I am currently in the process of house shopping. This is my first
house, so budget is everything. I found a nice home in my target area
well within my budget. Reading the spec sheet, I noticed the house was
rewired in the mid 80's. Thinking to myself that this was too good to
be true, I went and viewed the property. The house wasn't perfect on
the inside, but nothing a coat of paint wouldn't fix. It was smooth
sailing until I reached the basement. I looked up to catch a quick
view of the wiring and there was a big old burn mark on 1 wire. The
realtor tried to cover it with his thumb, but I saw it. I went in for
a closer inspection and noticed that it was burnt black! Well, this
scared the *!#& out of me and decided to continue looking at other
properties. When looking at other properties however, I found myself
comparing them to the house I turned my nose up to. Before I do any
life changing decisions (Like buy the place), I want to know if I
should be concerned, or if I should buy the place and have that 1 wire
changed. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
Replacing a burnt wire is always a good idea. I would investigate a
little further and find out what all the wire went to and what the
circuit breaker size is, as compared to wire size. I am guessing the
circuit breaker is too large to supply the demand put on the wire.
Hey, it hasn't burned down.............yet! :-) Then estimate the cost
of repair and deduct from the price you want to offer. Hell, many
times the realtor will have the repairs made to make a sale.
I think you mean "cable", when you say wire, and I think you saw a cable
with a burn on it, as opposed to a cable that was overheated by an internal
conductor, to the point of burning. In all likelihood, it's perfectly fine.
Cables like this are pretty common, especially near locations where plumbers
have been sweating pipes. It's not a big deal to repair, and certainly
should not be a deal breaker. You can even have it's repair as a condition
of the sale
*As RBM said if that is the only thing wrong with the place don't let it
discourage you. During your inspection process you could bring in an
electrician to have a look. Don't rely on the home inspector. If it is a
problem it can be corrected.
Having just sold a house to some overly
demanding people, I'd say that
you should put this repair in the
contract. My buyers actually "respectfully
requested" that we provide them a new
furnace to replace the perfectly
working 20 year old high efficiency
unit! And, this was after they signed
the contract. BTW, we didn't give in on
this one, but they did get manage
to get both realtors and both lawyers to
"kick in something" to finally seal
the deal. I don't believe in making
demands post contract, however, it
seems to be the norm especially in a bad
That would be the first time I ever heard of a lawyer kicking in
something to make a house sale go through. The realtors, sure,
because they only get paid if the deal closes and have a large enough
commission so that they could kick in something to make a
difference. The lawyers get paid regardless and their amount is so
small $500-1000 so how would they kick in anything significant. Hard
to imagine a $100 is going to fix a sale. If I were a lawyer, I'd
say no way, just because it sets a very bad precedent.
First thing is get yourself a new realtor! Willful concealment of a known
defect is unconscionable and violates every realtor code of ethics in the
country. I'd file a complaint with his agency-- and the state realty board!
We got "burnt wire" in our condo when the owner upstairs had new
flooring put down. The first time the breaker tripped in our unit, my
hubby and I were sitting almost directly below where the guy hammered
the floor. Tripped again while we were not home. The final time,
resetting the breaker did not restore power. Each time the guy acted
clueless, "I don't know what I could have done..." The last time it
tripped, I marched up there and asked exactly where he had been working,
which was in kitchen midway betw. ceiling fixture and sink. When the
electrician arrived, he first tried switching the wires to see if the
circuit worked on a different breaker. Nada. He then started pulling
out wire from the outed circuit and, alas, the heavy copper wire was
burnt entirely through at exactly the point where the work was located.
Condo board got pissy about repairs, so the neighbor furnished a
different electrician who rewired the circuit in question. Nice guy.
He gave me the old wire, which had numerous nicks and black marks. Since
he was hired by the other owner, he worked from above and had to open up
some flooring in kitchen. Told me that the conduit was too high in the
rafter space, thus too close to the floor being nailed. Owner denied
using power nail gun, but elect. said that was only way to penetrate the
Two days ago, our AC quit. Have had trouble almost since install.
Repair guy said this works, that works, but it arcs when he does
something else, so it is grounded somewhere. I asked whether a nail
through a wire would ground it. Yep. The guy has also done a little
structural work, sans building permit. I complained to the city, and
the clueless city guy said the guy denied structural work. End of
story. Except that after they did some bathroom plumbing, I briefly had
water dripping from the bathroom ceiling.
Electrician came out re: our AC. Third-hand info is that the AC
cabinet, the ground and the elec. conduit are energized. Power left on.
Another electrician coming out tomorrow to tear up floor and replace
conduit and wiring in the unit upstairs. Owner has had the unit empty,
for sale, for about two years. His buddy, who does the work, said a
couple of mos. ago that they were really hurting. Wonder how much more
this will hurt.
On Wed, 09 Sep 2009 16:24:57 -0400, " firstname.lastname@example.org"
I bet you're glad the idiot neighbor moved out. I wonder what
percentage of DIY'ers are as bad as that one is. I would be very
sceptical of buying an old house that had many previous owners.
For your sake I hope there won't be anymore mysterious problems later.
It could be a minor one-time issue. Or. It could be indicative of an
ongoing problem. You need an inspector with electrical experience to
look at it. A burn mark on the side of a wire could simply mean that
someone worked on it hot at one time (maybe installing a fixture, etc)
and caused a short that threw soot on it depending on what metals were
contacted. I once turned my thumb black when a hot lead accidentally
hit an aluminum ground, the spark vaporized a corner of aluminum and
threw the soot an inch away to my thumb. There was nothing wrong with
the circuit. Now if you saw a two feet of melted insulation, then I'd
The real estate agent should be fired. Total disclosure is law in all
states, and trying to hide something like that is really scummy. Any
building inspection would uncover issues like that, and if it has been
done, you should ask for a copy.
Never assume malice when ignorance is an adequate explanation. I
probably looked at 100 places before I settled for this one, since
interest rates were about to spike. Unless they send the agents to
acting school, a lot of the ones I talked to were ignorant of basic
residential construction. They got used to me showing up at the open
houses with a flashlight, and insisting on going in the basement first.
One of them about shit when I explained to her how a paneled basement
wall was hiding a bowed foundation under a heaved front porch. Some of
them actually seemed eager to learn, at least until the next sucker
walked in the front door and they had to run. There were a few houses
where I didn't even bother to look at the upstairs, and a couple where
the upstairs was remodeled to a T, but the basement was a damp forest of
jack poles and 6-foot pieces of steel, holding up 2x6 joists.
On Tue, 8 Sep 2009 22:39:24 -0700 (PDT), against all advice,
Make a contingent offer, and then have a qualified electrician
inspect as much of the wiring as he can. He should be able to
tell you what needs to be done and how much it will cost. Then
you can modify your offer depending on what you find out.
If the seller won't agree to this, find another house.
Don\'t worry about people stealing an idea. If it\'s original, you will
have to ram it down their throats.
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