Was this electric meter tampered with?
For sure somebody was fooling around with it.
This is another wonderful flip. At some point along this house's 40 year life it was decided to "upgrade" the outside by spraying that cheap stucco onto everything.
And I mean everything.
But what did I focus on when I first saw the box?
The legal seal.
On this box the legal seal is the small, gray plastic device with the serial number and a metal loop.
Once the electric company is finished inside a box they seal it with this small device.
It snaps together and hangs until the electric company cuts it.
NOBODY IS SUPPOSED TO TAMPER WITH THAT SEAL.
It's not a difficult lock to open. It can be pulled apart. Which has happened here. Somebody wanted to get inside. And it wasn't the electric company or they would have put a new seal.
Why do I think somebody was tampering?
Look at the underside.
The cover has been opened.
Yes, that could have happened when the electric company was in there previously.
But up close this broken stucco looks real fresh. It was broken before and repainted, see?
Did somebody get in there to alter the dial needles, and therefore their bill?
Who knows. But my client won't be blamed for it. We have a report and a photo with today's date showing the seal was broken before he moved in. He is safe.
It's a Best Practice for the home inspector to check and make note.
The electric company does not like people getting into the meter box! I understand people can get fined for that, if the company can prove tampering was done.
My recommendation: a lot of older electric meters are being replaced with the newer, digital ones. I suspect those are a whole lot harder to tamper with. But always look at the legal seal on an electric meter to make sure it is intact. If it is broken and you tell the company, you cannot be blamed for something that is not your fault. Those fines can be hefty!
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560