As we’ve seen from the previous two videos in this home inspection series (1, 2), there’s a lot to learn about a house from its outside. In this video, Benutech’s Tom Iovenitti stays outside to look at the main electrical panel with Karl Gresowski of Eagle Home Inspections.
When a homebuyer isn’t electrically experienced, the mysteries controlled by that panel (and the possible dangers should something go wrong) can cause a great deal of concern. While you definitely need to have your own inspector look at the electrical panel, if you watch this video and learn about some key things to look for, hopefully you can cut back on those worries.
KARL GRESOWSKI: What we’re doing is we’re looking for two wires to one breaker. Make sure we’re not over-circuiting the breakers. We’re making sure the proper wire sizes coincide with the proper size breakers. We do have, if you notice these green outlets, these green push buttons on these breakers. These are arc fault breakers. They’re tied to your bedrooms and lights and stuff like that. In case a nail got through them, it would trip here and trip them so we know they’d be safe. When we’re going through, not only are we checking for that, we are checking to make sure that our breakers are not overheating, that we’re causing any problems with any of the breakers. If they are, then we are going to note it in our report: “Hey, our A/C breakers are overheating, let’s have a guy come in and find out what’s causing it.” Because usually that will come from the A/C unit itself, or the breaker’s gone bad, because it’s sending too much current and there’s a problem.
IOVENITTI: So some of the older homes, not some of the newer homes, but older homes… Have you found issues with some of the breakers overheating, like because of the wiring being aluminum or something like that?
GRESOWSKI: Aluminum wiring, yes. Where if it’s an aluminum wiring when the homes were built back in the war, they used to use the copper in the brass for bullets, we’d find the wires overheating here. And then usually they’ll be overheating at the back of the outlets. So then we would bring in an electrician to go through it and fix those items. Usually when we find overheating on the breakers, it’s due to either the breakers are burning out, or the wrong size breaker running something. So what happens is the back is overheating, you’ll actually see arcing and it gets real brittle. On this one here, we can’t see too much because they are backed up to each other. But that’s what we’re looking for.
IOVENITTI: What other things would you look for in the electrical box?
GRESOWSKI: We want to make sure that we’re not making any junctions, cuz this is not a junction panel. We want to make sure that all our wires on our bus bar in here are nice and tight, they’re not doubled up,l because when the wires are doubled up here, what it can do is the set screw won’t tighten down properly so we can get an open-neutral or an open-ground somewhere.
IOVENITTI: So by looking in the main electrical panel, you’d be able to tell if there was a sub-panel somewhere or if there’s something else you need to go look at?
GRESOWSKI: Yes. Usually what happens is, if the panel is installed, they would be completely labeled like this one is here, and would tell me what’s running what. And every panel should have that. If not, of course we’re going to recommend an electrician should come in and label it. So the people buying it will know exactly what’s running what.
IOVENITTI: Is there anything else in the electrical panel that we need to know?
GRESOWSKI: That should do it.
IOVENITTI: Ok. Well, this is Tom Iovenitti, and we’re going to move on through the inside of the house. Thank you very much.