Disposal connector clamps and cover plates.
When electrical wires enter any junction box or appliance they should be clamped.
The clamp does what you think it does.
It secures the wire so it cannot come loose or be pulled out of the device thus pulling apart the electrical connection.
And very importantly, the clamp also seals the hole so no sparks can escape.
Disposals especially need this as the kitchen cabinet is one that is often entered, and it is a space with the potential for water to get onto an electrical connection.
Many times I have looked under a disposal only to find the electrical connection hanging underneath or wrapped with electrical tape under the appliance. This is common really as the disposal is an appliance many home owners think they can replace themselves and do so.
This particular day proved that home owners of two different houses, or other non-professionals, had installed two new disposals incorrectly. And both had tried to secure the wiring. Since both are done improperly, in this home inspector's opinion we have a safety issue as the installer has demonstrated that he/she is not a professional.
Taken together the two crops show things more closely.
On the left the connector clamp is indeed holding onto the wire, but the clamp itself was not tightly screwed into the disposal and so the cable was hanging loose.
And on the right the cover plate was used to secure the cable. It was very tight, too tight. Over time, as the cable is pulled or pushed around, the cover plate can cut into the insulation and expose or damage the wiring inside and create a short or spark. The connector clamp was never used.
The cover plate is to provide a portal so the wiring can be done, pushed into a box inside the disposal, and covered completely to protect the connection. The cover plate is NOT intended to be used to secure the wiring.
To paraphrase a cliche, DS, SD - different stuff, same day. And same old, same old.
My recommendation: look under the disposal to see what has been done during installation. Was the wiring properly secured? Does the disposal work? Look at other electrical appliances - the water heater, or furnace - to see if cable clamps have been used. It is a national electrical code item to have electrical wiring properly clamped. And remember, the code is a minimum standard, so this safety connection has to be made.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560