The Inspector's Journal Forums
Username:
Password:
Save Password


Join TIJ Forums
Lost Password?
Subscribe to TIJ's Newsletter

All Forums > Technical Forums > Electrical Forum >

A hard lesson

Previous Topic: Fuse Box /Breaker Box - Topic - Next Topic: weird colored copper New TopicReply to TopicShare Topic
Posted By
 1  2 - Next 
View Profile
Virginia Beach, VA
Posts: 551
Joined: Nov, 2007
Currently offline offline
  
Thread Start First Page
[#1] Posted: 06/29/2008 - 9:50:30 PM
Reply with Quote
Well, this afternoon I went back to re-inspect an electrical panel I had previously reported as needing fixed. On the original inspection, when in the kitchen, I turned the disposal on and smoked it. Seriously, it seized and started smoking. Seeing that the disposal, and all the appliances were new, I stopped there and went to look at the electrical panel. It was making Rice Crispy sounds, snap, crackle and pop but stopped after a few seconds. I took the temperature and it was at about 83 every spot in the panel I checked. Every ten to fifteen minutes, I'd check again. The circuit for the AC got hotter and hotter finally reaching 112 degrees. I shut down all the breakers and told them to get an electrician in there.

Well today, after it was "fixed" yesterday, I went back in. I took the cover off and took a general look, and it all looked good. The owner (a flipping corp) was there and I asked why the power was secured and he said "just to save power and to go ahead and turn it on". Well, my client stepped forward to start throwing breakers and I reached out, stopped him, guided him to the side with his wife. As I started to explain the safety hazards, I also started to turn the breakers on. All I remember is something like, "although it is very unlikely you never know when something can go wrong". I started to say something else but never got the words out. As I flipped the next breaker, the box exploded on me and threw me back about 8 feet.

I'm not really sure what happened after that except I kept telling people I was OK, the clients, the agents then some guys dressed in big coats and yellow hats. Despite my protesting, I got transported to the hospital.

After being monitored for a few hours I'm home now and I'm trying to figure out what I did wrong or was it just a bad luck thing.

I don't remember what the panel looked like after it popped, but my clients agent said it was a melted mess. The owner put the fire out with a fire extinguisher he had in his car and the fire department did the rest. Maybe I'll go back tomorrow and try and get pictures.

But for now I just thought I would tell people that stuff does happen and not to take anything for granted. I don't think I got electrocuted but I did take a whack to the head, probably from getting tossed. I'd also like to thank every HI I ever spoke to including several comments here about keeping an eye on your client. This was the first time I had a client reach out for the electrical panel and I'm just dam glad I stopped him.

Oh and tomorrow, I think I'm gonna get Rocko and Guito and go visit this "Master electrician" that repaired the panel.

View Profile
Albany, NY
Posts: 356
Joined: Nov, 2005
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#2] Posted: 06/29/2008 - 10:46:59 PM
Reply with Quote
Wow! I'm glad to hear you and the others are ok. It could have been a lot worse.
View Profile
Severna Park, Maryland
Posts: 3650
Joined: May, 2007
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#3] Posted: 06/29/2008 - 11:24:04 PM
Reply with Quote
Man! What a story. I'm glad everyone is ok. I'm sure you'll keep us posted on the follow up. I'll be waiting to hear, thats for sure.
John Dirks Jr - Arundel Home Inspection LLC - MD license: 29827
Maryland Home Inspectors - Maryland Home Inspection - Maryland Radon Testing - Baltimore County Rental Inspection
View Profile
Oswego, NY
Posts: 1923
Joined: May, 2008
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#4] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 01:11:13 AM
Reply with Quote
Safety glasses! I'm not being a smart ass. Before you're badged to enter the local nuke plant around here, it's manditory during the safety training, to view a video titled " It only takes a second." If you don't puke after seeing this,you'll at least be forever changed by it. Things happen fast. glad you're OK

BE SAFE GUYS

I'm Gary Blum and I approve this message

www.gtbinspectionservices.com
View Profile
Samantha, AL
Posts: 1569
Joined: Sep, 2004
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#5] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 08:32:10 AM
Reply with Quote
I glad to hear that you are OK.

I would let the owner turn it on since it was his house.

Have a good day inspecting.
Phillip R. Smith Sr.
Samantha (Tuscaloosa) AL
www.homesweethomeinspectionsal.com
"When you inspect crap, you find crap." Phillip 2010
"Always desire to learn something useful."
- Sophocles
View Profile
Oak Park, IL
Posts: 187
Joined: Feb, 2008
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#6] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 09:46:48 AM
Reply with Quote
I'm glad your OK. Thanks for the reminder.
Rick Sabatino
Sabatino Consulting, Inc
View Profile
Kenmore, WA
Posts: 2130
Joined: Sep, 2004
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#7] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 10:32:25 AM
Reply with Quote
I've never had such excitement in my ten years!

You're so fortunate! In many ways.

Thank you for the tale and its good to know you're still around.

Randy Navarro
http://www.thecompleteinspection.com
View Profile
Columbus, Mississippi
Posts: 3169
Joined: Dec, 2003
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#8] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 4:06:06 PM
Reply with Quote
Dang John, you're lucky they didn't at least have to pick bits of breaker out of your hide. Coulda been pretty bad. But hey, you've got a great war story to tell your grandkids. By the time you're 80 the explosion will have taken down half the house, with you scrambling out of the rubble carrying the family dog in your arms.

I once saw an electrician one day after he got a long screwdriver across two legs of a 480v disconnect. It shot out a fireball on him. His eyebrows and eyelashes were gone, his hair was still swept back and singed around his face, and his skin was very red. He looked pretty funny. We gave him an insulated screwdriver as a Christmas present that year.

Brian G.
Fun With Electricity

www.accuspecllc.com
View Profile
Virginia Beach, VA
Posts: 551
Joined: Nov, 2007
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#9] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 5:24:06 PM
Reply with Quote
OK, just got a call from the buyers agent with an update, The Master Electrician was really a handyman service. But to show good will, LOL, the sellers (remember they are a flipping company) have agreed (at the agents demand really) to let the buyers pick an electrician and repair it and they will pick up the costs. I think this company is worried about me suing them or something too. The agent told me they asked her if she knew if I was pissed off or the like. They also commented that maybe they could throw a few inspections my way. She said they were going to wait a few days then give me a call.

Brian, actually, there is a decent sized scratch/gouge in my safety glasses. Not sure if something flew out and hit it, or if they were scratched after they flew off my head as it went bouncing across the kitchen floor. That dang Navy practice of always wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) is really burned into my head.


View Profile
Elizabethtown, PA
Posts: 621
Joined: May, 2007
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#10] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 6:05:17 PM
Reply with Quote
Glad you are OK. That is exactly why I do not turn on circuit breakers that are off. I don't know why they are off, but I make sure to note that in the report. In your circumstance, I would have had the seller turn on the breakers since he was there. I don't turn on any utilities.. it is the seller's responsibility to make the home inspect-able, that means making sure all pilots are lit, all breakers are on, all water valves are on, etc.
Matthew Steger
WIN

"Common sense is not so common."
View Profile
Swansea, IL
Posts: 1428
Joined: Mar, 2006
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#11] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 6:19:22 PM
Reply with Quote
That is crazy! I bet everyone here on TIJ will be thinking of your story the next time they look at a panel, and espically the next time they go to switch a breaker.

Glad your okay.

I would not say anything to the seller for a few days, let them worry a bit. You know they are sweating it since they said they could throw a few inspections your way.

I never wear safety glasses, but I'm going to give it more consideration now.

Mark A. Perry
www.ahis1.com
www.arc1radon.com
www.daycareradontest.com
View Profile
Newberg, OR
Posts: 2853
Joined: Mar, 2007
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#12] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 7:05:28 PM
Reply with Quote
Thanks for your story, it may actually save someone reading this.

I have considered wearing safety glasses and never have. This story pushes me closer to actually wearing them.

Question: How many of you guy's actually wear PPE when removing a panel?

View Profile
Virginia Beach, VA
Posts: 551
Joined: Nov, 2007
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#13] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 7:35:04 PM
Reply with Quote
The glasses are an easy thing, I actually got some that look like and also work as sun glasses so I get use to wearing them. Kind of a bit more expensive but I don't feel like a dork wearing them. Also, the gloves and boots are, at least for me, a habit from the Navy. Again, spend an extra few bucks an you can get some that don't look horrible. I have found, most people that don't wear them is because of how they look. Other says because they aren't comfortable, but if, like the glasses, you can get multiple uses out of them, they become comfortable after a little while.
Lexington, KY
Posts: 71
Joined: Mar, 2008
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#14] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 7:57:26 PM
Reply with Quote
Glad to hear you are OK.

It's a standard practice I use when working on panels to always have the panel cover installed before resetting any breakers.

If I could afford a thermal imager I would use it on a regular basis.

This is a prime example of why house flipping and handyman services should be outlawed IMO. I blame it on the DIY shows.

Would love to see photos of the panel if you could get them.

KY Master Electrician
KY Electrical Contractor (inactive)
Upstate, NY
Posts: 68
Joined: Jun, 2008
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#15] Posted: 06/30/2008 - 11:02:10 PM
Reply with Quote
Quote: Originally posted by SonOfSwamp


In my experience, the average electrician is more likely to booby-trap a panel than he is to fix it.
You CANNOT be ****ing serious.

I strongly suggest you read the first sentence in post #10.

This post is a flat out insult to the 95% of us REAL electricians who give a crap about our profession!

View Profile
Rochester, New York
Posts: 4295
Joined: Dec, 2003
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#16] Posted: 07/01/2008 - 04:16:48 AM
Reply with Quote
Hi John,

In all seriousness I'm really glad you're relatively unscathed.

Quote: Brian, actually, there is a decent sized scratch/gouge in my safety glasses. Not sure if something flew out and hit it, or if they were scratched after they flew off my head as it went bouncing across the kitchen floor.


How long did it take the surgeons to re-attach your head?

Chad Fabry
StructureSmart Home Inspection Rochester, NY
www.structuresmart.com
View Profile
Virginia Beach, VA
Posts: 551
Joined: Nov, 2007
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#17] Posted: 07/01/2008 - 08:00:08 AM
Reply with Quote
Quote: Originally posted by Chad Fabry

Hi John,


How long did it take the surgeons to re-attach your head?


They gave up trying to fix that years ago, they just put a dab of super glue on and all is good.

Upstate, NY
Posts: 68
Joined: Jun, 2008
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#18] Posted: 07/01/2008 - 1:57:37 PM
Reply with Quote
Quote: Originally posted by SonOfSwamp
In my experience, which I'm pretty familiar with, I've seen more screwed-up sparky jobs than I've seen good ones.
Yeah, jobs done by handymen, homeowners and hacks.

I too have seen my share of poor work done by so called electricians. Some of it by "real" electricians (that 5% I mentioned earlier), most of it by some handyman who says he does "light electrical" work, yet the homeowner still calls him an electrician.

Your "booby-trap" comment was still way out of line. Unless of course your area is ripe with hacks. In that case I pity you.

View Profile
State: PA & NJ
Posts: 3423
Joined: Jan, 2004
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#19] Posted: 07/01/2008 - 3:09:56 PM
Reply with Quote
Quote: Originally posted by Speedy Petey

Quote: Originally posted by SonOfSwamp


In my experience, the average electrician is more likely to booby-trap a panel than he is to fix it.
You CANNOT be ****ing serious.

I strongly suggest you read the first sentence in post #10.

This post is a flat out insult to the 95% of us REAL electricians who give a crap about our profession!

Don't sweat it Speedy. SonOfSwamp regularly points out that the average home inspector is worse than a stickin'-pile-o-crap-on-fire.

Bill Kibbel, Historic & Commercial Building Inspections - Old House Resources
Upstate, NY
Posts: 68
Joined: Jun, 2008
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#20] Posted: 07/01/2008 - 3:38:23 PM
Reply with Quote
And he's a grammar expert as well. He caught my one (semi)mistake in 1000 posts. He MUST be good.

Hey swamp, I like to use "ripe" in that instance as well. I feel it's just as fitting. You can correct me all you want if it makes you feel better about yourself.

View Profile
Virginia Beach, VA
Posts: 551
Joined: Nov, 2007
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#21] Posted: 07/01/2008 - 4:12:26 PM
Reply with Quote
Well, I just got off the phone with the electrician I had recommended to fix the problems and this is what he told me. First he said I'm lucky to be alive and that house is lucky to be standing. He wasn't sure which actual problem caused the box to explode as there were quite a few possible causes.

1) There is a small pool at the house. A pool man was repairing the pool but had not installed the pool light properly. The pool water itself was energized.
2) Part of the closing deal, fresh cut lawn and such. The riding mower had run over the grounding rod for the pool and severed the cable. Pool wasn't grounded.
3) Not at the circuit, but outside in a nice electrical box that was locked, when the pool was installed, they had tapped into the AC power line and spliced in the pools power. Thus both units were running on the same breaker, the one I had turned on when it exploded.
4) One of the breakers that hadn't melted was cracked in the back where is connects to the bus. He said odds are, if one was cracked, others probably were too.

The good news, at least for my clients, the pool motor nor the AC got fried. Oh, and since I was doing insurance inspections all day I could not get there to take any pictures, sorry.

EDIT: I forgot to mention the reverse polarity problem too, like i really need to though, lol.

Upstate, NY
Posts: 68
Joined: Jun, 2008
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#22] Posted: 07/01/2008 - 6:26:22 PM
Reply with Quote
Quote: Originally posted by sepefrio
1) There is a small pool at the house. A pool man was repairing the pool but had not installed the pool light properly. The pool water itself was energized.
2) Part of the closing deal, fresh cut lawn and such. The riding mower had run over the grounding rod for the pool and severed the cable. Pool wasn't grounded.
3) Not at the circuit, but outside in a nice electrical box that was locked, when the pool was installed, they had tapped into the AC power line and spliced in the pools power. Thus both units were running on the same breaker, the one I had turned on when it exploded.
4) One of the breakers that hadn't melted was cracked in the back where is connects to the bus. He said odds are, if one was cracked, others probably were too.
With the exception of #4, NONE of these things would cause a breaker to explode.
In fact#2 is not even correct. A pool DOES NOT need a ground rod. A pool does NOT get grounded. It gets bonded and a ground rod only adds to the items to be bonded.
Also, a ground rod does NOT actually "ground" anything in the way of a safety ground. They serve a totally different purpose.

I suspect a bad panel and breakers. That is almost certainly the cause.

View Profile
Virginia Beach, VA
Posts: 551
Joined: Nov, 2007
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#23] Posted: 07/01/2008 - 6:45:47 PM
Reply with Quote
Um, maybe I didn't explain properly, the motor for the pool pump, not the pool itself.
View Profile
Lexington, KY
Posts: 2580
Joined: Nov, 2004
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#24] Posted: 07/01/2008 - 6:52:03 PM
Reply with Quote
Hey, Speedy,

Regarding the confab between you and Walter. I don't think shoddy workmanship always stems from a lack of knowledge. Lots of times the folks performing the work are just lazy or lack the responsibility to expend the necessary energy to achieve proper results.

The above certainly holds true for those in the home inspection bidness. Scooting around in a rat-shit ridden crawlspace or a 130-degree attic is no fun whatever, but that's what it takes if you want to give your client her money's worth.

Shoddy workmanship says more about the ethos of our society than it does about any particular trade or profession.

Umm . . . not to get metaphysical on a Tuesday night.


View Profile
Kenmore, WA
Posts: 15714
Joined: Dec, 2003
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#25] Posted: 07/01/2008 - 11:36:13 PM
Reply with Quote
Hi,

Regularly finding stuff that one knows had to have been purposely overlooked by an electrician, or stuff that's purported to have been done by an electrician, or stuff that's been ignored by a previous home inspector is just part of the job.

Yesterday's 1969 condo had a 100 amp sub-panel wherein there was so much overspray inside the panel that it was hard to tell which wiring was white, black, or green and even the slots on the bus screws were full of paint. The concentric knockout was broken out around the Myers hub leaving a big open gap and every one of the equipment-grounding conductors were held together with a single little brass crimp ring and then another crimp ring had been used to crimp them to the unused bonding strap so that they'd be grounded to the enclosure. It was pretty obvious that the knockout and the jury-rigged grounds are from 1969 but it's possible that it was painted during the most recent paint job, which is white, because the underlying paint is pale yellow.

You'd think that at some point in the past a home inspector would have seen this and written it up. Maybe one did, because the breakers all looked pristine, looked new, and are free of paint; but I was left wondering what pinhead agreed to replace all of the old paint-covered breakers instead of pointing out that the panel had multiple issues and needed to be replaced because there's no way to satisfactorily repair that broken knockout or clean up all of that paint contaminating the panel - let alone fix the EGC's. Then there's the other nagging thought; maybe every panel in the entire complex is also filled with overspray and the EGC's have been similarly incorrectly configured.

Some days, all you can do is shake your head and wonder how some folks can sleep at night without guilt keeping them awake.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

Lexington, KY
Posts: 71
Joined: Mar, 2008
Currently offline offline
  
A hard lesson
[#26] Posted: 07/06/2008 - 5:11:51 PM
Reply with Quote
[/quote]

... I remember one brand-new house where a toggle switch in a bedroom closet controlled about half the receptacles in the house. ...

[/quote]

Sounds like the switch was cut in wrong. The hot feeding the other rooms was tied into the switchleg of the switch. Easy fix more than likely.

KY Master Electrician
KY Electrical Contractor (inactive)
 
 1  2 - Next 
Previous Topic: Fuse Box /Breaker Box - Topic - Next Topic: weird colored copper New TopicReply to TopicShare Topic
Jump To:
The Inspector's Journal Forums © 2002-2013 all topics or replies that are posted on The Inspector's Journal
are copyrighted material of the original author that posted the topic or reply.
Go To Top Of Page 
 
Pick an RSS Feed

The views expressed on this website are the views of the authors and
do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the sponsors.
© 2002-2013 Copyright DevWave Software Inc.
Find a Home Inspector

Powered By: Snitz Forums 2000