There are various reasons for an overheated ground connection in a panel box.
But on a home inspection we inspectors don't diagnose causes. We simply see it and report it.
The two service conductor connections were also overheated, though not as much. But no matter what, the entire electrical system on this 1967 house, and it's original panel box, has to be evaluated professionally.
What can be the causes of overheating?
> a loose or poor connection, perhaps the most common.
> a too-tight connection.
> an insulation problem, not the issue here.
Nevertheless, seeing such a warm ground-line connection is unusual.
The heat demonstrated by the thermal image is obvious.
This warmth is radiating outward from the connection.
It is NOT a good condition!
I like to have my client look over my shoulder when I am looking at things with the thermal camera.
They not only find it interesting, but it is very instructive.
There is no disputing the fact that the discoloration in the photo above is caused by heat.
And at this point the cause of the overheating is almost irrelevant. We have older wiring, and older materials, and irreversible damage. Professional evaluation is the only recommendation I can make, but we all know what an electrician would recommend.
And prudence would listen to the electrician!
My recommendation: you never know what you will find during a home inspection. But the house is the house. We inspectors don't invent things like this. But it's really good when a problem, such as the above, can be demonstrated so definitively. Everyone sees the problem and understands that an unusual condition, and perhaps a dangerous one, exists.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560