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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.

    It is beyond the scope of our work as home inspectors to determine whether a particular manufacturer’s breaker is approved for installation in another manufacturer’s panel. But, when we come across an older panel with a jumble of different brands and ages of breakers that we are pretty sure are not all rated for use in that panel, we put a note in the report something like this:

“This panel has circuit breakers in use that are not manufactured by the company that manufactured the panel itself. Panel manufacturers void their warranty when this occurs, it may also void the UL listing of the panel, and could result in property loss or injury due to failure of the equipment. We recommend evaluation by a licensed electrician and repair as necessary.”

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.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection

More blogs about electrical service and distribution:

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

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

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

  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. What is the life expectancy of a circuit breaker?

  7. How dangerous is old electrical wiring?

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

  9. Why does the electric company want my house electric system inspected before turning the power back on?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  19. Can wiremold be used at an exterior location?

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

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

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

  23. Why is an old fuse panel dangerous?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  31. Can an electric panel be located over stairs?

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

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

  34. Why are extension cords dangerous?

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

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

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

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

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

  40. Why are old electrical systems not always “grandfathered” as acceptable by home inspectors?

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

  42. Where are GFCI receptacle outlets required?

  43. When were GFCI receptacle outlets first required?

  44. What is the height requirement for an electric receptacle outlet?

  45. Why are some electric receptacle outlets upside down (ground slot up) in a house?

  46. What is a “backstab” receptacle outlet?

  47. What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit interrupter NOT protect against?

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

  49. Can an NM-cable be used to make a cord and plug to connect an appliance?

  50. What is three phase electric service?

  51. What is the difference between a UL rating for dry, damp, and wet locations?

  52. My spa tub stopped working. What’s wrong?

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

  54. What are “self-contained” electrical receptacles and switches?

  55. When should I replace electric receptacle outlets?

  56. Should I get a lightning rod system to protect my house?

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

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

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

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

  61. Is it alright to just put wire nuts on the end of unused or abandoned NM-cable or wiring?

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