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I need help

Chad Fabry

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I just finished inspecting a petri dish that the realtor called a nice 3 bedroom ranch. The place has multiple roof leaks, no rain hoods on the attic vents, the soffit vents are all blocked and there's no fewer than 7 active plumbing leaks. The basement had the kind of mold that waves as you walk by.

To my question: The electrical service is a fuse box with eight circuits. The panel had no ID on it so don't ask me. It's rated at 100amps, and there's two main breakers. Sevice comes into one and then is jumpered to the other. There are cartridge style fuses in the mains rated at 60 amps each,(two in each main) and the panel is grounded to a copper water pipe about twenty feet away. The water pipe is not jumpered at the meter and the meter is installed w/ dielectric unions. There is no other ground.

The lower main is double tapped to a 60 amp sub panel that feeds the dryer. Th SE entry cable is abraded through the outer layer of insulation on the outside of the house and about half of the outlets in the house have no power to them. Scorch marks on the panel front above the main.

Should I recommend that the service be disconnected until repairs can be done? There are also flying splices in the attic, THN wiring entering metal boxes, and two places where the staples have exposed conductors on the NM. Oddly, no blown fuses.

I'm too new for these kind of problems, I need help.

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I'm not sure I entirely follow all of that, but it sounds like a genuine disaster in general, lots of issues. I think if I were in your position I would make that recommendation, on the simple basis of CYA if nothing else. When in doubt on electrical, ALWAYS opt for the cautious route for yourself. If they choose to ignore you, fine...it's their hiney then, not yours.

Brian G.

Electricity Kills, Plumbing Doesn't [:-skull]

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Do you have pictures?

I've never seen mold wave, maybe I lead a sheltered life.

If I found what you are describing I would default to further evaluation required .

Sounds like an inspection from hell and I use my limitation clauses to it fullest.

As a final word.

I generally turn to my client and inform them that I knock off $40.00 on a repeat inspection, the price of the report.

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Hi Chad:

I hate houses like that. Where do you start and where do you stop. I always come home from one of those, rewinding items in my mind, and always end up with an aching noggin. Sometimes you feel like saying House should be razed and property would be best suited as a parking lot.

To the electrical question: State what was observed, stress the most blatent safety hazards and punt. After that it is up to them.

Btw, nice to see your getting inspections under your belt!

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Sometimes you come home from an inspection like that bogged down in every bit of minutiae and you lose all focus. When I run into an electrical system like that I generally say something like: The electrical system is overloaded and dangerous. A qualified electrician must be employed to evaluate the system now and provide you with an estimate for its repair which will be expensive. I noted the following defects which must be corrected immediately:





Sounds like you did one hell of a job.

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In my minds eye I have a picture. This picture may or may not be accurate, but this is how I world write what I have pictured.

The electrical system at this location is beyond salvage. A complete rewiring is needed before anyone can occupy this property.

The roof, venting and soffits are in need of repair to stop the massive water penetration.

The extent of structural rot is unknown, but the needed mold/mildew clean up may by itself cost more than the value of the property. Professional evaluation by a qualified contractor is needed here.

Approximate cost to repair, minus mold/mildew clean up and repair of rotted wood is 25 to 30 thousand dollars.

Relax. just call out what you have seen and you have done what you were paid to do.

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Those are the easiest houses; one can usually describe the major systems w/ generalities & reference a couple specifics to support the statements. Kind of like George said; *everything* is screwed and it needs replacement.

I think stating "further evaluation required" on these kinds of houses makes one look overly bookish. You can see it's a dump; just come up w/a technically accurate manner to describe the dump, & tell the client that they are going to be tearing it all out & starting over.

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As a generalist, you've identified several safety concerns and made your client aware of them.

I'd be very cautious in recommending specific remedial action that could come back and haunt you. How would you justify your expertise in court for your recommendations?

Let the 'experts' move in and take charge from here, inform your client to get specific help, Further Evaluation is recommended.

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I agree with you BUT....

Lets say your background qualifies you as an expert in certain fields and you pass the buck knowing full well what is needed and how much it is going to cost. How would you justify NOT supplying the information?

It is a judgement call to be sure, but I would only defer an issue if I really didn't know. Otherwise, they are paying for my opinion, and I give it to them. I think withholding an honest opinion is more dangerous than giving it.


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OK, I'll expose my ignorance. What is a "flying splice"?

A splice outside a J box?

A note on that waving mold, along with the other suspect areas of water intrusion (probably growing colonies). I'll bet it will costs more to correct and repair them than the electrical problems.


P.S. The Melinda Ballard mold case just settled "out of court" for an "undisclosed amount".

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Forgive me for being flippant, but it seems you're making a lot over something very simple.


While examining the electrical panel we noted several significant and potentially hazardous safety conditions: These conditions include but are not limited to: (a) xxxxx; (b) yyyy; and © zzzz. We recommend having a competent and licensed electrician read our report, review the system and then repair nd/or replace components as needed to ensure a safe and properly wired electrical system that meets or exceeds the TTTT Code. Because of the safety potential this poses in its current condition, we recommend this be done prior to closing.

Do the same with the roof and mold and get done.

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As a general contractor and renovator for a really long time, I would verbally explain what I saw and suggest possible solutions. But I would never assume that responsibility as a home inspector advising my client.

I recall a court case where the inspector had failed to inform his client to consult a specialist and the client acted on the inspector's advise with disastrous results.

Now, I don't know the full details of it, it could have been a miscommunication and the buyer failed to follow directions. I don't like the idea of owning recommendations that fall outside my parameters.

George, I know where you're coming from and I would preface my statement as "In my opinion, I recommend euthanasia but you should defer your decision until after talking with the EXPERTS"


Mind if I lift your boilerplate?

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