Tag Archives: electrical

DANGEROUSLY LOW Electrical Wires!

Tim Hance, owner of All Islands Home Inspections, recently discovered dangerously low overhead electrical service entrance conductors that were a clear safety issue at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor, WA. Additionally, these older wires were unconventionally run alongside the home’s exterior and vulnerable to mechanical damage. A qualified electrician was recommended to further evaluate and make necessary repairs for safety reasons.

Proper wiring for hot tubs

So, you’ve decided it’s time to finally get a hot tub!  It’s important to install wiring serving the hot tub properly for obvious safety reasons.  Pictured here is wiring simply run in the grass to the hot tub appliance. Hopefully it doesn’t get hit by a lawn mower or someone doesn’t trip over it!  Wiring should be sleeved in conduit, run underground to the hot tub and have a GFCI-protected subpanel installed within sight of the hot tub and readily accessible.  Also, any and all wiring modifications or additions at a home require a permit and inspection through the Department of Labor & Industries.  This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Mount Vernon.

Open wires

Open wires, like those pictured here, need to be secured and properly terminated/enclosed in a covered junction box or have the appropriate fixture installed for obvious safety reasons.  This is called out frequently at home inspections and with real estate appraisals.  It’s a simple, straightforward repair.  These pictures were taken at a recent home inspection in Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. 

AFCI Breakers

AFCI breakers, common to newer homes, provide added protection to homes in the event of an arc-fault. AFCI stands for “Arc Fault Circuit Interruptor.” If there’s an arc fault, the AFCI breaker “trips” the circuit, turning off power to help prevent the possibility of an electrical event or fire. The video above explains how to best test AFCI breakers to ensure they’re working properly. Technically, manufacturers typically recommend testing these breakers every thirty (30) days. If they don’t “trip,” replacement by a qualified electrician is advised.

“Updated” wiring?

At an older home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, the home was advertised with “updated wiring.”  Unfortunately, when I got into the crawl space and attic areas, I noted numerous unprofessional wire splices like that pictured here which are signs of handyman wiring practices and a definite safety issue.  I recommend further evaluation and repair by a qualified electrician.

Lack of safe electrical wiring protection

Electrical wiring needs to be protected where it enters junction boxes for appliances and fixtures.  Pictured here is wiring vulnerable to mechanical damage, a safety issue.  A simple bushing can be installed in this application to protect wiring and keep the house safe.  Wiring practices like these suggest the fixture wasn’t professionally installed and should be further evaluated and repaired by a qualified electrician. This photograph was taken at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands.

Safety: Secure loose exterior light fixtures!

It’s important to secure loose exterior light and electrical fixtures to prevent water intrusion and mechanical damage to underlying wiring. This was discovered at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island where there were three (3) loose exterior light fixtures and four (4) very loose, dangling, exterior outlets which needed securing. Some of the underlying wiring was beginning to corrode from water intrusion.

VIDEO: Improper Bathroom Outlet Placement

I was unable to test a bathroom outlet at a recent home inspection in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island because it was placed directly against the vanity cabinet, rendering plugging any appliances into it very difficult. I certainly couldn’t insert my plug tester. This is a reportable issue because, (1) I couldn’t test the outlet or verify it was GFCI protected and (2) future homeowners need to know they likely need to make repairs to have a functional MBA outlet.

VIDEO: AFCI Breakers at Electrical Panel Explained

AFCI breakers, or Arc-Fault-Circuit-Interrupter breakers, are commonly installed in newer homes. This video, taken at a recent home inspection in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, explains how to test these breakers for proper operation. The 2005 NEC stated that AFCIs must be placed on bedroom power and lighting circuits; new codes require AFCI breakers be installed for all rooms within the home supplying outlets. As with all property protection and life saving devices, the ultimate use, beyond the Code, rests with the homeowner. Smoke alarms, fire extinguishers and escape ladders are all examples of emergency equipment used in homes to take action when a fire occurs. An AFCI is a product that is designed to detect a wide range of arcing electrical faults to help reduce the electrical system from being an ignition source of a fire. Conventional overcurrent protective devices do not detect low level hazardous arcing currents that have the potential to initiate electrical fires. It is well known that electrical fires do exist and take many lives and damage or destroy significant amounts of property. Electrical fires can be a silent killer occurring in areas of the home that are hidden from view and early detection. The objective is to protect the circuit in a manner that will reduce its chances of being a source of an electrical fire. Below is a great link to some additional information about AFCI breakers.

VIDEO: Dangling exterior outlets

Dangling, loose exterior outlets were discovered at a recent home inspection on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands. When new siding is installed on a home, sometimes over existing (original) siding, it’s important to properly re-secure exterior outlets and fixtures to the (thicker) new siding and perimeter envelope. Securing loose electrical fixtures and appliances is important for safety reasons because (1) it’s important to keep rain out of electrical connections and (2) as wires move back and forth with use, because they’re not secured, they can become mechanically damaged and wiring connections can be compromised.