical repairs. They know that first and foremost, it really is a safety issue.

Rich

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

Just a little "oops, I missed" moment, right?

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

The nerve of not licking it clean and putting it back into the cabinet, huh Andrea?  My dog is the best plate cleaner in the house.  We don't need the dishwasher!

Clint - word!

Scott - hopefully not.  I have my own problems with Mr. Mike.

Rich - and they should not!  They should feel peace knowing objective people have their backs.

Fred - who knows how this happened!  Or when.

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

Exactly right.  You are not there to do repairs and in this day and age someone would jump on you if they could.  Electrical issues are one of those things that people are real touchy about.  

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) almost 5 years ago

Jay -- this is great picture, clearly showing where and how this isn't done properly.  Good to call it out instead of trying to fix it (besides if you started fixing the "small, easy" stuff pretty soon you would only be able to do one inspection a day!)

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) almost 5 years ago

I am touchy too Gene!  No do them, I.

Thanks Steven.  It is self explanatory.  Fixing things would put me in some houses a long time!

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

I think these wires can work there way out while doing other work inside the panel. The origin of the problem may be that they were never tight enough from the start Jay.

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

That would have to be the case, unless it was removed to do something else and forgotten Tom.  Looseness in a neutral line can cause other problems, like dimming of lights and such.  You'd think someone would have noticed something.

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

I do not mess with electrical things at all.  I have a healthy respect for it and always use someone who knows what either doing. 

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) almost 5 years ago

We all should James.  That's why it is its own field, with its own training!

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

Yep. Not for me to fix, just observe and report.

Hmmmm...where or where have I heard that before....

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

Jim - once I had a seller call me to say he could fix everything on my report, but then asked what he should do about some of those things I found and reported on.  Yeah, I'm going there too.

I said I really only observe and report, and that he should rely on a specialist in those areas, as, no doubt, the addendum reads.

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

I once had a buyer insistently ask me how to repair the completely mis-wired sub panel. I told him repeatedly;

Hire a licensed electrician. 

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

Ha!  A seller once told me he would not let me leave his house until I told him how to repair everything I found.  Ummm....

Oh, I left without telling him.

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

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