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Well, but I understand what Kevin's saying. If he busts a house for no conduit, and the HVAC, electrical and AHJ people all say he's wrong, he looks like a dope. Yes, one can draw a line in the sand and take on the world, but we have to deal with realities and choose our battles prudently.

I'm a prick, and absolutely don't tolerate the, "Everybody does it that way," load of crap. But who has time in a given week to educate and argue with buffoons about every issue uncovered in eight or ten inspections? Conduit is required on that wiring in my area and I'd write it up as wrong. Know what, though? HVAC condensers are supposed to be elevated at least 3" above grade in my area, but I no longer take issue with the ones that don't make the grade(horrible pun intended). Why? Because several times in the past, I've zapped .pdfs of codes to builders, HVAC peeps, and even code officials, and still couldn't get anyone to agree with me.

Does that mean I'm wimping out? Probably a little. But I don't have any powers of enforcement. And if those who do have the power won't agree with me, I'm SOL.

John

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MAINTENANCE ISSUE (MI): The item, component, or system while perhaps functioning as intended is in need of minor service or maintenance; is showing signs of wear or deterioration that could result in an adverse condition at some point in the future; or considerations should be made in upgrading the item, component, or system to enhance the function, efficiency, safety, and/or more closely align with current construction standards. Items falling into this category can frequently be addressed by a homeowner or handyman and are considered to be routine homeowner maintenance or recommended upgrades. However, it is recommended that all work be completed by qualified individuals or companies.

If you are inspecting a home built prior to 2000, would you write up the lack of AFCI protection as a "repair" item or a recommended safety upgrade?

I am not a proponent for classifying things as maintenance. All it does is serve to weaken the point of the issue IMO. If the client wants to decide it's a maintenance issue then fine with me.

Now I know that runs counter to what is even is practiced by the old farts but I just don't like to classify the issues in the report like that although I will freely do it verbally with a client when I able to talk to him eyeball to eyeball.

I really like this model construction by Hausdok.

You don't have a framajam on your thingamajig. If this home were being built today, there'd be a framajam on the thingamajig because the framajam makes the thingamajig safer, and that's why the framajam is required by current code (cite code). Now, there's no law requiring you to bring your thingamajig up to current code by installing the framajam, but from a safety standpoint it would be the prudent thing to do. Contact a couple of framajam contractors to discuss options and cost.

For the cable case you could alter this to say

You don't have a framajam on your thingamajig. The framajam makes the thingamajig safer, and that's why the framajam is required by current code (cite code if you like). Have a thingamajigician correct/repair/replace/protect the thingamajig. The sooner the better.

As to the AFCI, it might very well become the standard of care to make that recommendation but I don't. I know GFCI's improve safety. I am not yet convinced that AFCI's even work.

I have taken to the practice with electrical contraventions of pointing them out and calling for their correction. I do it for two reasons. Jim K. does it and W.J. made a good argument for it.

Jim Morrison keeps telling me to do that. I just hope he doesn't tell me to jump off a cliff if they do it to!

Chris, Oregon

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OK....a few more comments.

The two people in the thread who have quoted code both have stated that it is "subjective" and "open to interpretation." I'm no code thumper, but the general rules for UF cable are exposed cables should closely follow bldg surface. The "protect exposed cable from physical damage" is a requirement for NM cable (dry locations). Underground feeder cable (UF) that is emerging from the ground is required to be protected from 18 in below grade to 8 ft above grade. However, the cable running from the disconnect to the condensing unit is not buried cable.

If you inspect in an area where builders and the AHJ treat this cable the same a buried cable and require it to be in conduit, then great. That is not the case in my area.

Therefore, I stand behind my comments and say that this is acceptable and that all of the national builder, all of the AHJ's for each jurisdiction in MD, DC, and VA, and all other electricians or HVAC specialists are NOT wrong.

But, what the hell do I know.....I'm just an inspector.

Kevin

ps...Mike, I don't think you are a wind bag. It's just envy :) I always have a lot to say, but can't type worth a crap! I guess people might call me long winded if I made the effort to learn how to type with more than two fingers. :)

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Originally posted by Bain

Well, but I understand what Kevin's saying. If he busts a house for no conduit, and the HVAC, electrical and AHJ people all say he's wrong, he looks like a dope. Yes, one can draw a line in the sand and take on the world, but we have to deal with realities and choose our battles prudently.

I'm a prick, and absolutely don't tolerate the, "Everybody does it that way," load of crap. But who has time in a given week to educate and argue with buffoons about every issue uncovered in eight or ten inspections?

Hi John,

Though I occasionally do have to do battle with one of the trades or an obstinant seller or AHJ, it's pretty rare. Folks sometimes talk about how calling something out is going to create this huge hassle for everyone involved, including themselves, but that hasn't been my experience. It only happens occasionally.

Powers of enforcement or not, we're paid to tell the truth as best we know it, aren't we?

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Of course, Mike. Unlike you, however, I tend to find myself in these battles quite often, and experience has taught me which battles I'm likely to win and which ones I'm likely to lose.

You, and others on this board, don't realize at times how knowledgable you truly are. I'm just saying that we can't take it upon ourselves to instruct the trades and code officials about each and every issue that arises during the eight or ten inspections we perform every week. There simply isn't enough time. We have to pick and choose.

I mean, look at my dumb ass. It's nine o'clock on a Sunday night and I'm checking out TIJ 'cause I find this stuff fascinating. How many tradespeople or code officials are doing likewise, you think? We care more than they do. We know more than they do. I can be eloquent and call that a burden. Or I can be myself and say it's a pain in the ass. Nonetheless, it's the truth.

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""MAINTENANCE ISSUE (MI): The item, component, or system while perhaps functioning as intended is in need of minor service or maintenance; is showing signs of wear or deterioration that could result in an adverse condition at some point in the future; or considerations should be made in upgrading the item, component, or system to enhance the function, efficiency, safety, and/or more closely align with current construction standards. Items falling into this category can frequently be addressed by a homeowner or handyman and are considered to be routine homeowner maintenance or recommended upgrades. However, it is recommended that all work be completed by qualified individuals or companies.""

My God. Does anybody have any syrup? I smell waffles!

Personally I'm frightened to hear a Home Inspector use the term "Alarmist"...

Now Kevin, I beg to differ with your statement about Nobody anywhere in MA VA or DC area using conduit, as I've looked at quite a number of homes in VA just outside of DC and have not yet seen one that did not have the wiring properly enclosed in conduit as IS required by NEC. I've looked at homes in Fairfax, Centreville, Chantilly, Manassas... and none were so poorly built as to have sheathed cable exposed to physical damage like that. If they were, I definitely would have made a stink about it.

My sister lives in Centreville off route 29, the entire development where she lives, built in the late 80's is wired with conduit. (around 300 homes) I've been through all the surrounding areas for 25 miles. Same.

You keep saying that you don't know about other areas, but in your area it's always like this and that seems to make it OK. Is electricity not dangerous in your area?? Because it is in mine... And I don't pander to real estate agents to get more referrals. I prefer to walk away with my integrity in tact and know that I'm not going to be the cause of someone's child being killed one day.

"subjective" and "open to interpretation" Protection is absolutely required - it's practically laying on the ground... Do you have weed wackers down there? Of course even if it was ok I'd still write it up just for the fact that I've been doing electrical work all my life and would sooner cut my own hand off than put my name on slop ass work like that.

Just my $30.- (.02 adjusted for inflation)

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Originally posted by Kevin A. Richardson

OK....a few more comments.

The two people in the thread who have quoted code both have stated that it is "subjective" and "open to interpretation." I'm no code thumper, but the general rules for UF cable are exposed cables should closely follow bldg surface. The "protect exposed cable from physical damage" is a requirement for NM cable (dry locations).

It's also a requirement for UF cable. "340.12 (10) Type UF cable shall not be used as follows . . . Where subject to physical damage."

The requirement for physical protection has moved around in the code over the years, but it's been a continuous requirement since at least the 1947 edition (my oldest one). "3003.b Mechanical Injury. If subject to mechanical injury, conductors shall be adequately protected."

Underground feeder cable (UF) that is emerging from the ground is required to be protected from 18 in below grade to 8 ft above grade. However, the cable running from the disconnect to the condensing unit is not buried cable.

True. Clearly, the code intends that, in certain circumstances, it's ok to run UV-resistant UF cable, unprotected, on the outside of a building. But there are limitations on how it can be done and where it can be done. They can't be installed where they're subject to physical damage. The cables in your pictures -- as far as I could see -- looked pretty well protected. They were behind the AC cabinets and it looked like it'd be pretty hard for someone to accidentally whack them. (I'll ignore, for now, the inadequate work space in front of the disconnect boxes.) On the other hand, the picture that John posted showed the UF cable sitting out there with its metaphorical butt on the bumper. Any weed whacker could physically damage it.

If you inspect in an area where builders and the AHJ treat this cable the same a buried cable and require it to be in conduit, then great. That is not the case in my area.

Therefore, I stand behind my comments and say that this is acceptable and that all of the national builder, all of the AHJ's for each jurisdiction in MD, DC, and VA, and all other electricians or HVAC specialists are NOT wrong. . .

Given the wording of the code, I think it's reasonable for those guys to allow exposed cables in some circumstances. That doesn't mean that it should be allowed in every circumstance.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by Jim Katen

Originally posted by Kevin A. Richardson

OK....a few more comments.

The two people in the thread who have quoted code both have stated that it is "subjective" and "open to interpretation." I'm no code thumper, but the general rules for UF cable are exposed cables should closely follow bldg surface. The "protect exposed cable from physical damage" is a requirement for NM cable (dry locations).

It's also a requirement for UF cable. "340.12 (10) Type UF cable shall not be used as follows . . . Where subject to physical damage."

The requirement for physical protection has moved around in the code over the years, but it's been a continuous requirement since at least the 1947 edition (my oldest one). "3003.b Mechanical Injury. If subject to mechanical injury, conductors shall be adequately protected."

Underground feeder cable (UF) that is emerging from the ground is required to be protected from 18 in below grade to 8 ft above grade. However, the cable running from the disconnect to the condensing unit is not buried cable.

True. Clearly, the code intends that, in certain circumstances, it's ok to run UV-resistant UF cable, unprotected, on the outside of a building. But there are limitations on how it can be done and where it can be done. They can't be installed where they're subject to physical damage. The cables in your pictures -- as far as I could see -- looked pretty well protected. They were behind the AC cabinets and it looked like it'd be pretty hard for someone to accidentally whack them. (I'll ignore, for now, the inadequate work space in front of the disconnect boxes.) On the other hand, the picture that John posted showed the UF cable sitting out there with its metaphorical butt on the bumper. Any weed whacker could physically damage it.

If you inspect in an area where builders and the AHJ treat this cable the same a buried cable and require it to be in conduit, then great. That is not the case in my area.

Therefore, I stand behind my comments and say that this is acceptable and that all of the national builder, all of the AHJ's for each jurisdiction in MD, DC, and VA, and all other electricians or HVAC specialists are NOT wrong. . .

Given the wording of the code, I think it's reasonable for those guys to allow exposed cables in some circumstances. That doesn't mean that it should be allowed in every circumstance.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

After John posted his third image of this circumstance, I can see why he would have a concern about the protection of the cable. However, his original question was whether or not the cable clamped to the wall needed to be in conduit.

The answer is "NO"

Kevin

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Originally posted by Kyle Kubs

""MAINTENANCE ISSUE (MI): The item, component, or system while perhaps functioning as intended is in need of minor service or maintenance; is showing signs of wear or deterioration that could result in an adverse condition at some point in the future; or considerations should be made in upgrading the item, component, or system to enhance the function, efficiency, safety, and/or more closely align with current construction standards. Items falling into this category can frequently be addressed by a homeowner or handyman and are considered to be routine homeowner maintenance or recommended upgrades. However, it is recommended that all work be completed by qualified individuals or companies.""

My God. Does anybody have any syrup? I smell waffles!

Personally I'm frightened to hear a Home Inspector use the term "Alarmist"...

Now Kevin, I beg to differ with your statement about Nobody anywhere in MA VA or DC area using conduit, as I've looked at quite a number of homes in VA just outside of DC and have not yet seen one that did not have the wiring properly enclosed in conduit as IS required by NEC. I've looked at homes in Fairfax, Centreville, Chantilly, Manassas... and none were so poorly built as to have sheathed cable exposed to physical damage like that. If they were, I definitely would have made a stink about it.

My sister lives in Centreville off route 29, the entire development where she lives, built in the late 80's is wired with conduit. (around 300 homes) I've been through all the surrounding areas for 25 miles. Same.

You keep saying that you don't know about other areas, but in your area it's always like this and that seems to make it OK. Is electricity not dangerous in your area?? Because it is in mine... And I don't pander to real estate agents to get more referrals. I prefer to walk away with my integrity in tact and know that I'm not going to be the cause of someone's child being killed one day.

"subjective" and "open to interpretation" Protection is absolutely required - it's practically laying on the ground... Do you have weed wackers down there? Of course even if it was ok I'd still write it up just for the fact that I've been doing electrical work all my life and would sooner cut my own hand off than put my name on slop ass work like that.

Just my $30.- (.02 adjusted for inflation)

Kyle,

Relax! Put this particular situation aside and read what you have written. Why would you be frightened to hear an HI use the term "alarmist?" There are many HI's out there that over state issues and call for "further evaluation" on a lot of things that are minor or just about everything they write up. That is a sad fact!!

There is a difference between a RE using the term to describe an inspector who is thorough and someone (RE or inspector) using the term to describe someone who has over exaggerated an issue.

I don't pander to RE's either, and I resent your insinuation that I do.

Kevin

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Originally posted by Kevin A. Richardson

After John posted his third image of this circumstance, I can see why he would have a concern about the protection of the cable. However, his original question was whether or not the cable clamped to the wall needed to be in conduit.

The answer is "NO"

Kevin

The three photos are all of the same cable. The first shows it at the wall, the second where it runs across the patio slab, and the third shows the condenser, slab, and wall.

I'd say that the cable is adequately protected where it runs through the PVC pipe, but that the portions of the cable that are not in the pipe (on both ends) are subject to damage and need to be protected. That includes cable fastened to the wall adjacent to a patio where chairs, tables, a stack of firewood, the open lid of a hot BBQ grill, etc. could contact it. Interpretation of the protection requirement is subjective and will vary by the individual. In my case, I'd be willing to make my recommendation, put it in writing, and give it to the buyer (future homeowner). Would the "RE agent who says he is an electrician" and who says it is ok just the way it is, do the same?

John - IMO good call on the cable. You wrote: "BTW, I wrote up the slabs too and called for a structural specialist to check for possible negative effects the condition could pose on the structure." You should be able to observe any negative effects the condition has on the structure, and if there are any, report them. If they should merit further investigation and evaluation (rather than simply repairs), call for it. But if you don't see any negative effects on the structure, then I think that calling for a specialist is not providing anything of much of value to your client -- it's just passing the buck.

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Brandon,

There was cover up work all over that rear wall both inside and out. A nice job of it too. If there were any significant visible defects prior, there had been a concentrated effort to hide them. It made me very suspicious. I suppose you could call it a cop out on my part but I decided to use the obvious in the slab defects to attempt to draw attention to the suspicion without actually writing how I was suspicious about the wall.

So rather than saying, "This looks suspicious but I cant tell you why" I decided to say, "This is messed up so have them look at it, and while they are here have then check that too" of coarse not in those exact words but you get the drift.

I explained it all to the client in person during the inspection as well. He seemed happy with my "detailed findings", as he put it. He seemed to shrug many things off but in no way did I soften my language when it came time to put things in writing.

One amazing thing I noticed, the sellers agent who I dont know and she doesn't know me, sneered at me with this look of disdain within the first minute or so she arrived on site. I don't even know if she realized she did it but I'll never forget it. What a classic experience for my first job. I think that look put a few things in perspective for me.

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Originally posted by AHI

One amazing thing I noticed, the sellers agent who I dont know and she doesn't know me, sneered at me with this look of disdain within the first minute or so she arrived on site. I don't even know if she realized she did it but I'll never forget it. What a classic experience for my first job. I think that look put a few things in perspective for me.

Maybe she wasn't sneering. Maybe she was biting her tongue so hard that it hurt. [;)]

OT - OF!!!

M.

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Originally posted by AHI

Brandon,

There was cover up work all over that rear wall both inside and out. A nice job of it too. If there were any significant visible defects prior, there had been a concentrated effort to hide them. It made me very suspicious. I suppose you could call it a cop out on my part but I decided to use the obvious in the slab defects to attempt to draw attention to the suspicion without actually writing how I was suspicious about the wall.

So rather than saying, "This looks suspicious but I cant tell you why" I decided to say, "This is messed up so have them look at it, and while they are here have then check that too" of coarse not in those exact words but you get the drift.

I explained it all to the client in person during the inspection as well. He seemed happy with my "detailed findings", as he put it. He seemed to shrug many things off but in no way did I soften my language when it came time to put things in writing.

John,

To clarify -- I wasn't there and based on the info you've provided in your posts on this I'm not in a position to judge what you did in this situation. From your posts I know you are new and I also know that you are a conscientious guy who wants to do the right thing. My reason for calling attention to what you wrote is that I have seen many inspectors (in reports or message board posts) quickly jump and play the cya and pass the buck game on things that should be within the knowledge base of a competent inspector. I'm not saying that is what you did here; I'm saying be careful to not do it.

I don't know the details about what you wrote in your report or what you told the client. Since I raised the issue and to be fair, I'll put what I would have done in this situation out there for review and criticism by the brethren. In my report, I would:

1) Make my observations about the exterior slab.

2) If I thought that the slab was not installed that way, I'd say that the only way it could move like that is if the ground it is sitting on had moved beneath it.

3) Say why the ground had moved, if I knew why, otherwise I would say I don't know.

4) Call attention to the fact that the ground holding up the slab is right next to the ground that is holding up the back of the house.

5) Explain that the purpose of the foundation is to take the weight of the house and transfer it safely to the ground, that movement of the foundation is not a good thing, and then make my observations about the foundation. It is not visible! The footings are below grade and should not be visible under normal circumstances. The foundation wall is covered up. (I'm assuming that behind the white paint is parging on top of concrete block, and that the interior surface of the block is concealed by some type of wall covering.)

6) Explain that even though I cannot see the foundation, I can look for visible indications that it has moved, provided those things have not been altered after the movement took place.

7) Report those observations. If I find stuff, that's easy. But let's say I didn't find anything. I'd report: "I looked for and did not find evidence that the rear foundation has moved, such as windows or doorways that are out of square, or cracks in interior or exterior wall finishes".

8) Now, if what I had seen made me suspicious of a cover up, I'd zero in and provide more details of my observations of those windows, doorways, or wall coverings. "The parging on the exterior foundation wall is new and freshly painted....new paneling, wallpaper, or fresh paint on the interior wall covering the foundation ... new doors or windows... new brick veneer (or siding)....".

9) My recommendation to my client (in addition to telling them to repair the slab): "Ask the selling agent to ask the seller if there is any damage to the foundation or if any repairs have been made to it. Ask about the new _____ and why it was done. Ask for copies of contracts, receipts, and warranties for the new work and repairs. If you are not comfortable with the answers you get those questions, have a structural engineer inspect the foundation and either tell you in writing that it is ok or design the necessary repairs."

Verbally, I tell my client: The agent may respond by saying the foundation was covered in the disclosure documents. Thank the agent but say "based on what my inspector found, I have some concerns, and I am asking specifically about any repairs to the foundation and about this new work that was done. Perhaps it may jog someone's memory."

Ok, guys, have at it.

Side note: From the exterior wide-shot photo, if the foundation had moved, I would expect to see it show up in that glass block window or in the brick veneer on the upper level, even if the parging was patched up and painted, and I don't see it (from that photo). This leads me down the path that this whole business about the foundation may be "much ado about nothing", and it is probably a subconscious reason why I felt compelled to start this discussion in the first place.

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It was funny and I'm cool with it. Just so you know, I ditched the Skillers vest already. I had done two pre sale consultations. I ditched the Skillers vest after the first one.

Now I have cargo pants with pockets stuffed. You should have seen me fumbling through my pockets trying to find stuff. I'm sure I looked like quite the dope. I am learning each time I go out and getting lighter each time. I'm getting closer to bringing the tool bag in, grabbing the screwdriver, flashlight and camera and dropping the rest to be retrieved later if needed.

Brandon,

I appreciate your input and you make good points. I am taking notes. The glass block was recently installed along with all the other make over stuff. I doubt there has been enough time for new movement to manifest itself, if it ever will.

Suspicion, does it ever have any of you balking? A tricky situation requiring some crafty thoughts. What do you do?

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