How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes


Friday, May 4, 2018

Here’s links to a collection of our blog posts about ELECTRICAL:

Which house appliances need a dedicated electrical circuit?

Can a short circuit cause a high electric bill?

Does a septic pump or sump pump require a GFCI-receptacle?

Can you use a light switch for a water heater disconnect? 

• When did the requirement for two 20-amp kitchen counter appliance circuits begin?

Why is there a 3-phase breaker in a single phase electric panel with only two bus bars?

Are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) really necessary and worth the trouble? 

What is the maximum spacing requirement for securing NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable)?

What is the code requirement for GFCI protection for receptacles near a wet bar sink?

What is the requirement for a service receptacle outlet for heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration (HACR) equipment? 

Is it alright to just put wire nuts on the end of unused or abandoned NM-cable or wiring? 

• When was it first required that 240-volt receptacles for a clothes dryer and range be four slot (equipment ground connection)?

What causes copper wires to turn green or black in an electric panel?  

 Is the latest edition of the National Electrical Code (NEC) the standard used for the electrical system of new homes?

What is the maximum number of circuit breakers allowed in an electric panel?

When should a corroded or damaged electric panel cabinet or disconnect box be replaced? 

What are typical aluminum service entrance wire/cable sizes for the electrical service to a house?

 What is the code requirement for a light fixture (luminaire) over a shower or bathtub?

Why is an opening in the wall around the side of an electrical receptacle outlet a safety defect?  

Why is spray paint on the bus bars of an electric panel a safety defect?

When was GFCI-protection for kitchen dishwasher receptacle outlet first required? 

Why is it unsafe to bond neutral and ground wiring at subpanels?

When was it first required that neutrals and grounds be separated (not bonded) on any panel past the main service panel?

What are the code requirements for an old fuse panel/box? 

Is an attic required to have a light by the building code?

What is allowable voltage range at a wall receptacle outlet in a house?

What is a tandem circuit breaker? 

Can I run a window air conditioner on a portable generator? 

What is the best emergency back-up generator for the power outage after a storm?

What is a "while-in-use" weatherproof electrical receptacle outlet cover?

Should I get a lightning rod system to protect my house?

When should I replace electric receptacle outlets? 

Does an electric receptacle outlet in a storage shed require GFCI protection?

•  How does a home inspector use a tic-tracer (non-contact voltage tester) for safety when doing electrical inspections?

What are "self-contained" electrical receptacle outlets and switches?

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

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

Can an electric panel be located in a closet? 

Does a washing machine receptacle outlet require GFCI protection?

Can an electric panel be located in a bathroom? 

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

Why is a strain relief clamp necessary for the cord connection to some electric appliances?  

Can a bare bulb "lampholder" light fixture be installed outdoors?

My spa tub stopped working. What's wrong?  

What is the building code requirement for receptacle outlets at stairs and stair landings?

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong?  

What is a split bus electric panel?

How do I identify a combination AFCI (CAFCI) circuit breaker? 

Does a fluorescent light in a clothes closet require a cover lens?

Does a wire nut connection need to be wrapped with electrical tape?

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

What is the difference between a UL rating for dry, damp, and wet locations? 

What is three phase electric service?

Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?

What is a reliable way to tell if the electrical service is 3 phase or single phase? 

Can a doorbell transformer be installed inside an electric panel?

What does a circuit breaker with a yellow or white test button indicate? 

Can NM-cable (Romex®) be used to make a cord and plug to connect an appliance?

Why do home inspectors get so picky about calling out minor electrical safety defects? 

What is the maximum gap allowed between the front of a recessed electric panel box and the wall surface surrounding it? 

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

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

Can a washer or dryer be located in front of an electric panel? 

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

What does "listed and labeled" mean for an electrical component? 

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

Can I remove a 240-volt range receptacle and hard-wire the range? 

Why do some wires in an electric panel have tape wrapped around them near their connections?

What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) NOT protect against?  

What is a "backstab" receptacle outlet? 

Can an electric panel be mounted upside down?

Why is a fuse box/panel an insurance problem for homebuyers?

Why is undersize electric wiring in a house dangerous? 

Why are some electric receptacle outlets upside down (ground slot up) in a house?   

Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

What is the height requirement for an electric receptacle outlet? 

What causes flickering or blinking lights in a house?

What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers? 

Where are GFCI receptacle outlets required?

When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?

Why do the lights dim when the air conditioner starts up?  

 Does a home inspector remove receptacle outlet cover plates?

What is the minimum height for an exterior receptacle outlet? 

When was the "maximum of six switches or breakers" first required for the main disconnect in a house electrical system?

What is the voltage rating of a house electrical system? 

Why are old electrical components not always "grandfathered" as acceptable by home inspectors?

When was the current receptacle/outlet spacing of 12-feet first required? 

What is tinned copper wiring?

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

*  Can a dishwasher be wired to a kitchen counter small appliance receptacle circuit?

Does an electric water heater require a disconnect?  

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

Why are electrical outlets and plugs polarized? 

What happens when you press the "TEST" button on a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

How many electrical receptacles (outlets) are required in a hallway?  

What is a conduit body or condulet? 

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

What problems does having too many electric receptacle outlets on a single circuit cause? 

What is a luminaire?

How can extension cords become dangerous? 

What could cause an extremely high electric bill?

Can old electrical wiring go bad inside a wall? 

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

What size generator do I need to run my submersible well pump? 

Are wall light switches required be "up" for "on" and "down" for "off”?

What are the code requirements for NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable or Romex®) in an attic? 

Is a house required to have outdoor electric receptacle outlets?

What would cause half of a double-wide mobile home to lose electric power? 

Is a three-light tester dependable for checking receptacle outlets for wiring problems?

What is the difference between the electric service to a mobile home and a site built home? 

Why is there a wall switch next to the furnace or indoor unit of the air conditioner in the garage?

What is a Dual Function Circuit Interrupter (DFCI)? 

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

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

What is the difference between "grounded" and "grounding" electrical conductors? 

What does it mean when a wire is "overstripped" at a circuit breaker?

Why is there a GFCI breaker in the electric panel for the bathroom shower light and exhaust fan?

Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?  

What is an open electrical splice?

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

What is a false ground, bootleg ground, or cheated ground receptacle? 

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

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

Can wiremold be used at an exterior location?

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

Who is the manufacturer of those "bad" electric panels?

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

What is a lock device on a circuit breaker for?

Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle? 

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

What is the switch on the wall with two pushbuttons? 

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

How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be spaced?  

How far above a kitchen countertop do electrical outlets have to be?

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

How high above the floor do electric outlets/receptacles in a garage have to be?

How far apart should electric receptacles be spaced in a bathroom? 

Do any pre-1960 houses have aluminum wiring?

What is the gooey stuff on some of the wire connections in the electric panel? 

How is it possible to provide both GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) and CAFCI (Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) protection for kitchen and laundry circuits?

How much does it cost to rewire a house?  

Is an ungrounded electric receptacle outlet dangerous?

What is an "open junction box"? 

What is a "missing twistout" at an electric panel?

My bathroom electric receptacle/outlet is dead and there are no tripped breakers in the electric panel. What's wrong?  

Can an electric panel be mounted sideways-horizontally?

What are the clearance requirements for an overhead electric service drop that is directly over or near a swimming pool? 

What is a three-way switch?

How dangerous is old electrical wiring? 

What is a double tap at a circuit breaker?

What is a ground wire? 

Is a bare bulb light in a closet alright? 

What is the right electric wire size for a circuit breaker in an electric panel?

What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker? 

What are the most common homeowner electrical wiring mistakes?

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

My GFCI reset button is hard to push and won't reset. What's wrong?

Is there an adapter that can be placed on a two-slot receptacle to make it safe? 

How do the new tamper-resistant electric outlets work?

My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong? 

Why is there no bathroom electric receptacle in this old house?

How can I tell if the electric receptacle outlets are grounded? 

Why can't I put a chandelier over the spa tub in my master bath? It would look wonderful!

I heard that aluminum wiring is bad. How do you check for aluminum wiring? 

How far apart should the electrical receptacles be placed?

How does a home inspector check the ceiling fans? 

Why did my generator hookup get tagged as defective by the home inspector?

What is "knob and tube" wiring? 

What are the most common problems/defects found with electric receptacle outlets during a home inspection?

What is the right size electric panel for a house? 

 The electric panel is marked "Trilliant" and it's all grey plastic. Is it alright?

• Does a home inspector expect the  electrical system of an older house to meet current code standards? 

• Can electric receptacle outlets be spaced closer than the 6-foot code requirement?

• Are light switches required to be grounded? 

• What is the minimum overhead electric service drop height/clearance to a house? 

• Is a refrigerator required to have its own dedicated circuit? 

• Can old electrical wiring increase my electric bill? 

• What do I need to know about buying a whole house surge protector?

• Why is an undersized wire between a circuit breaker and a whole-house surge protector device acceptable?  

• Can the disconnect box be mounted directly on a heat pump or air conditioning condenser?

• What's the box that's marked "Power Save" or "Power-Saver" next to the electric panel do? 

• What is the minimum size electric service to a mobile/manufactured home?

• Can I run an electric power cord or extension cord through the wall? 

What is the code requirement for receptacle outlets in a closet?

• Can an electric panel be mounted over stairs? 

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

 When did knob and tube wiring stop being used in homes? 

Is knob and tube wiring illegal?

What does the new Florida smoke alarm law require?

When was pool bonding first required by code?  

What is the box on the wall that says "LOAD MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS”? 

• Can anything else be attached to a service mast for overhead electric service besides the service cables? 

• How does a three-way switch work?

What is the main bonding jumper and where do it find it in an electric panel? 

• Why does running a power cord behind the wall for a wall-mounted TV violate the electrical code? 

• When did metal water pipe become no longer allowed as the only ground for a house electrical system? 

• Why is the National Electrical Code (NEC) so hard to understand and complicated? 

• Why is there no main shut-off breaker in my electric panel? 

• Does a home inspector check every electrical receptacle outlet in a house? 

• Can circuit breakers be installed upside-down, with the breaker "ON" in the down position? 

• What is the NEC disconnect requirement for permanently connected appliances rated at not over 300 volt-amperes (watts) or 1/8 horsepower? 

• What is minimum code requirement for switched lighting in a house? 

What is the average life expectancy of the electrical components of a house? 

• What is the electrical "service point" of a house? 

• When was metal water pipe banned as the sole ground electrode for a house electrical system? 

• What is an electrical dead front? 

• Do nearby high-voltage power lines a lower home’s value? 

• What are the code requirements for light fixtures in a closet? 

• Where is AFCI required for outlets in a house? 

• What is the difference between single-phase and three-phase electric service? 

• What is the minimum clearance under an electrical service drip loop of a house? 

• Is all cloth wiring dangerous? 

What is code for receptacle outlet spacing?

When did they stop using aluminum wiring? 

Is tinned copper wire safe? 

• Which rooms in a house require switched lights per code?

Can you run exposed NM-cable (Romex) in a garage? 

• What is a three-way switch used for? 

• What do ground wires look like? 

• Does a home inspector check the security alarm system? 

• Does a wall or window air conditioner need a dedicated circuit? 

 Is a doorbell required by code for a house? 

 Why is a leaning electrical service mast dangerous? 

• Are bare-bulb light fixtures (lamp holders) legal by code? 

What is a classified circuit breaker? 

• Is it hard to sell a house near a high-voltage power line? 

• What is the fireman’s switch emergency disconnect requirement for residential electrical service? 

• What is the code minimum height for an electrical panel? 

What is an electrical service drop? 

• What is an electrical subpanel? 

Do residential homes have single-phase or three-phase service? 

• What is code for bathroom receptacle outlet spacing?

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