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Clearance Around Your Breaker Box

Having the appropriate clearance around your home’s breaker box is essential for several reasons:

  1. Your home likely has several safety features you may not know about like GFCI and AFCI protected breakers.  When these trip, an electrical circuit providing power to lights and receptacles will no longer do so.  You will need access to this panel to restore service.
  2. As a home owner you may have an emergency that would prompt you to disconnect electric power to a specific point in your home or the entire home.  This is not the time to discover you have covered up the panel in the garage with tubs full of Christmas decorations.
  3. Someone other than you may be at your home while you are away and have an emergency requiring them to stop electrical service to a certain point in your home.  If the panel is covered, they will not even know where to go.
  4. Home electrical fires often start at the breaker box.  Having combustible material nearby only makes things worse.
  5. At some point, you or a family member will want to sell your home to the next resident.  It is important that the home inspector have access to this panel to provide information about the home’s electrical service and identify any potential electrical hazards.

Put a reminder in your phone to take a few minutes next weekend to make sure you have access to your Breaker Box.  You will be glad you did.

Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
405-905-9175
homeruninspections@icloud.com
We cover all of the bases!

Serving the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding areas including Edmond, Guthrie, Cashion, Yukon, Moore, Norman, Chickasha, Midwest City/Del City, Bethany, El Reno, Shawnee, Harrah, and more.

Schedule Inspections Online at:
www.Home-RunInspections.com
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Seasonal Maintenance Checklist: In the Winter

winterhomemaintenance

  • Confirm that firewood #firewood is stored at least 20 feet away from your home (attracts termites).
  • Remove hoses from outdoor water spigots and insulate if necessary.
  • Familiarize responsible family members with the gas main shut-off valve, main and interior water shut-off valve,  and other appliance valves.
  • Check and clean or replace furnace air filters each month during the heating season.
  • Monitor your home for excessive moisture levels – – for example, condensation on your windows, which can cause significant damage over time and pose serious health problems – – and take corrective action.
  • Examine windows and doors for ice accumulation or cold air leaks. If found, make a note to repair or replace in the spring.
  • Examine attic for frost accumulation. Check roof for ice dams or icicles.
  • Make sure all electrical holiday decorations have tight connections.
  • Test all AFCI and GFCI devices.
  • Only when it is safe to do so, occasionally check for ice-dam formation in the gutters.

Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
405-905-9175
homeruninspections@icloud.com

#wintermaintenance #holidaydecorations #gutters

We cover all of the bases!

Serving the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding areas including Edmond, Yukon, Moore, Norman, Midwest City/Del City, Bethany, El Reno, Shawnee, Harrah, and more.

Schedule Inspections Online at:
www.Home-RunInspections.com
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/homeruninspections
Follow us on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/HomeRunInspect2

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Upgrading 2-Prong Outlets

2prongoutlet

Two-prong receptacles, often found by an inspector in an older home, that are connected to two-wire cables do not have the ground wires, which protect people and electrical devices in case of a ground fault. It is possible to retrofit a new three-prong or GFCI receptacle into the same receptacle box without any rewiring, as long as the box itself is grounded.

Metal boxes attached to armored, or BX, cable, which is a type of wiring commonly found in old homes, are typically found to be properly grounded. The armored or BX cable’s flexible metal jacket serves the same purpose as a dedicated ground wire.

If the box is not ­grounded, a GFCI can be installed or an electrician can be hired to fix the wiring.

GFCInoground

The image above is a GFCI that was installed to replace the old, 2-prong ungrounded wall receptacle in an older home. This GFCI must be labeled as a GFCI without an equipment ground.

Simply replacing an older 2-prong outlet with a 3-prong outlet can be hazardous, because the receptacle will appear to be functional with a ground, but in fact there isn’t one. If someone were to plug a faulty 3-prong device into that “fake” grounded receptacle, a shock hazard is very likely. Electricity moving through the device casing would create an energized surface from which a person could be electrocuted.

Another problem with replacing ungrounded 2-prong receptacles with 3-prong one is in relation to surge-protection device, which relies on a solid ground to route any transient activity. The ungrounded receptacle would not be able to protect the device from a surge.

It is permissible to replace a 2-prong ungrounded outlet with a 3-prong GFCI outlet, but it must be labeled as “GFCI Protected Outlet, No Equipment Ground.” Even though there is not a grounding conductor, there is still some protection against shock provided by the GFCI.

The bottom line is, play it safe.  To do electrical receptacle upgrades in a manner that will provide the most protection to the inhabitants of the home, have a licensed electrician who has the proper equipment and knowledge to do it right make the upgrades.
Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
405-905-9175
homeruninspections@icloud.com
We cover all of the bases!

Serving the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding areas including Edmond, Guthrie, Cashion, Yukon, Moore, Norman, Chickasha, Midwest City/Del City, Bethany, El Reno, Shawnee, Harrah, and more.

Schedule Inspections Online at:
www.Home-RunInspections.com
Like us on Facebook: www.Home-RunInspections.com
Follow us on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/HomeRunInspect2

Un-grounded or Open Ground Outlets

ungroundedoutlet

Un-grounded outlets are a safety hazard and are in violation of the building and national wiring codes. They need be made safe immediately.

Newer Wiring
In homes where all the outlets were installed with a ground, any failure of the ground must be corrected by replacing the failing outlet, or replacing and/or reconnecting the ground wire. In many cases the open ground on one outlet is the result of a disconnected wire at another outlet. A wire disconnected from one outlet will disconnect the ground service from all the outlets down line.

Older Wiring
In older homes the original wiring did not have ground wire connected to the outlets. These ungrounded outlets are easily distinguished by their two hole / slot configuration verses the newer grounded type of outlet that has three holes / slots. Un-grounded outlets that have two holes / slots used in a home that was originally wired in this manner and has not been rewired are considered acceptable.

Where the Problem Begins
The problems for the owners of older homes start when grounded type outlets are substituted for the un-grounded type without the necessary rewiring that adds a ground wire to the new three prong grounded type outlet. Grounded type (three hole / slot) outlets may not be substituted for un-grounded outlets unless a ground wire is connected.
An exception to this rule is allowed by the National Electric Code, when the outlet is protected by a ground fault interrupter (GFI or GFCI).

The Fixes
There are two fixes available for those home owners who do not want to rewire the entire house. The first fix uses Ground Fault Interrupters. There are two types of GFI available, one takes the place of the regular circuit breaker in the load center or the main service panel. The second type that is available takes the place of the standard outlet and replaces it with a special GFI protected outlet. These are commonly used in the kitchens and bathrooms of newer homes. Most people know them for their black and red reset buttons. You can even purchase adapters that you simply plug in.

plugingfci

The second fix
In many older homes the outlet mounting box was grounded but the outlet was not, if this the case it is possible to use a jumper between the mounting box and the grounding screw on the new grounded type outlet. This type of ground may not be adequate for surge protectors. (see below)

Surge Protectors
A surge protector plugged into an un-grounded outlet will not operate as the manufacturer intended. When a large surge or spike hits, the surge protector uses the ground wire to take the “hit” away from the protected equipment and send it safely to ground. If the surge or spike is not sent to ground by the surge protector it will destroy the delicate electronics you were trying to protect. The warranty offered by the surge protectors manufacturer offer, is only valid if the surge protector is used in a properly grounded outlet.

Source: www.greatinspector.com

Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
405-905-9175
homeruninspections@icloud.com
We cover all of the bases!

Serving the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding areas including Edmond, Guthrie, Cashion, Yukon, Moore, Norman, Chickasha, Midwest City/Del City, Bethany, El Reno, Shawnee, Harrah, and more.

Schedule Inspections Online at:
www.Home-RunInspections.com
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/homeruninspections
Follow us on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/HomeRunInspect2

http://www.home-runinspections.com/