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Does a home inspector check for dedicated circuits?
Sunday, July 10, 2022
Verifying that appliances that require a dedicated circuit (called “single outlet circuit” by codes) are actually on their own separate circuit is not required by the Standards of Practice of the two major national home inspector associations or the State of Florida. However some inspectors, including us, do come across circuits that should be dedicated and aren’t, or are dedicated, but have the wrong size breaker for the rating of the appliance—and call out the defect. Here’s three common examples:
•• Dishwasher on kitchen appliance circuit - It’s standard for a home inspector to turn on the dishwasher at the beginning of an inspection and let it run it through a single cycle to check for leaks or other problems. If, when we come by later and pop a kitchen counter GFCI-receptacle to test it and the dishwasher shuts off, that means it is on one of the two required GFCI kitchen appliance circuits, which is not allowed. The dishwasher must have its own circuit. We typically find this in old house flips.
Both the combo microwave/range-hood-fan and disposal are also not supposed to be on the kitchen appliance circuit, because they are mounted in place and not a countertop appliance. But we usually don’t check them unless we find the diswasher on an appliance circuit.
•• Window/wall air conditioner rated for “single outlet circuit” only - When a 120-volt wall/window air conditioner is about 10,000 BTU or more, it draws too much amperage to be plugged into a duplex receptacle on a general purpose circuit with other receptacles. So the manufacturer states in big, capital letters on a sticker at the side of the unit “USE ON SINGLE OUTLET CIRCUIT ONLY.” If we see that sticker, and the unit is on a regular duplex receptacle, it’s one more safety defect to write up.
The code basis for the requirement is that most general purpose wall receptacle outlets that you would plug a window air conditioner into are rated at 15 amps. The National Electrical Code (NEC) requires that any cord-and-plug connected appliance that is fastened in place be limited to 50% of the rating of a multiple outlet circuit to which it is connected. So a 120-volt wall/window air conditioner with a rating of over 7.5 amps, which is one about 10,000 BTU or more, would need its own circuit.
•• Breaker for air conditioner condenser circuit too large - When a homeowner has their a/c system replaced, the new condenser (outdoor unit) is typically more energy efficient than the old one. So it draws less amps to do the same amount of cooling. The manufacturer specifies a maximum breaker size in the data plate at the side of the unit, and it is usually about twice the amperage draw while running (RLA). It is not unusual for the maximum breaker size to drop by 10-amps or more. If the installer is lazy and doesn’t change out the breaker, then it’s another safety defect we write up.
Also see Which house appliances need a dedicated electrical circuit? and What makes a house fail the home inspection and Are there any minimum inspection standards that a Florida licensed home inspector must meet?
Click on any of the links below to read other articles about what is required to be included, or not, in a home inspection:
AFCI •• Air conditioner •• Ants •• Appliance recalls •• Appliance testing •• Attic •• Awnings •• Barns and ag blgs. •• Bathroom exhaust fan •• Bonding •• Carpet •• Ceiling fans •• Central vacuum •• Chimneys •• Chinese drywall •• Clothes dryer •• Dryer exhaust •• CO alarms •• Code violations •• Condemn a house •• Crawl space •• Detached carport •• Detached garage •• Dishwasher •• Docks •• Doors •• Electrical •• Electrical panel •• Electromagnetic radiation •• Fences •• Fireplaces Furnace •• Garbage disposal •• Generator •• GFCIs •• Gutters •• Ice maker •• Inspect in the rain •• Insulation •• Insurance •• Interior Finishes •• Grading & drainage •• Lead paint •• Level of thoroughness •• Lift carpet •• Low voltage wiring •• Microwave •• Mold •• Move things •• Help negotiate •• Not allowed •• Outbuildings •• Paint •• Permits •• Pilot lights •• Plumbing •• Plumbing under slab •• Pools •• Questions won't answer •• Radon •• Range/cooktop •• Receptacle outlet •• Refrigerator •• Reinspection •• Remove panel cover •• Repairs •• Repair estimates •• Retaining walls •• Roaches •• Rodents •• Roof •• Screens •• Seawalls •• Septic loading dye test •• Septic tank •• Sewer lines •• Shower pan leak test •• Shutters •• Sinkholes •• Smoke alarms •• Solar panels •• Specify repairs •• Sprinklers •• Termites •• Toilets •• Trees •• Troubleshooting •• Wall air conditioners •• Walk roof •• Washing machine •• Water heater •• Water pressure •• Water shut-offs •• Main water shut-off •• Water softener •• Water treatment systems •• Well •• Windows •• Window/wall air conditioners •• Window blinds •• Wiring
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