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Electrical Installation

Nashville Home Inspection - Electrical Installation Discrepancies


Richard A. Acree

Discrepancies in electrical installations of residential and commercial properties can come in many different ways. This article shows examples of some of the common installation discrepancies found in Home and Commercial Building inspections found by HABITEC in Nashville and Middle Tennessee.

This first discrepancy involves bugs in the electrical panel. What harm can that be? Well, look at the picture below. Any harm there? How did this happen?

HINT: Bugs, like water, need a hole to get inside the panel.

ANSWER: Electrical panels have concentric circles called knockouts. They are used for entry/exit of conductors (wires). An electrician can literally knock them out to allow conductors to pass through, a great little feature of all electrical panels. But, if they are knocked out and then not used, a hole will remain. Holes in the electrical panels can allow all kinds of bad things to get into the panel. Things like water, insects, little fingers, or little fingers holding metal things like Daddy's screwdriver. All bad things to pass through an open knockout and into the panel where live electricity is located. In the pic above we see the effect of water and insects entering the panel through open knockouts on the top and bottom of the panel. A lot of damage has been done and this panel needs to be replaced.

This next discrepancy involves faulty electrical wiring. Look at the picture below. What's wrong? HINT: Orange extension cords are a red flag during a Home Inspection.

ANSWER: HABITEC does not recommend the use of an extension cord (orange cord in the pic) as permanent wiring. These cords usually come with plug attachments at both ends but sometimes people cut those off and use the cord for permanent wiring. This is a fire waiting to happen for two reasons. Not only has this homeowner used the improper material as an electrical conductor, they have also not installed the conductor into the metal junction box correctly. You can see where the cord simply goes through the open knockout hole in the side of the box without any protection from the sharp edge of the hole. This installation should have a composite grommet, or strain relief, to protect the electrical cable (not a cord) from the sharp edges of the metal box and also to protect the connection of the wires from pulling apart inside the box.

The next discrepancy involves a do-it-yourself installation of an exterior light. Look at the picture below. What's wrong with this picture? HINT: If you can see the romex cable at an exterior installation, it is probably a mistake.

ANSWER: Actually, two things are wrong. First, this electrical circuit probably is not designed to handle whatever additional load is place on it by the additional component at the other end of this romex cable. And it is true, if you can see the romex at an exterior installation, because it is unprotected, then it is probably a mistake, as it is here, a mistake.

The next discrepancy involves do-it-youselfer installations using junction boxes and extension cords. Look at the picture below. What is wrong? HINT: Junction boxes should be used for junctions.

ANSWER: Junction boxes should be used to house any junction of electrical conductors, or wires. But, junction boxes, like the one in the picture above, should not be used to rig an outlet so one can plug in an extension cord. So there is a lot wrong with this picture. Junction boxes should be used only for conductor junctions and the box should be closed after the wires are joined and inserted. Outlets should be housed in outlet electrical boxes with that appropriate cover plate. Extension cords should not be used as permanent wiring. If you need permanent wiring, call an electrician and have a dedicated circuit put in. The installation in the picture above is a fire or electrocution waiting to happen.

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Thank You,

Richard Acree

Comments in this article are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings. HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill and more! In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis. Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at, or call 615-376-2753.

Richard Acree is the author of the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections blog at ActiveRain , WordPress and Blogger and founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors. All are welcome to join and see more blogs like this one. You can also follow HABITEC on Facebook or Linked. Thank you!

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