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Melted heat-pump wiring


Bain
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Going from the condition of the wires beneath and the pitting at the top pole of the breaker, I'm guessing that it is/was from constant arcing from a poor or loose connection of that top purple conductor. Or arcing between the two larger purples. Not exactly sure what caused it but such arcing would produce the localized heat but wouldn't trip the breaker. Maybe they have since been re-secured, but they shouldn't have simply been left in that condition.

That breaker is an "integral" part of the heat-pump isn't it? In this case it's acting more as a service shut-off than an overload device. I don't believe the wire sizes inside an appliance always correspond to our conception of "the right size" for a circuit breaker. Smaller wires often split off from the main feeds once in an appliance and are "protected" by the limited draw of whatever they are connecetd to. You would also expect to see more uniform "browning" if the smaller wires were that overloaded. I'll stick with my arcing theory.

Time for sparky or the HVAC guy.

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That's pretty much the standard set-up for all heat pumps, Fritz. This is a series circuit, so it's okay.

I thought the same thing you did, Richard, which is why I tugged on the wires. Maybe it had already been quasi-corrected by someone in the past. I suppose I was curious about whether it was indicative of other problems elsewhere that I should be looking for.

John

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I know you mentioned the connections were tight. Even though they are tight it could still be a poor connection caused by corrosion. Sometimes its hard to tell by a picture but was there any powdery or crusty looking stuff around the connections? A poor connection will heat the insulation on the end like that. There also might be a motor that is drawing too much amperage.

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No crusties, John. And FWIW, once you start your business, you're gonna catch heat and/or blame for all kinds of stuff, most of it undeserved. The heat pump and its problem belong to the owner of the house, which is why I gently tugged on the wires. I probably shouldn't even have done that.

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"And FWIW, once you start your business, you're gonna catch heat and/or blame for all kinds of stuff, most of it undeserved."

LOL...yep! Case in point last week. About 9:00 pm I get a call from the buyer's agent saying the listing agent had just called him. Evidently the homeowners had arrived home and found the faucet at the bathroom sink dripping and they couldn't get it to shut off completely. Supposedly, they were "livid" and accusing me of either forcing the faucets past their 1/4 turn stops or taking the damn things apart. I had done neither of course and I know they weren't leaking or dripping when I left (or I would have reported it). Had my clients done something while I was elsewhere in the house? Had other agents and potential buyers visited the home in between the inspection and the homeowners returning? Doesn't matter. Even though I'm probably the least likely person to screw up a faucet, it's just gotta be my fault because I was the last one on record to be there. A couple of calls later, to the listing agent and then the homeowners and it was all smoothed out. The husband had already fixed the "problem" and no one actually seemed "livid". So no big deal in this case, other than annoyance at being automatically blamed for something I didn't do.

Comes with the job!

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Yeah,

I was once blamed by a rich homeowner for damaging the pool heater for an indoor pool. I had never even physically touched the thing. I didn't have to. I walked around the thing, noticed a scorced housing where the heat exchanger was cracked and wrote it up. The pool company confirmed that the heat exchanger was cracked, replaced the heater, and handed the rich lawyer a bill for $6K, wherein he called me up demanding I send him a check and threatened to sue me if I didn't pay him. I called the client and selling agent. They called the listing agent and explained that I hadn't pysically touched the thing and had nothing to do with creating the old-age-neglect crack, and smoothed everything out.

I think this situation is very easy. The wires are badly corroded and scorched. Obviously, something has caused them to get hotter than they are supposed to get. What that something is doesn't concern me. I just write it up and refer it to a licensed electrician for correction. I could ultimately turn out to the something with the heat pump, but I'd simply punt it to the electrician and let the electrician pass it on to a heat pump guy if it's something to do with the actual pump.

Don't get in the habit of trying to diagnose everything unless you plan to do only one inspection a day, because you'll find yourself running out of time between job. Just show them the issue, tell 'em why it's not good for the house, suggest how they might remedy it and move on.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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