More blog posts about electrical service and distribution:

  1. How come my generator hookup got tagged as defective by the home inspector?

  2. Is the electric panel big enough for this house?

  3. The electric panel is marked “Trilliant” and it’s all grey plastic. Is it alright?

  4. Why do you pay so much attention to electrical safety?

  5. My circuit breaker won’t reset. What’s wrong?

  6. Why does the electric company want my house electric system inspected before turning the power back on?

  7. Can an electric panel be mounted sideways-horizontally?

  8. Why does that wall plug have push-buttons in the middle?

  9. What are the most common homeowner wiring mistakes?

  10. When should I replace my smoke alarms?

  11. Does this place have one of those “bad” electric panels I’ve heard about?

  12. Do you check the wall plugs?

  13. What is knob-and-tube wiring?

  14. What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker?

  15. How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be placed?

  16. How can I figure out what a mystery wall switch does?

  17. Why are Zinsco and Sylvania-Zinsco electric panels a problem?

  18. Can wiremold be used at an exterior location?

  19. How can adding wood paneling or a wainscot create an electrical safety hazard?

  20. What is the difference between “grounded” and “grounding” electrical conductors?

  21. What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)?

  22. Will a GFCI receptacle that is not grounded still function properly?

  23. Does a home inspector remove the electric panel cover plate and examine the inside of the panel?

  24. Is a house required to have outdoor electric receptacles?

  25. How can I change a 240V circuit to a 120V circuit?

  26. How do I trace and identify each circuit breaker in my electric panel to make a circuit directory?

  27. Why are extension cords dangerous?

  28. What problems does having too many electrical outlets on a single circuit cause?

  29. How can I find out the size of the electric service to a house?

  30. What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers?

  31. Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

  32. What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) not protect against?

  33. What are the right words for talking about a house electrical system?

  34. What does “listed” and “labeled” mean for an electrical component?

  35. What does it mean when I find buried yellow "CAUTION" tape when digging a hole in the yard?

  36. How far away should a sink be from an electric panel?

  37. What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box?

  38. How can I tell if the electrical service is 3 phase or single phase?

How to Look

at a House

A blog with answers
to your questions about

Welcome to our blog!
We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.

   We look for single-strand aluminum wiring in the electric panel as part of your home inspection, but have not found any for several years now. There is a type of house wiring that looks similar to aluminum, but is actually a tin-coated copper, and predates the era of problematic aluminum wiring. It usually has a cloth sheathing, and we typically find it in pre-1950 homes that still have some of their original electrical system intact.

   There is, however, one problem that occurs with the modern, code-approved multi-strand aluminum wire: oxidation (corrosion) of exposed strands at lug connections where the anti-oxidant paste is either missing or poorly applied. The oxidation reduces the current-carrying capacity of the wire and it heats up at the corroded area. The video below demonstrates how we find overheating problems like oxidized wiring in panels with the infrared camera.

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