What I'm Seeing Now

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Was This Jumper Bar Broken By Accident Or On Purpose?

Was this jumper bar broken by accident or on purpose?

That was the question following this inspection!  This is the same panel box with paint over spray on various components, not good.

When a doctor looks at a runny nose he likely thinks a dozen things that don't occur to you and to me.  It's the same with panel boxes and home inspectors.  When we home inspectors look inside we think lots and lots of things.

Looking in here this is what jumped out at me.

The jumper bar is broken.

What else do you notice?

IT'S PAINTED.

Having never seen this before I sent the photo to my First Internet Date, Charie Buell.

His first comment back was, um, unprintable here, but thinking further he got back later to ask if this could be a sub panel.  I did not know, but the box is definitely the style of a main box with a main breaker.  However, the condo electric meters are all located inside a closet accessible only by the condo.  That being true, he suggested, this may be a sub panel in which case this jumper was cut intentionally. 

It seemed to me that if this box was fashioned to be a sub panel they would have removed the jumper rod completely, but I liked the theory enough to report it! 

The two vertical buses into which the jumper is screwed are the two neutral buses.  In a sub panel they should not be connected, so the ground wires can be isolated, screwed onto the one, and the neutral wires separated and screwed onto the other.  IF this is a sub panel the "broken" jumper rod would be okay.  If not, it is not.

The other thing is the red wires that are attached to the bus on the right, not appropriate.

So I incorporated this sub panel theory into the report as the whole box was referred to an electrician.  He would be able to access the condo closet to see if this is a main or sub panel box.

As it turns out, this is a main panel box!  It is not a sub panel at all.  So this jumper bar may have been broken by the painters who removed the cover and sprayed inside the box!  Not matter how it was damaged, it is a problem!

My recommendation:  home inspectors don't diagnose, but observe and report.  In this case the panel vs. sub panel theory was a good one, and reporting on the condition along with the theory seemed appropriate.  My client did get back to me saying that a lot of work will be done on this box.  It is soooo much better finding this out before one moves in and has a problem! 

 

 

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 21 commentsJay Markanich • February 04 2015 02:14AM

Comments

Jay, perfect example of why a buyer needs a home inspection! Enjoy your day!

Posted by Wayne Martin, Real Estate Broker - Retired (Wayne M Martin) over 4 years ago

Yes, much better to get this fixed before moving in and maybe get the seller to pay for it.

Posted by Debbie Gartner, The Flooring Girl & Blog Stylist -Dynamo Marketers (The Flooring Girl) over 4 years ago

You bet Wayne.

Debbie - no maybe about it.  I expect the seller has no idea this condition exists.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Good morning, Jay Markanich you find a lot of mysterious stuff with your inspections...you could be a Private Eye, if you need a second job!!

Posted by Barbara Todaro, Marketing Agent for The Todaro Team (RE/MAX Executive Realty ) over 4 years ago

It looks like it was cut to me on purpose.  Some part time wanna be electricians can cause more problems than they fix

Posted by Russ Ravary ~ Metro Detroit Realtor call (248) 310-6239, Michigan homes for sale ~ yesmyrealtor@gmail.com (Real Estate One) over 4 years ago

This is a good example of how a home inspection may not only identify present defects but also avoid future problems and expenses for a home buyer.

 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Barbara - I am a detective novel junkie!  Some people don't like Sherlock Holmes - I do.  But this does not take too much detective work - the thing is broken!

Hard to tell Russ.  The broken spots are kind of jagged.  If it was intentional it would be easier to simply unscrew it.

Lenn - for sure.  This was a potential problem waiting to happen.  Who know how long it's been like this.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

You sir need to expand and have a satellite station here.  You get my drift I'm sure...

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty AR LLC) over 4 years ago

Houston we have a small problem... not broken, missing.. that's right. Sure, we'll stand by.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 4 years ago

Good morning Jay,

I in this case would have to ask the experts such as yourself as to what is righr or wrong.

Make yourself a great day.

Posted by Raymond E. Camp, Licensed Real Estate Salesperson Greater Rochester (Howard Hanna Real Estate Services) over 4 years ago

That may well be a case of the current owner  not even being aware of the issue, and while not liking the cost to repair should feel some relief for the safety

Posted by Ed Silva, Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally (RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 ) over 4 years ago

Jay, what year was this building and how many units?

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Andrew - unlike the Apollo 13 flight, this will need more than duct tape!

Raymond - this would certainly be wrong, but the fix is in, so hopefully it will be right!

Ed - the unit has been vacant for a year, with the price dropping all along.  But I bet they did not know.

Charlie - now you are making me remember all the way to last week!  It was 1982, and there are three buildings in the center, built over the course of 4 years, each with 9 or 10 units. 

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, If that is in a condo then it almost certainly a subpanel. Odd way to separate the busses there. Most likely not a big issue other than workmanship. 


Posted by Donald Hester, NCW Home Inspections, LLC (NCW Home Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

That was the sum up of Charlie and me talking last week Don.  But the electrician was freaked - he could not find another main.  I have to wonder if the painters broke it!  The ends were kind of jagged so they don't appear cut.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Well the panel is certainly not a 1982 panel, so when it got upgraded, funny things must have happened.   It would almost be inconceivable in a unit that size for there to not be service disconnects at the meters---the building's service equipment.  Do you know for a fact that he got into that room?  I love this crap

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

I don't know Charlie!  My client called to say the electrician had evaluated it, proclaimed it what you said (I know you remember) and wanted to evacuate the city.  For all I know it really is a sub panel and he is just going to remove the jumper and charge big bucks!

My client did ask if all thermographers were this cute.  I had to answer honestly.

And knowing how much you like it, I love sending you so the "crap."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I like to refer to the panels as three or four wire feed. Kind of clears away some of the confusion. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

James Quarello , lots of these old condo panels use the conduit as the fourth wire however.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Charles Buell, Quite aware, the four "wire" being the metal conduit. Easy to understand and explain when necessary. 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

Maybe they could use that conduit to evacuate the city.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

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