What I'm Seeing Now

head_left_image

The Electric Meter Legal Seal

On every home inspection I look carefully at the electric meter legal seal. 

The electric meter belongs to the electric company.  Only they have the right to go inside. 

To dissuade others from entering the meter box the company will attach a legal seal.  It's not big and strong.  But it's there.  It's there to keep people out.

The electric company does not like it when others go into the electric meter.  They assume the worst - that the meter has been tampered with and the customer's bill has been altered.

My company charges a $500 fine for a broken legal seal.  I assume others do too.

I always check the seal carefully.

Why?

Because people can be sneaky.

They can go into the meter, alter their final bill, settle up and move on.

Look closely at the legal seal in the photo to the left.

That is about the view you would have of it on a home inspection, when approaching the meter.

See anything funny?

The seal is broken! In fact, it was cut.

It was INTENTIONALLY cut!

It was cut and then tucked carefully back into the hole to make it look like the seal is not broken!

I see this three or four times a year.

It has to be documented on the home inspection report because I don't want my clients suspected of and charged for breaking the seal.

It appears someone else wants my clients to cover the fine!

But my inspection report is time stamped and it will have photos to demonstrate that when we were there the seal was already broken.

The electric company will have to investigate someone else.

And I hope they can find out who did this!

Scam artists are everywhere. 

It's too bad.

But I'm glad to find this!

It will not be my client's responsibility.

My recommendation:  there are many, many things to look for on a home inspection.  Things big and things small.  Check as much as you can!  You never know what you might find.

 

 

 

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 51 commentsJay Markanich • September 22 2013 04:41AM

Comments

Wow Jay, I had no idea people would tamper with the meter just to save a few dollars?  Incredible, thanks for sharing

Posted by Jennifer Mackay, Your Bay County Florida Realtor 850.774.6582 (Counts Real Estate Group, Inc.) almost 7 years ago

I have seen it a lot over the years Jennifer.  It's too bad.  What do they hope to gain?

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

They are color coded here too. Yellow is "in service" and pink or red if the power has been shut off by the electric company.

I'm wondering how you know how much that fine is :-)  Hmmm...

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) almost 7 years ago

Interesting.  I've never looked for the seal on my own electric meter but now I will. 

Posted by Cindy Jones, Pentagon, Fort Belvoir & Quantico Real Estate News (Integrity Real Estate Group) almost 7 years ago
Good catch Jay!
Posted by Juan Jimenez, The Richmond Home Inspector (A House on a Rock Home Inspections LLC) almost 7 years ago

Most fascinating post...The thing looks so innocent too...Come closer, yank it off...BAM...you owe me $500.00! Sorry pay or?

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) almost 7 years ago

Good catch. Hopefully, your client can build that into the negotiations so they are not fined for it later.  Or, perhaps the documentation on your end covers that so they can avoid it.  

Posted by Women of Westchester Working Together, Women helping Women get ahead (Women of Westchester Working Together) almost 7 years ago

Jay, who knows when this could have been done. No stone goes unturned in your job. Good catch!

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA almost 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

Here you can get into a lot of trouble if you cut the seal on the meter panel. by doing so you can actually bypass the meter and end up getting free electricity. But this is why the locks are in place to stop theft of electricity.

I have only found one meter box years ago that this was happening. They bypassed the meter and wired the loops. Then placed rubber behind the upper meter stubs to stop the meter from usage and reading. For the meter reader, it looked like the home has had the power off for a long time.

Have a great 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 7 years ago

Nicely done Jay.  With all the people we deal with day in and day out, unfortunately we are bound to run into the hustler/scammer/wise guy on occasion. It take a true professional to catch the small details they leave, or don't leave behind - to best protect our clients. A+ job!

Posted by Steven Pomeroy, Your Dream is my Passion. (Wilkins and Associates) almost 7 years ago

I had someone attempt to break into my meter box about a year ago.  After talking to the electric company apparently they were stealing them for scrap. 

Posted by Marc McMaster, Putting my clients before myself (RE/MAX Centre Realty) almost 7 years ago

Jay, it is always a good idea to give them a little tug---I too find 3 or 4 a year.  Not always illegally cut though.  sometimes it just means the new installation has never been finaled or the utility hasn't gotten there to put the new one on.  Always gotta report it though.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 7 years ago

I've seen those before but never thought anything about them.  I get it and will be eager to look more closely next time I run into one of these meters.

Posted by Frank Castaldini, Realtor - Homes for Sale in San Francisco (Compass) almost 7 years ago

Fred - I think here the different companies have different colors, but I am not sure.

Cindy - the one on the Occoquan house must have been okay or I would have mentioned it.  That, however, was superseded just a tad by some structural thing or two.

Juan - I pull on every one.  In this case I could even see it.

Richie - if the fine isn't paid I guess the electricity gets shut off!

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

W of W - I think there were a few more things on this house that will be negotiated over this one!

Mike - this really is something that needs checking.  So I do!

Clint - would that have caused the reader to take the globe off and check?  I don't think I've ever see a loop with rubber.

Steven - people say this or that person should "give back."  I think it's the scammers and thieves who should give back, with a few months of community service.  That should solve this problem.

 

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

Wow Marc.  That is one dangerous way of trying to acquire scrap for sale!

See my response to Juan above Charlie.  But when I pull and the whole thing comes out that is probably why - wasn't set properly.  In this case I could see that it had been cut.

Frank - that's the point of the post.  Most people probably don't know to check.

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

That does sound like someone was doing something sneaky Jay, great job of catching it and protecting the client.

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 7 years ago

Good Morning Jay!

You truly cover everything with your home inspections. Good catch!

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) almost 7 years ago

Never gave it a thought to check the meter. Here in South Florida electricians cut the seals all the time. Never heard of the fine, so maybe that why it's being done so much.

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) almost 7 years ago
Jay, Something else that I'm sure most of us were not aware of. Really important to know so our clients don't get assessed a charge by the electric company.
Posted by Bill and MaryAnn Wagner, Jersey Shore and South Jersey Real Estate (Wagner Real Estate Group) almost 7 years ago

I see it often Tom.  And they are MY clients!  Think of me as a Mother Bear, so to speak.

Gracias Suzanne.  We try, we really try.

Electricians are not allowed to cut the seal Chuck!  Mayhaps there is no fine!

That happens here Bill.  I can't speak for everywhere though.

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

Jay, I am just saying that any electrician will cut the seal to work on a system where pulling the meter is necessary (has always been allowed here).  Then the meter just needs to be resealed.  Here is a picture of one that was clearly "tampered" with---and most likely not by a licensed electrian :)  When they tuck it in like in your picture that would seem a bit deceptive as well.

Got a torch

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 7 years ago

Jay, good catch! Can't say I've ever had a home inspector mention this. 

Posted by John M. Scott, Broker / Owner San Francisco Bay Area (BRE # 01442690, Scott Keys Properties) almost 7 years ago

Wow, Charlie, that looks like it was tampered with by a beaver with a Harley cigarette lighter!  Here the legal seals are owned by the electric company so I don't think electricians can reseal things.  I will check into that!

John - yes, many times over the years!  That's my third or fourth just this year.

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

    Personally, if I wanted "free electricity",  I would climb on the roof and splice into the secondary incoming line above the meter, and just bypass the thing.    Must easier to disguise with electric tape!     j/k

Posted by Fred Griffin Tallahassee Real Estate, Licensed Florida Real Estate Broker (Fred Griffin Real Estate) almost 7 years ago

I saw that all over the place in South America, Fred!  The wires on the poles are live and people would hook over them and run a cable into their houses, hooking the cable up to whatever they could.

Oh, it's really, really safe to do it that way!

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

Jay, no---they cannot reseal them---just call the utility.  In my experience when I find these seals broken the utility is happy to come and put the seals back on no questions asked if it is an older installation and no one is likely to be found that is responsible.  If it is because of new work being done they are likely going to insist on seeing the green sticker installed on the meter base by the electrical inspector.  All kinds of red flags get raised when I find these seals broken.  Sometimes there is hell to pay---other times not.  Often it is simply incomplete paperwork.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 7 years ago

Also Jay, did you notice there is a frog on your head on the Feature Board?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) almost 7 years ago

Jay, you have amazing eagle eyes to spot this deficiency! Oh the lengths people will go to to cheat. Too bad indeed.

Posted by Ralph Gorgoglione, Hawaii and California Real Estate (310) 497-9407 (Maui Life Homes / Metro Life Homes) almost 7 years ago

So I guess they just call the electric company to say they went inside and things get sealed back up!  That may be the case here, I will have to call an electrician friend Charlie.

Thanks Ralph, but I have been doing this long enough to check even when I don't see it!  I just pull!

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

Jay - Another fine lesson to agents and buyers alike... and another item on my list to be on the look out for when previewing a home for listing or acting on the buyers behalf.

Posted by AJ Heidmann ~ CRS, YOUR Alexandria & Arlington, VA Real Estate Expert (McEnearney Associates, Inc.) almost 7 years ago

With the Smart Meters in Dallas, our supplier sends us reports of our usage every week. Usage is recorded every 15 minutes, a report is created and emailed. There's no way to turn back the kilowatt hours here.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) almost 7 years ago

Jay - Some utility companies install bullets which are locks that can only be removed with a special key that only the utility workers carry. These locks may catch on nation wide.

Posted by Eric Middleton, Professional Property Inspector (Closer Look Property Inspections Inc.) almost 7 years ago

Jay, I have not come across such issue so far - though a good point and only a good home inspector notices it and can help his/her client.

Posted by Praful Thakkar, Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale (LAER Realty Partners) almost 7 years ago

Good idea AJ!  But still, when just previewing a home, you can point it out to the sellers, but until there is a contract your buyer is not liable.

I have not seen the smart meters here Sharon, but suspect things like that will catch on.

Eric - like with Sharon, I bet that as the need gets more and more frequent utilities will be doing extra things to keep people out of their boxes and meters!

Praful - sooner or later!  The utility company will notice when it becomes their thing. 

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

I like the idea of taking pictures at the inspection and having them date stamped. Thanks for the tips.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) almost 7 years ago

That way there is no way my clients can be blamed Gita.

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

This is the first time I've heard of this but I'll definitely be aware of it from now on.  Sort of makes me want to run out and look at my meter, except in my case someone would have speeded it up. 

Posted by Geri Sonkin, Long Island Real Estate & Staging Expert (Douglas Elliman Real Estate 516-457-7103) almost 7 years ago

The Devil is in the details such as a broken electric tag. There are many scam artists out there.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia III, Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR (RentVest) almost 7 years ago

Jay-Thanks for the warning. I've never noticed this as being on any inspection reports I've seen. Maybe the tags have all been intact. I'll be mindful of this now.

Posted by Wayne Johnson, San Antonio REALTOR, San Antonio Homes For Sale (Coldwell Banker D'Ann Harper REALTORS®) almost 7 years ago

Hi Jay,

  I never ever thought that people would do ythis type of thing!But I live and learn,and will now be aware !

                 Best,

                   Eli

Posted by Charlotte Luxury Real Estate, Eli Magids (Keller Williams - Ballantyne Area) almost 7 years ago

Glad you learned something Geri!  That's why we come to AR!

Too many Harry.  They should be forced to give back.

Wayne - I run into 3 or 4 a year.  It's unlikely there have never been broken ones!

Eli - keep a sharp eye!  You can see them if you look closely, or pull on it.

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

Jay, great catch always good to give em a little tug to see.

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

I've seen this before and the seller usually has the sheepish Alfred E Neuman look on their face when asked about it. BUSTED!!

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) almost 7 years ago

We do tug Don, that voodoo that we do so well.

Scott - what, me worry?

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

Nice catch, Jay.  I'm sure many would have missed this one.

Posted by Gabe Sanders, Stuart Florida Real Estate (Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales) almost 7 years ago

Perhaps Gabe, but for me, I always check.

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

Jay, have never run across this before either, but will keep my eyes open and hope my inspector finds this type of cheating.

Posted by Joan Cox, Denver Real Estate - Selling One Home at a Time (House to Home, Inc. - Denver Real Estate - 720-231-6373) almost 7 years ago

It happens Joan!  I see it often!

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

Looks like there is a difference between "intentionally cut" and critters who chew....though that looks like it would be quite a mouthful.

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

That is something that would be hard to chew through S&D, especially so cleanly.  And when animals chew it is to get to food.  I wonder what food they might think is in or around there.

I think a scammer chewed through it with a wire snip!

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

This blog does not allow anonymous comments