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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.

More blog posts about electric service and distribution:

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

  2. How can I tell if the electric outlets are grounded?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  10. What is a split bus electric panel?

  11. What is the right electric wire size for a home?

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

  13. Is a bare bulb light in a closet alright?

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

  15. My bathroom electric receptacle/outlet is dead, and there is no tripped breaker in the electric panel. What’s wrong?

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

  17. Where are smoke alarms required to be located?

  18. What is the switch on the wall with only two pushbuttons for?

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

  20. Will the electric company remove branches rubbing against the overhead service lines to my home?

  21. What is the lock device on a circuit breaker for?

  22. Can multiple neutral or ground wires be secured under the same terminal in an electric panel?

  23. Can wiremold be used at an exterior location?

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

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

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

  27. What is an open electrical splice?

  28. Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?

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

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

  31. What is the difference between a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?

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

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

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

  35. What are the most common defects with over-the-range microwaves?

  36. Can an electric panel be located over stairs?

  37. Does a GFCI-receptacle that is not grounded still function properly?

  38. Is a house required to have outdoor electric outlets?

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

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

  41. Why are extension cords dangerous?

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

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

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

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

  46. Why are electrical outlets and plugs polarized?

  47. Why does painting an electric receptacle (outlet) make it unsafe?

  48. When was the three slot (grounding) outlet/receptacle first required?

  49. Why are old electric components not always “grandfathered” as acceptable by home inspectors?

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

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

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

  53. What is a “backstab” receptacle outlet?

  54. What is the color code for NM cable (Romex®) sheathing?

  55. What is the minimum clearance of overhead electric service drop wires above a house roof?

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

  57. Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit?

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

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

    All other attics need protection within 6-feet of the attic opening, and this is the typical situation. The simple way to protect the cables is to run 1x2 or larger wood “guard strips” on both sides of the cable, as shown in the diagram below.

    Where the cables are installed parallel to the sides of attic floor joists, rafters, or studs, no protection is necessary. Also, you can alternately choose to protect the cables by running them through bored holes in the side of the attic joists, but the bore holes must be sized and located to comply with requirements necessary to avoid structurally weakening the joists—which is a whole new can of worms. Plus, engineered structural members such as the bottom chord of roof trusses cannot be bored without an engineer’s approval. So we most often see guard strips installed.

    One other way that NM-cables in an attic become damaged is when a homeowner lays down boards or pieces of plywood directly over the cables, compressing them against the top of attic floor joists. The edge of a board over a cable is especially problematic, because it tends to cut into the cable a little deeper each time the board is walked or crawled over. In the photo below, one cable is running under the plywood placed next to the attic scuttle opening and another one is located perfectly to be tripped over when entering the attic.

    Whenever walk boards are installed, the joists should be notched just enough to create a pocket for the cables to sit in (where notching is acceptable) before the walk boards are laid down, or guard strips can be run on top of the walk boards, or the cables can be routed around the area.

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.
©2016 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection -


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