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?
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