electrical problems: Electrical Stress Manifests Itself As Heat - 08/27/13 03:50 AM
We all know that electrical stress manifests itself as heat.
With a thermal camera many times electrical or mechanical damage can be predicted by finding something to be unusually hot.  Thermal cameras are excellent predictors!
A fun definition of stress says that it is the confusion created when one's mind overrides their natural instinct to unceasingly wring the neck of some stupid jerk who utterly deserves it.
While that definition surely works for me (!), it doesn't exactly describe the electrical problem I am pointing out.
Looking into a panel box the other day I noticed that one breaker was different.
(43 comments)

electrical problems: The Scorch Looks Bad, But It May Be Easier To Fix Than They Think - 03/04/13 02:41 AM
Sometimes buyers see things that look really bad, because, of course, the home inspector points it out.
Imagination can be a good or bad thing.  We have a tendency to conjure up in our minds things that might be worse than the reality!
The scorch looks bad, but it may be easier to fix than they think.
There could be many things wrong here:
> The wiring could be bad.

> The GFI that controls this receptacle could be broken and water got into the connection causing it to fritz as it wasn't properly shut off.

> The receptacle could be … (36 comments)

electrical problems: Can You Stress Your Electrical Service? - 10/01/11 08:14 AM
When I inform my clients that they might want to bump up the service to more amperage and a differently-distributed box, I often get the question, "Can you stress your electrical service?"
Why?  Often on home inspections I find that the service is underpowered for the load the house will demand, particularly if a family of four or five people will be moving in.  And remember, our electrical use increases an average of 7% per year, so, employing the 72 rule, that means our use doubles more or less every 10 years.
Yes, yes you can!
The house in question has … (30 comments)

electrical problems: Has It Been Like This Since The House Was Built? - 08/12/11 07:18 AM
The seller has been in the house since it was built in 1963.  She is alone and "moving on."  She would be unable to answer a question such as I would ask.  As regards the service cable, has it been like this since the house was built?
This is the main service cable and was brought into the furnace room, through an opening in the floor, and connected to the panel box.
The protective plate does not appear to have ever been nailed on as there are no other holes in the wood.
The service cable has insulation which is placed … (20 comments)

electrical problems: Please, Box It Up For Me - 06/14/11 07:21 AM
For a few months the lights on our thirteen-year-old wall oven would flicker each time the oven was used.  I didn't know what it meant, but suspected an electrical problem.  Was it the unit, the computer board, connections? 
Then during a baking session one of the elements exploded in sparks in the upper oven!  I looked into it and I could replace the element for around $50.  The lower oven still worked, but the same flickering was occurring.
We have been in this house thirteen years.  We built it new. 
Disgustedly I have had to replace every single appliance in … (52 comments)

electrical problems: The Seller Laughed At My Report - 06/10/11 07:52 AM
I think one of the amazing and less-thought about aspects of home inspections is what they do for the seller of the house being inspected.  Without realizing it, items found on a home inspection, that are repaired properly, actually protect the seller from harm and future repercussion.
This was found on a recent inspection and duly noted on my report.
I see it all the time.
There are two problems here.
1.  This indicates unprofessional work.  If it was done here unprofessionally, work was likely done elsewhere unprofessionally too.
I can see this and note it!  But this makes me concerned … (43 comments)

electrical problems: Electricity Is Resistant To Rust - 05/14/11 06:05 AM
The electricity in a house comes and goes.  It arrives, happily flows around the house, and is continually connected to the distribution facility nearest the house via a closed circuit.  It likes to flow freely (don't we all?) and energize every spot in a house it is supposed to.  Anything that interrupts or slows down that flow causes resistance, and its path is impeded.  One thing that can cause resistance is rust.  Electricity is resistant to rust.
Water or rust in a panel box is a WARNING SIGN.  If the box or circuit breakers are rusting, unseen corrosion could be causing … (40 comments)

electrical problems: Hide And Seek Electrical - 05/06/11 06:33 AM
Entering the house and walking up the stairs I looked at the kitchen ceiling and said, "Uh-oh..."
I knew I was in for some hide and seek electrical during the inspection.  Before I even turned on the dishwasher (always the first thing) and unpacked my tools, I was thinking how to approach this one.
Do you see what got me so excited?
There are six new canister lights in the ceiling.  And the original single light has disappeared.
What's wrong with that?
The original light was attached to a junction box which housed the cable servicing it.
I see no cover … (69 comments)

electrical problems: Not Til The Fun Is Done - 02/28/11 07:37 AM
My client was going to be late, by an hour, but asked me to get started because he had a tightly-scheduled afternoon.  This was a short sale.  The sellers were home and a friend, who is a part-time real estate agent, (with all that phrase implies!!) was there to, his words, "make sure [I did] nothing wrong." 
I'm not sure how he would know that I am doing my job right or wrong, but there he was. 
He asked me to go to the attic first.  SO I WENT STRAIGHT TO THE BASEMENT.  Why?  Because I'm good at reading between the … (71 comments)

electrical problems: Technically Speaking - 12/23/10 04:57 AM
Listing agents can be funny.  Some like to show up at the end of a home inspection on their listing "just to answer any questions."  Sometimes they also feel the need to give me a little history, just so I know.
I have been doing this long enough to be able to translate all that.  What the agent is really saying is, "I know there's going to be a list and I want a head's up now before the report actually comes out."  And, "This homeowner lived here a long time and did a lot of work himself.  He is very … (66 comments)

electrical problems: Service With An Old Smile - 10/20/10 05:59 AM
While in downtown Washington DC, inspecting a 100 year old row house (we would call them townhouses!), I noticed something interesting between the house we were inspecting and the one next door.
Both houses had upgraded electrical service conductors.  I took a minute to explain this to my client.  Somewhere I even saw an action shot of my explanation!  Um, an excellent photo!  OK, maybe not that excellent, but I digress.
The house on the right had a conductor that was so old the insulation had completely disintegrated with time.  Guessing, I would date it to the 50's.
My client's house … (50 comments)

electrical problems: "It Might Be OK" - 09/24/10 06:46 AM
One of the shady zones of doing home inspections is marginality.  Things that "might" be okay, or "might" not.  Things that are to a local code, but not "best practice" or conforming to the latest building techniques.  Codes, not surprisingly, sometimes lack behind.  Things that might be fine in the short run, but we know will be a problem later. 
The hardest thing sometimes is how to address such things on the report.  Home inspectors live and die with their reporting.  And "sorry, that was a typo" doesn't fly.  Or, "that wording was poor, but I meant..." is in the no … (38 comments)

electrical problems: The Gaggle Caused A Giggle, Until Later... - 08/07/10 12:38 PM
It seems to me that there are two reasons for short sales -
1.  The house has decreased in value so much that it is no longer fun to pay for an asset worth so much less than its current value.  And who knows when it will regain its former value!
2.  Something has happened to the finances and the seller can no longer afford the mortgage.
There may be many more reasons, but those seem like the two most prominent to me.
As soon as I walked into the house I saw this gaggle of wires beside an enormous TV!
(26 comments)

electrical problems: I Know You Conduit! - 07/02/10 02:09 PM
Walking around the house with my client I noticed that the conduit which houses and protects the service conductors to the house had pulled away from under the meter.
Without a slip joint, as soil settles, so, sometimes, can the conduit. The problem with that is that doing so can expose the conductors to water.
You can see that this conduit had been repaired once.  It has pulled away again.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As this settlement occurs the box can settle too.  Such is the case on this house.
What can this cause?  Sometimes … (12 comments)

electrical problems: "You Not Licensed Electricity" - 05/12/10 07:32 AM
I get a lot of interesting phone calls, some with valid questions that need explanations.  This particular call was interesting to say the least, but with a different intent.  This call was from the listing agent of a property I inspected a few days ago.  The purpose of her call was to try to get out of making a repair asked for by my clients.  I could hardly understand her, but it went like this:
"Jay, I Mumbledeefum, and I listing agent at (address).  You licensed electricity?"  I think I understood the last part.
I am a licensed home inspector.  I … (145 comments)

electrical problems: This Was VERY Disappointing To See - 01/31/10 11:28 AM
I was called and asked to do an inspection on a house being sold by an individual who is a practicing Licensed Architect and Class A Licensed Contractor.  His company advertises "Design and Build."  I was also told the house was quite remodeled and gorgeous.
This could not have been a more disappointing inspection, given the build up.
This is representative of the kinds of things I found during the inspection.  My report was three times longer than the normal report, for having to write about all the improper and/or dangerous things I discovered while there.
Inspectors will notice about seven … (19 comments)

electrical problems: "Nonsense" - 11/28/09 06:58 AM
On a home inspection last week the house had a newly finished basement.  It was supposedly finished by a Class A contractor, who is also an investor.  The common term would be flipper.
The Realtor told me this particular investor has flipped many houses in the area.
Let's call him "Flipper."  Flipper is not using a Realtor - he's selling it himself!
Among other things in the basement, there were many "clues" that the electrical alone was not professional, not to code and done without a permit.  Alright, they weren't clues, they were obviously unprofessional installations!
For example: 
~~  The entire … (18 comments)

electrical problems: Peek A Boo Wiring - 10/15/09 04:00 AM
Anytime you have to find a hiding water heater, there are going to be other hidden surprises.
Here is one.
When I can’t see wiring, and other things I have seen around a house that give me pause, if not fright, I wonder about them, and want to know. I’m like that. So when I saw this cable duck under things stored in a kitchen cabinet, I wanted to see what I could. So I moved stuff out. 
And, after I moved out a bunch of stuff, this is what I found!
Look carefully.  Tucked away in that little cavity in … (16 comments)

electrical problems: The Same "Remodeled" Kitchen - ANOTHER Wiring Disaster!! - 07/28/09 07:24 PM

Yes, it's the same, "Must see!", wonderfully "remodeled" kitchen.
This time it's the opposite side.
This view looks behind the new range and exhaust hood combo.
The white hole on the left is behind the new exhaust hood.  Apparently some Romex cable was dissected and its guts removed.  Those guts were used to connect the exhaust hood to electrical as three individual wires.  I was unable to determine where the yellow cable came from.  For all I know, it came from the light fixture in the bathroom above the kitchen!
But, hey!  AT LEAST ITS GROUNDED!!  And wire nuts!
That … (10 comments)

electrical problems: Another "Remodeled" Kitchen - And Another Wiring Disaster - 07/28/09 05:03 PM

Don't touch!  The wires  might come out, bite you, spark, burn - who knows. 
This house boasted yet another "Must See!" remodeled kitchen.  New cabinets, new kitchen sink, new appliances including a new disposal and -
OLD WIRING...
You might have noticed that this wiring did not quite reach the new disposal in its previous, more complete form.  You know, insulated, together, properly entering the disposal, safely held by a CONNECTOR CLAMP.
Since the cable you see  would not reach, it should have been connected to newer wiring inside a box.  This junction box should have been secured to the … (14 comments)

 
Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) Rainmaker large

Jay Markanich

Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Bristow, VA

More about me…

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC

Address: 12315 Sherborne Street, Bristow, VA, 20136

Office: (703) 330-6388

Mobile: (703) 585-7560

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An experienced home inspector's look at current home inspection events and conditions along with his useful recommendations.


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