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How to Look

at a House


A blog with answers
to your questions about
HOME INSPECTION
and HOME MAINTENANCE


More blog posts about electric service and distribution:

  1. When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?

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

  3. How can I tell if the electric outlets are grounded?

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

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

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

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

  11. What is a split bus electric panel?

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

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

  14. Is a bare bulb light in a closet alright?

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

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

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

  18. Where are smoke alarms required to be located?

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

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

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

  22. What is the lock device on a circuit breaker for?

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

  24. Can wiremold be used at an exterior location?

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

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

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

  28. What is an open electrical splice?

  29. Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  37. Can an electric panel be located over stairs?

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

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

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

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

  42. What could cause an extremely high electric bill?

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

  44. Why are extension cords dangerous?

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

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

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

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

  49. Why are electrical outlets and plugs polarized?

  50. Why do the lights dim when the air conditioner turns on?

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

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

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

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

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

  56. What is a “backstab” receptacle outlet?

  57. What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) not protect against?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  66. Can a bare bulb “lampholder” light fixture be installed outdoors?

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

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

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

  70. When should I replace electric receptacle outlets?

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

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

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

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

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.

   Because a GFCI-receptacle at the head of a string of receptacles will provide shock protection for all the receptacles downstream, it is typical for a GFCI-receptacle in one bathroom to protect the receptacle in another bathroom that does not have a GFCI-device. Also, one GFCI-receptacle in a kitchen can protect several others nearby. All the protected receptacles must have a “GFCI PROTECTED OUTLET” sticker on the cover plate, and any protected ungrounded receptacles are required to have a “NO EQUIPMENT GROUND” sticker too.


    Although an ungrounded GFCI receptacle will function properly, it cannot be tested with a three-light circuit tester with a “GFCI TEST” button or most electronic circuit testers, like the ones shown below, because they shunt a small amount of current to the ground slot to simulate a ground fault. Unfortunately, when there is no ground connection the test won’t work. But the test button on the front of the GFCI-receptacle will trip when tested, and that is how we verify that they are alright.



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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