More Blog Posts on Similar Subjects:

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

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

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

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

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

  6. What are the most common homeowner wiring mistakes?

  7. How far apart should the electrical receptacles be placed?

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

  9. What is a split bus electric panel?

  10. Can an electric panel be mounted sideways-horizontally?

  11. Do you check the wall plugs?

  12. I heard that aluminum wiring is bad. Do you check for it?

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

  14. What is an “open junction box”?

  15. How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be placed?

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

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

  18. Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle?

  19. What is a lock device on a circuit breaker for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

  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 a Combination Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (CAFCI) and an Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) circuit breaker?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  39. Why are extension cords dangerous?

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

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

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

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

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

  45. Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

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

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

  48. What is a “backstab” receptacle outlet?

  49. What are the right words for talking about a house electrical system?

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

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

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

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

  54. Can a home surge protector be installed loose in the bottom of an electric panel box?

  55. Should I buy a house near a high-voltage power line?

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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.

   The question we are often asked when explaining the insurance issue facing homes with older fuse-panels is this: “But the current owner has insurance. Why can’t we just go with their company after we buy the house?” The difference is that insurance companies are slow check up on current policy-holders and require them to upgrade but, when issuing a policy to a new owner, they want the home to meet their latest minimum standards.

   When a home is first built, the designer calculates the required size electric service based on the square footage and electric appliances planned. Electricity usage has been growing at a rate of approximately 5% per year for a while now and, as TVs keep getting bigger and kitchens fill up with more and more counter-top appliances, the trend is likely to continue, even in this era of fluorescent light bulbs and Energy-Star ratings.

   So a healthy size electric service is a good idea. But 200-amp service is not necessarily the gold-standard for homes, even today. For a small home or condo, 125 amps is adequate; and 150 amps is quite satisfactory for many average size family homes, especially if they have any gas-powered major appliances.

   If we feel that the size of the electric service is questionable during a home inspection, we will recommend that a licensed electrician calculate the estimated loads in the home and advise if a service upgrade is recommended. More often than not, though, they will say that the service in an older home--dating back to about the mid-1960s--is still adequate.

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.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.

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