More Blog Posts on Similar Subjects:

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

  2. Can old electrical wiring go bad inside a wall?

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

  4. When should I replace my smoke alarms?

  5. How much does it cost to rewire a house?

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

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

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

  9. How do the new tamper-resistant electric receptacles work?

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

  11. What is a “missing twistout” at an electric panel?

  12. Is an ungrounded receptacle/outlet dangerous?

  13. What is an “open junction box”?

  14. Are carbon monoxide alarms required to be installed in Florida?

  15. What is reversed polarity at an outlet/receptacle? Why is it dangerous?

  16. Why does the bedroom have a light switch but there is no light in the ceiling?

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

  18. What are those strange looking wall switches in houses from the 1950s and 1960s?

  19. How far apart should electric receptacle outlets be placed in a garage?

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

  21. What is the life expectancy of electrical wiring in a house?

  22. What are the most common electrical defects found in a home inspection?

  23. Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?

  24. What does it mean when a wire is “overstripped” at a circuit breaker?

  25. How can I tell if a receptacle/outlet is tamper resistant?

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

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

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

  29. What could cause an extremely high electric bill?

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

  31. Why are extension cords dangerous?

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

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

  34. What happens when you press the “TEST” button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

  35. How many electric receptacles (outlets) are required in a hallway?

  36. Why are some electric receptacles/outlets upside down (ground slot up) in a house?

  37. Why is undersize electric wiring in a house dangerous?

  38. Why is a fuse box an insurance problem for homebuyers?

  39. What is a “backstab” receptacle outlet?

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

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

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

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

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

  45. Can a bare bulb “lampholder” light fixture be installed outdoors?

  46. When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

  47. What is the difference between an electrical receptacle, an outlet, and a plug?

How to Look

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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.

air, sometimes the only way we know that it’s aluminum wire is the presence of the black or gray anti-oxidant goo, like in the photo below.

   If you peek inside the electric panel in a pre-1960 home—which, by the way, we do not recommend unless you are looking over the shoulder of a home inspector or professional electrician—it may appear that some of the larger, multi-strand wires are aluminum, based on the silver color of the wire strands, like the two wires connected to the lugs in the photo below.

   But these wires are actually tin-coated copper, which was used up until the mid-1950s or so. If the insulation is rubber with an embedded cloth sheathing, the wires are definitely tinned copper and, if you look closely at the exposed metal at the connection to the lug or circuit breaker, you can usually see little gleaming flecks of copper color where the wire has been nicked when the insulation was stripped back.

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.
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