This is the first in what will be a series of posts by experts in various fields related to real estate, such as home inspection, mortgages, and home improvement. This inaugural post is by Jim Quarello, founder of JRV Home Inspection Services in Wallingford, CT. Find out more about Jim and what he can offer on his web site.
Does Your Uncle Understand The Subtleties of Home Inspection?
By James Quarello – Connecticut Licensed Home Inspector
Usually about once a week I have someone call me inquiring about whether they need a home inspection. You see, their Uncle Bob, who was a ______ for 30 years, walked through the house and he said everything looks fine structurally. They trust and love their Uncle Bob and really are kind of uncertain about spending all that money on a home inspection. After all, buying a home is expensive and saving a few bucks can sure help.
Nonetheless, their Realtor said it was a good idea as well as their friends at work and so they’re calling to find out if they should have an inspection.
Now I like Uncle Bob too. He is often a smart, friendly guy who knows a lot of stuff, but he is not a trained and experienced professional who can recognize subtle problems.
Electrical deficiencies are often where many Uncle Bobs and some “professionals” are going to be weak. Working on electrical systems is best left to licensed electricians. Electricity can kill you if you don’t know what you’re doing!
Home inspectors during the course of the inspection will remove the cover from any electrical panels in the home to
view the wiring inside. Here are a couple of recent discoveries in homes where “professionals” wired these panels.
Both these panels are what would be called “sub-panels”. They look like main service panels (remember those subtleties), but are wired differently.
The first panel has two new circuits added as part of a complete remodel of the home.This is an older panel and wired with BX or metal sheathed cable. The new wires are romex (look inside the green box) or plastic sheathed cables. The arrow is pointing to one of the ground wires from these new cables. It is connected to the neutral terminal of the panel. This is wrong because the circuit is not grounded. This panel was rewired by the remodeling contractor, not an electrician.
The second panel is a completely new service installed in this home by another “professional”. The arrow is pointing to a jumper between the right and left terminal bars. It should have been removed. The left bar is the ground terminal. The green box is indicating the main ground wire. But even removing the bar does not entirely correct the problem. The ground wire must be in contact with the panel itself. A bonding jumper to the panel must be installed.
So do you think good ol’ Uncle Bob would have been alert to these problems? Is it worth the price of a home inspection to find out?