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#126289 - 07/28/04 05:13 AM What does a "Home Inspector" check for in existing electrical systems?
Joe Tedesco Offline

Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 3325
Loc: Boston, Massachusetts USA
What does a "Home Inspector" look for while performing an electrical inspection of an existing electrical system in a home built during the early 1900's through today?

What do they look for?

I understand that they have an SOP that is typical and one that is adopted by most Home Inspectors around the country.

How is this handled in your area?
Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#126290 - 07/28/04 09:22 AM Re: What does a "Home Inspector" check for in existing electrical systems?
NJwirenut Offline

Registered: 09/15/01
Posts: 816
Loc: Bergen County, NJ
Typical "inspection":

1.) Check for presence of GFCIs where required.

{They always check kitchen and bathroom, but many miss the garage, basement, or outdoor recepts.)

2.) Check outlets (typically with simple 3-bulb tester) for ground continuity/reverse polarity.

{Some inspectors just hit a "random sample" of the outlets. I have only seen one who actually used real test gear and checked voltage drop under load.}

3.)Examine panel for obvious overfusing or "double-lugged" breakers.

{They usually catch things like all 30A fuses in a fusebox, pennies in sockets, etc. Most will take the panel cover off (qualified personnel? PPE?) and look for CBs with more than one wire attached. Naver saw a "home inspector" catch stuff like missing handle ties/2-pole breakers as required, neutral bonding etc.)

4.)Provide warning if FPE panel is in use.

{A standard piece of boilerplate, usually with a web link to pointing to the inspect.ny website)

5.)Examine branch circuit wiring for presence of aluminum wire.

(very little Al wire in this area (NJ), but I have gotten calls to look at something an HI flagged as Al, which was just the old tinned Cu.)

6.)Examine service entrance cable/pipe for obvious damage. Most will inspect the serrvice head connections (usually with binoculars from the ground).

7.)Report any obvious frayed wires, missing box covers, burned cables, etc.

(These generally only get reported if they are glaringly obvious, as I have never known a home inspector to actually go LOOKING for these kinds of problems.)

8.) Examine grounding syatem.

(Generally they look to see if the water pipe ground clamp is rusted away)

Lots of really UGLY and unsafe stuff passes right by a lot of these guys. It makes the EC look like a gouger just trying to pad the bill with unneeded work, when the new homeowner says that "the HI didn't say anything about that"!

[This message has been edited by NJwirenut (edited 07-28-2004).]

#126291 - 07/28/04 06:04 PM Re: What does a "Home Inspector" check for in existing electrical systems?
DetroiterRob Offline

Registered: 05/16/04
Posts: 34
Loc: Dearborn, MI, USA
well, yet another inspection story.....

went and looked at another house here for my mom, this one she already put an offer on,and had contracted an independant HI to look things over...i was honestly impressed, the guy had common sense, and some pretty cool tools lol, he tested every outlet with a nice hand held gfic analyzer, and actually was familiar with the NEC, i was quite shocked when he wrote up the improper grounding and installation of the subpanel in the garage, its an older ite pushmatic...and the current homeowner modified the deadfront on it with a hacksaw to make room for one more breaker....kinda intersting, if i can get a good pic of it ill be sure to submit it. he even found the handful of plumbing violations and cited chapeter and verse on those as well. i was definatley impressed


#126292 - 07/29/04 07:50 PM Re: What does a "Home Inspector" check for in existing electrical systems?
spkjpr Offline

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 226
Loc: Sedalia,MO, USA
The inspector I have dealt with only find numbers 1,2,3 on NJ's list. Makes us lookbad when we find other obvious faults. But most of the homeowners are glad I found the other problems, one even was upset with the HI and threatened legal action against them. On that one I found at least 4 open j-boxes, most were in plain sight!

#126293 - 07/30/04 02:18 AM Re: What does a "Home Inspector" check for in existing electrical systems?
Trumpy Offline

Registered: 07/05/02
Posts: 8540
Loc: SI,New Zealand
I'm only an Electrician, but I do these things for people that are looking to buy a house.
The vendors of the house don't generally like me poking around in thier place, taking off switch plates and generally giving the place a good look over.
Also I've got nasty comments when I've asked to remove all the light bulbs and everything from the sockets, so that I can do a Megger test at the Switchboard.
Tough!, I would like to think that my client was getting value for money.
And I always get in the roof to have a real good look around, and under the floor, if I have to!.
My clients are hard-earned, I don't like to lose them through poor practice!.
Let's face it, these days if you're not young, you're old - Red Green grin

#126294 - 07/30/04 04:58 AM Re: What does a "Home Inspector" check for in existing electrical systems?
Joe Tedesco Offline

Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 3325
Loc: Boston, Massachusetts USA
Thanks for all the comments. I think that your experiences are very similar to others. You may want to start monitoring the comments on the following Electrical Forum on a Home Inspector Board where I have been involved as an Electrical Trainer.

If you look you will find many good illustrations and questions often asked by them.
Joe Tedesco, NEC Consultant

#126295 - 07/30/04 06:39 AM Re: What does a "Home Inspector" check for in existing electrical systems?
George Offline

Registered: 02/23/02
Posts: 380
If I were hiring a home inspector ...

I would expect him to point out violations of the current code.

#126296 - 07/30/04 06:54 AM Re: What does a "Home Inspector" check for in existing electrical systems?
strangedog Offline

Registered: 08/23/02
Posts: 30
Loc: Dayton, Ohio
My mother in law just bought a new home. I walk through before the HI and checked the place out and pointed out a frayed service entrance cable. The outer jacket had fallen off and had been replaced with duct tape that had also frayed off. The inspector was careful to note the SE problem and included the helpful recomendation "install fresh tape around service entrance cable".

The real esate agents really like this guy because he apparently does not screw up to many deals for them.

It is best for a leader to be both feared and loved. But since this usually cannot be done, it is safer to be feared.

#126297 - 07/31/04 03:19 PM Re: What does a "Home Inspector" check for in existing electrical systems?
johnd24 Offline

Registered: 07/11/01
Posts: 66
In Ohio you have to be licensed by the state to be an inspector or electrical contractor.How is a home inspector qualified to inspect electrical systems without such a state license required in Ohio??

#126298 - 10/02/05 09:20 AM Re: What does a "Home Inspector" check for in existing electrical systems?
gfretwell Offline

Registered: 07/20/04
Posts: 9045
Loc: Estero,Fl,usa
Home inspector licensing is spotty at best. In Florida anyone with a $30 occupational license can hang their HI shingle out and start inspecting. I find that strange because you need a special license to paint fingernails.
I am also not sure the "certification agencies" like HACHI are much more than a way to collect dues.
I took the test at HACHI cold and I would have done better if I had actually seen a boiler or oil heat.

Greg Fretwell's Results
Below is your online score. You have completed NACHI's Online Inspector Examination in 22 minutes.
Your Online Score
You answered 112 questions correctly for a total of 453 points.
You answered 8 incorrectly for a total of 30 points.
Your final score was 94 (a passing score)
Your Unique Session Code:
Keep this code for your records: EXPR-0000-0034-51
Please keep this code for your records. It will help NACHI staff verify your test results.
We are happy to inform you that you have passed NACHI's Online Inspector Examination! If you are already a NACHI member, your next certificate will contain a statement about this examination. If you are not already a NACHI member, you can download our application to join today!

If I was willing to send them a few hundred bucks I would be a certified HI.

[This message has been edited by gfretwell (edited 10-02-2005).]
Greg Fretwell


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