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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  9. How dangerous is old electrical wiring?

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

  11. What is knob-and-tube wiring?

  12. What are the most common homeowner wiring mistakes?

  13. What is a split bus electric panel?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  21. What is an “open junction box”?

  22. Is an ungrounded receptacle/outlet dangerous?

  23. Where are smoke alarms required to be located?

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

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

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

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

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

  31. Can wiremold be used at an exterior location?

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

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

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

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

  36. What is an open electrical splice?

  37. Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  45. Can an electric panel be located over stairs?

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

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

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

  49. What could cause an extremely high electric bill?

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

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

  52. What causes flickering or blinking lights in a house?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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