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Inappropriate Use Of Extension Cords

There are many means of inappropriate use of extension cords.

Extension cords are NOT meant for long-term, or permanent, wiring to operate appliances or fixtures. 

Especially dangerous, and often seen, is when the cord is undersized for what is asked of it.  I see extension cords, (and even speaker wires!), used to wire light fixtures and chandeliers.

It is especially bad when an extension cord passes behind a wall or ceiling. 

This extension cord was seen in a basement that to me provided evidence had been finished without a permit.

This is an old receptacle on the wall, and was obviously there before the new wall was built.

This extension cord is used permanently.

It is undersized.

It is servicing an appliance with a grounded plug, utilizing a large, grounded wire.

Notice inside the red circle that the ground prong of the appliance plug is not being used!  The extension cord is not for grounded applications.  The homeowner actually drilled a hole in the white end of the cord to accommodate the ground prong!

 

Even worse, I could not determine what it is that this extension cord and appliance plug service.  It passes behind the wall to an undetermined place.

When the cord was unplugged nothing changed.  When light switches were experimented with nothing changed.  I could not figure out what this did.  And so the report stated!

My recommendation:  what seems simple and common sense obviously is not to some people.  An extension cord used all the time to plug in a lamp is fine as the lamp is not usually on 24/7.  But any extension cord that passes behind a wall or ceiling to service something unknown is never a good idea.  And can be dangerous.

 

 

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 18 commentsJay Markanich • November 19 2015 02:43AM

Comments

 Good Thursday morning Jay. If I got a nickel for every time that I have seen this I would still have a nickel. Folks just like a fool with electricity don't they?

Posted by TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc., Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029 (Complete Home Inspections, Inc.) over 4 years ago

I would have more than a nickel Michael!  You and I could go to a very nice place for lunch!

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

Good morning Jay. Do you sometimes wonder what people are thinking, or not? Enjoy your day!

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

Good morning Jay,

Now even the farm boy that I am would never have thought to drill that hole!

I wish I had the pictures of a home a couple of years ago; the extension cords being used had a better array than some spider webs.

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

Wayne - "sometimes" would be an inappropriate use of words.  "All the time," or "everyday," would be better!

Raymond - well, how else can that pesky thing be handled?  I have seen the ground prong ripped out and cut off more times than I can remember. 

<------  And do you mean like that?  

I have looked behind cabinets to not be able to see the floor or wall!

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

The plug/cord to nowhere....new decortin gtechnique perhaps ?

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 4 years ago

That's as good an explanation as any, S&D!

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

Wondering why they used an extension cord in the first place.... looks like the black cord would reach the receptacle anyway... and it's a 3 pronged outlet! 

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 4 years ago

Hi Jay - Nice. Speaking of extension cords, I'm wondering why Billy Jay hasn't started offering these yet:

Connect-a-Cord

Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) over 4 years ago

Fred - that is a question probably even karma cannot answer.

Dick - he considered selling what you see in comment #5, but decided it wouldn't fly.

Now that little gaggle of problems is great!  And what a good idea to put an electric radio beside the bath tub!  Sometimes GFI receptacles don't trip!  Or trip very slowly!

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

You and Dick Greenberg are cracking me up.  Yeah..the pic in that extend a cord is nuts.  Would she like to make some toast on the ledge of the tub?   

Posted by Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA (Long and Foster REALTORS®, Gainesville, VA) over 4 years ago

Chris Ann - some things are only believed when seen in person.  For all we know, she is really on a beach and they have photoshopped her into a bath tub!

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

"Undersized ... drilled a hole into the white end of the cord ... I could not determine what it is that this extension cord and appliance plug service."

That just sounds scary Jay, I hope I'll never read this in an inspection report!

Posted by Andrea Bedard, M.A.; REALTOR® Silver Spring, MD and beyond (Thompson Company, REALTORS®) over 4 years ago

Well, they read it Andrea!  Creativity will never cease.  And, as Fred said up there, I think the appliance cord would reach the receptacle.  Not sure why they needed the white one!

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

If this is what you can see by opening up the panel access, what else is hiding behind the walls?  This would be all I would need to see to make me walk on this property.

Posted by Stephen Weakley (Nationwide Mortgage Services) over 4 years ago

This little cubby hole didn't even have a cover on it Stephen!  All I could do was wonder.

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

My husband, the volunteer firefighter, said a house fire this summer was caused by just this sort of thing Jay Markanich.   An undersized extension cord caught the wall and insulation on fire when it overheated due to a large air conditioner pulling too much power for the thin cord. 

Posted by DEANNA EARLY - - ( NMLS # 268590 ), Highest Ranked Mortgage Loan Originator Virginia (American National Bank & Trust) over 4 years ago

Yep, which is why such applications are prohibited, Deanna.

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

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