Home Inspection Beyond the Breaker Box and with Power On

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I am in the process of selling my house. What do you all think of a home in spector who takes off the breaker box cover off (not just opens the door to expose the breakers; he had to remove four screws to get the cover off), e xposes the wire connections, all the while keeping the main breaker shut an d so the insides of the box remained electrically hot as he did a visual in spection and took photos? The breaker box has a prominent sticker in it tha t says to open the main breaker prior to removing the cover.
In his report, the inspector commented: "Any electrical repairs attempted by anyone other than a licensed electrici an should be approached with caution. The power to the entire house should be turned off prior to beginning any repair efforts, no matter how trivial the repair may seem. ... Missing strain relief at panel. Have a licensed el ectrician make further evaluation and corrections as needed."
I am surprised first at how invasive this inspector was. Second at how he i gnored safe practices by not securing the power. Third that he would have t he gall to make judgments on the sufficiency of the internals. Fourth that he would go a step further and suggest he really does not know enough (so w hat's he doing in there in the first place?); get a licensed electrician to evaluate.
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On Thu, 31 Oct 2013 21:25:28 -0700 (PDT), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Home inspectors dance down the fine line of marginal competence in the trades they inspect and acting like an expert. They need to put in the disclaimer that you need a professional to back up just about anything they say.
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On Fri, 01 Nov 2013 01:16:14 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

And they MUST find something wrong to report in order to justify the expense of the inspection. My advise to people who are selling is to make sure at least one switch is broken and at least one easy to repair faucet leaks, or something along the lines, so the inspector won't have too look to hard to find his "justification nuggets".
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On Friday, November 1, 2013 3:54:27 AM UTC-4, Ashton Crusher wrote:

r to expose the breakers; he had to remove four screws to get the cover off ), exposes the wire connections, all the while keeping the main breaker shu t and so the insides of the box remained electrically hot as he did a visua l inspection and took photos? The breaker box has a prominent sticker in it that says to open the main breaker prior to removing the cover.

uld be turned off prior to beginning any repair efforts, no matter how triv ial the repair may seem. ... Missing strain relief at panel. Have a license d electrician make further evaluation and corrections as needed."

ve the gall to make judgments on the sufficiency of the internals. Fourth t hat he would go a step further and suggest he really does not know enough ( so what's he doing in there in the first place?); get a licensed electricia n to evaluate.

LOL. I've thought about that too. With an average house, the home inspection is essentially free to the buyer, because as you say, the inspector usually finds at least a few things that can take $400 of the price of the sale. But if you have a house with few problems, it's an interesting idea to leave a few simple things that you know about, that you can fix yourself later, etc, just so the inspector will find something to make the buyer feel like they did find some things.
The sad ones of course are the ones where the inspector spots some trivial stuff and completely misses obvious major stuff that was readily visible. You see that on the Holmes TV show in Canada.
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On Fri, 1 Nov 2013 05:31:09 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

That's pretty funny. Maybe Home Depot can sell defective washers so we can replace them with good ones after the inspection.
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Thank you gfre, ashton, tra, bob, dgk and the many others who responded. Th is is a real-life situation. I have since found the phrase "Missing strain relief at panel,. Have a licensed electrician make further evaluation and c orrections as needed" being used in inspection reports from Florida to Cali fornia. Even the punctuation typo is present. The software must be the same for punching out these reports.
My house was built in late 1994. The panel has a 1995 City inspection stick er on it. I doubt the young single woman who owned the house before me was capable of any modifications to anything. A licensed inspector evaluated e tc. my house prior to my purchasing it in 2003. No such deficiency like the above was stated. I do not think the 2003 inspector took off the panel cov er. I never went behind the panel cover.
I suppose standards in home inspection have changed.
Of course a person can work with an electrically hot wires present and not always be shocked or electrocuted. But this is about best practices and min imizing the chances of damage to life and property. I am navy nuclear train ed and have zero patience for those who calculate their odds of an accident using lines like "I have never been electrocuted by doing xyz."
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On Friday, November 1, 2013 10:40:06 AM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

n relief at panel,. Have a licensed electrician make further evaluation and corrections as needed" being used in inspection reports from Florida to Ca lifornia. Even the punctuation typo is present. The software must be the sa me for punching out these reports.

as capable of any modifications to anything. A licensed inspector evaluated etc. my house prior to my purchasing it in 2003. No such deficiency like t he above was stated. I do not think the 2003 inspector took off the panel c over. I never went behind the panel cover.

Inspectors here pulled the panel cover off in the early 90's.

inimizing the chances of damage to life and property. I am navy nuclear tra ined and have zero patience for those who calculate their odds of an accide nt using lines like "I have never been electrocuted by doing xyz."
Then you should be able to tell us whether there is in fact a missing strain relief at the panel or not. Every inspection I've had done, I made sure to be there so that the inspector can point out things to me, I can ask questions, etc.
And I hope you realize that "hot wires", ie the main service wires, are still live and there to be touched with the typical panel cover off, even if you do turn off the main breaker.
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On Friday, November 1, 2013 7:55:59 AM UTC-7, snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net wrote: > Then you should be able to tell us whether there is in

I felt the buyer had a right not to have the seller (me) present so he was uninhibited as possible about asking questions and getting to know what sup posedly may be his house. I think transparency is the key to good business.
I have not researched the requirements for housing strain relief at this po int. The panel was city approved. Hence I am left wondering if the code cha nged.
I do not want to argue. See below where I admit I was a jerk on the "power on" point.

Yep. The issue is about minimizing the chances. But perhaps of greater inte rest to the many deriding my point of view about safety: A local friend who se trades knowledge I respect said, in so many words, I was being a jerk ab out the issue of the main breaker being shut when inspection took place. I trust her. You all have reinforced what she said. Thanks to all for postin g your thoughts.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com writes:

The NEC has always required that non-metallic sheathed cable (e.g. type NM-B) that enters an electrical raceway, panelboard or metallic box uses a strain-relief fitting installed to prevent abrasion of the thermoplastic insulation which can lead to an unsafe condition. It is quite common for homeowners to simply remove a knock-out and drop type NM into a panelbox when adding a circuit without using the strain relief (a $0.25 part). It is also unsafe.
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On Friday, November 1, 2013 11:02:08 AM UTC-7, Scott Lurndal wrote:

First update: What Scott says above and a bit more. I called a local licens ed, bonded and insured electrician to get some kind of estimate on the repa ir and an inspection of the panel. He said email him the report photos and he could come out for a free estimate. Twenty minutes later, he's at the ho use. Twenty more minutes, $45, two Halloween Snickers bars, later, he had t he simple Romex connector in, educated me a little in excellent teaching st yle, inspected the panel, and invoiced the charges. He left the breaker shu t, said no big deal, and had his hands on the sheathing of the wires. Secon d update: I feel like not only a jerk but am humbled. All posts read; where people made light of the journey of home selling is appreciated for the la ughs (the best medicine). Pardon for not calling out everyone by name. Than ks again all.
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Forgot to add the extra piece of humble pie for me today: The panel did hav e a modification, adding wiring for the garage door opener and two garage o utlets. It must have been done post the initial inspection of the house man y years ago. The Romex connector was left off this modification. The three breakers were not labeled until I figured out what they powered just a litt le while ago.
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On Friday, November 1, 2013 3:15:02 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

outlets. It must have been done post the initial inspection of the house m any years ago. The Romex connector was left off this modification. The thre e breakers were not labeled until I figured out what they powered just a li ttle while ago.
FYI, GFCI protection has been required for garage outlets for a long time, at least the 80's. So this should either be a GFCI breaker or the first outlet in the daisychain in the garage should be a GFCI outlet. That will protect it and anything downstream of it. Not sure if the garage door openers need to be on GFCI, they may be exempted.
Would be interesting to see if those are there and if the inspector squaked it. Of course if it was an older home, before it was required, then it's OK.
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On Fri, 1 Nov 2013 12:54:25 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

All 15 and 20a 120v receptacles in a garage need to be GFCI and he has been that way for several cycles.
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On Fri, 01 Nov 2013 16:11:57 -0400, snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com writes:

True only if the receptacle will accept a standard NEMA 5-15P/5-20P plug, if I remember the relevent code section correctly. This allows non GFCI branch circuits in the garage for stationary power tools. Such a tool might use a NEMA L5-20R (although for a good table saw, it's more likely to be a NEMA L6-20R).
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On Monday, November 4, 2013 10:34:37 AM UTC-5, Scott Lurndal wrote:

rage outlets. It must have been done post the initial inspection of the hou se many years ago. The Romex connector was left off this modification. The three breakers were not labeled until I figured out what they powered just a little while ago.

I pull covers without turning the main off all the time. It's not that big a deal. And I'm surprised you were missing a clamp. It's pretty obvious that there has to be one when you look at all the other existing wires.
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On Mon, 4 Nov 2013 09:36:39 -0800 (PST), jamesgang

thinks he knows more than he does. When I was looking for a house 32 years ago and bought the one I now own, I saw one with a beautifully finished basement - where the whole basement was wired with 2 conductor iron core outdoor telephone wire, and there were no clamps on any of the boxes. Another one where the basement had a suspended ceiling, and all of the lights were wired with lamp cord, plugged into 2 outlet boxes hanging from the joists.With Cube Taps. Didn't look to see what the outlets were wired with. All kinds of strange und stupid stuff
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On 11/4/2013 3:14 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I've seen similar. Years ago I was doing a lot of work in new housing developments where homeowners were finishing the basements themselves. These people had no clue and thought what they were doing was OK. Hey, I'm only going to plug a lamp so it should be OK.
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On Monday, November 4, 2013 8:34:37 AM UTC-7, Scott Lurndal wrote:

I had another home inspection today. The buyer's realtor was there and ques tioned why neither of the two bathrooms had GFCI receptacles. The inspector looked a little confused (the realtor was making jokes throughout the insp ection, while I waited outside) but added that GFCI was recommended in the bathrooms and withdrew from the discussion. The electric panel was inspecte d in 1995 when the house was built and has an inspection sticker for same.
What I found subsequently is that one breaker in my electrical panel is lab eled "GFI - Garage." Opening this breaker shuts off power to one outlet in the garage and both bathrooms' outlets. None of these three outlets have GF CI test and reset buttons. The breaker looks the same as all the other brea kers in the panel. The outlet in the garage looks like what's shown here: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-Decora-15-Amp-Tamper-Resistant-Duplex-Ou tlet-10-Pack-White-M22-T5325-WMP/100684055.
1. Could a GFCI outlet have neither a test nor reset button?
2. Could a GFCI breaker in a panel be not obvious?
3. Is it worth the $15 it costs to buy a GFCI tester and test the bathroom out lets to see if there is GFCI protection of them somewhere?
4. My best guess is that the previous homeowner had a GFCI outlet in the garag e but replaced it. Should I put in a new GFCI outlet in the garage. Then wi ll I have assurance of GFCI protection in all three outlets? 15 amp or 20 a mp outlet?
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On Friday, August 29, 2014 4:19:47 PM UTC-4, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

or looked a little confused (the realtor was making jokes throughout the in spection, while I waited outside) but added that GFCI was recommended in th e bathrooms and withdrew from the discussion. The electric panel was inspec ted in 1995 when the house was built and has an inspection sticker for same .

n the garage and both bathrooms' outlets. None of these three outlets have GFCI test and reset buttons. The breaker looks the same as all the other br eakers in the panel. The outlet in the garage looks like what's shown here : http://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-Decora-15-Amp-Tamper-Resistant-Duplex- Outlet-10-Pack-White-M22-T5325-WMP/100684055.

An outlet that has the GFCI built into it would have to have both a test and reset button.

I've never seen one that isn't obvious. It has a test button for one thing and would say that it's GFCI on it.

Maybe. They aren't a bad thing to have as they also test for reversed hot/neutral, missing grounds, etc.

will I have assurance of GFCI protection in all three outlets? 15 amp or 20 amp outlet?
That would depend on how it's wired. If the bathrooms are downstream of th e garage, then yes. If they are upstream, then no. A GFCI outlet will prote ct other outlets that are wired after it, but not before it in the chain. Whe ther it should be 15 or 20 depends on the existing breaker and wire. 15A, 14g w ire, or 20A, 12g. It was common back in that period to have a bath protect a garage or vice-versa.
You deduction about what might have happened about someone taking out the GFCI sounds like it could be right, but they would have had to be pretty dumb. Personally, if it were my house, I'd prefer the GFCI for the baths to be in one of the baths. Not unusual for them to trip and you want it easy to find. The garage one could be downstream of that. But if it's wired the other way around, which you think it is, then the bath can't protect the garage. So, for your solution, if it's wired the way you think, just putting a GFCI back in the garage and using it to protect every thing should work. You'll have to pull the garage outlet(s) and determine where the feed to the baths originates to wire it correctly.
The other and simpler option would be to replace the breaker with a GFCI one. I'm assuming that the inspector isn't going to interpret the code to mean that this is a "change" that requires everything on that circuit to now be brought up to code.
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