More Blog Posts About Electric Panels and Distribution:

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

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

  3. What are the most common homeowner wiring mistakes?

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

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

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

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

  8. What is a double tap at a circuit breaker?

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

  10. How dangerous is old electrical wiring?

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

  12. What is a three-way switch?

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

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

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

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

  17. What is a split bus electric panel?

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

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

  20. What is an “open junction box”?

  21. Is an ungrounded receptacle/outlet dangerous?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  32. Can wiremold be used at an exterior location?

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

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

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

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

  37. What is an open electrical splice?

  38. Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  50. What could cause an extremely high electric bill?

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

  52. Why are extension cords dangerous?

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

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

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

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

  57. What is the difference between GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers?

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

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

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

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

  62. What is a “backstab” receptacle outlet?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  72. What is a “while-in-use” weatherproof electrical receptacle outlet cover?

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

  74. Are wall light switches required to be “up” for “on” and “down” for “off”?

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

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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.

   Circuit breakers for popular brands like Square D and GE are not expensive, costing between $4 and $20 each for sizes up to 30-amps, with GFCI or AFCI breakers at around $40. But, if your panel was made by a company that is no longer in business, such as Zinsco or Federal Pacific, replacement breakers are much more expensive: up $100 each in some cases.

   One way to extend the life of your circuit breakers is to “exercise” them once a year by flipping each breaker on and off three times. Because appliances with compressor motors can be harmed by repeated power interruptions, you should first shut off or unplug any freezers, refrigerators or air conditioners in the home before exercising the breakers.

  To understand the basis, potential use, and limitations of lifespan ratings, see our blog post “How accurate are the average lifespan ratings of home components? Are they actually useful?”


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.
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