Electrical breaker boxes are usually never looked at until a home inspection or repairs occur. This was definitely the case we found when we performed the home inspection in Deerfield Illinois. To perform a proper electrical breaker box inspection the cover of the electrical panel should be removed to allow for a visual inspection of all of the breakers and the condition of the electrical box. Many issues can be found in electrical breaker panels that include.
- DOUBLE TAPPED BREAKERS – This is when 2 wires from two different locations are installed on 1 breaker. Breakers are designed for only 1 wire and the addition of a 2nd wire can cause overheating of the breaker if the wires are not properly secured. The larger issue that double taps produce is failing of the breaker due to much electric passing through the breaker for 2 locations. This issue may cause failure of the breakers or issues broken wires or breakers when overheated.
- RUSTED ELECTRICAL PANELS OR BREAKERS – Rusted electrical panels can come from many places but the most common cause for rust in an electrical panel is the main conduit or pipe to the exterior meter is not sealed to the exterior and cold air is entering the electrical breaker panel. The cold air enters the panel that is potentially 50-70 degrees. Condensation occurs on the metal of the panel and precedes to rust. The repair method for this issue is to seal the piping in the panel entering from the exterior to assure the cold air does not enter the home. Sealing the electrical meter on the exterior of the wall to the building also may reduce the air or moisture enter in the homes breaker panels and walls. The electrical panel in the Deerfield home inspection had a rusted panel that was believed to have been caused from lack of sealing.
- RUSTED ELECTRICAL PANELS OR BREAKERS – Rusted electrical panels can also originate from high humidity in a basement which is to be expected. Generally the installation of a dehumidifier is recommended ion any basement to reduce the humidity in any basement.
- UNDERSIZED OR OVERSIZED WIRES TO BREAKER CONNECTION – The wrong size breakers to wire connection is also another issue we see on a regular basis that should be noted when inspecting an electrical breaker box.
- UNDOCUMENTED BREAKER PANEL – A breaker panel that is not properly tagged leaves homes owners in a dangerous disadvantage. The knowledge of all of the breakers locations should be noted on the panels to assure that safety issues do not occur in the home. The Deerfield home inspection had 3 breakers that were tagged but left 11 that were not documented leaving the electrical panel defective.
- MISSING ELECTRICAL BREAKER BOX COVER SCREWS – Movement of an electrical breaker panel cover can cause breaker to be moved to the off position or little hands to gain access to the interior of the breaker panel potentially causing a major safety issues in the home. The replacement of all of the electrical breaker panel screws is a must.
The Deerfield home inspection like most homes we inspect had issues that all can be fixed or remedied. The most important thing that should happen when inspecting your electrical breaker panel is not only finding the issues but knowing what to do to eliminate the issues at hand. My client from the Deerfield home inspection was concerned about the issues we located but was relieved that the repairs were minimal and attainable with limited cost.
If you are buying a home make sure your home inspector removes the electrical breaker cover to visually inspect the interior contents of the electrical breaker panel during your home inspection to assure no hidden issues develop after you move in.
Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.
It’s the holidays here in Chicago land and a lot of people like to decorate their home with lights and lighted decorations. Unfortunately most of these homes do not have the proper breaker box configurations. Basically the load on the wiring and the breakers in these boxes may be overloaded due to the extra load from the decorations. That was the case at the Glenview home inspection I recently was hired to perform. The issues with the electric did not start until I started to test the microwave in the kitchen. As you probably could guess the microwave use of electric was the tipping point that made the breaker trip that happened to be tied to the exterior outlets also.
Generally the electric for the exterior outlets of a home have their own dedicated breaker as do the kitchen appliances. Unfortunately I found that the electric at the Glenview home inspection had other issues that would need correction. When I went to reset the breaker in the breaker box I unscrewed the breaker box cover and found double taps and triple taps. A double tap or triple tap is when multiple wires are installed in one breaker. Each breaker should only have one wire. This is why the breakers where found to be overheated at the Glenview home inspection.
The next issue I encountered at the Glenview home inspection was that there was no room for future breakers in the box. That is probably why the breakers had multiple double tap connections. The correction for all of these issues was to hire a licensed electrician who would install a larger electrical panel and to separate the double and triple taps. The repair cost for a new electrical panel is $700.00 – $1600.00 depending on where you live in the country.
During home inspections my clients are always concerned what repairs are required immediately? Overheated breaker panels and double tapped breakers are defective issues and I would recommend immediate repair. That is exactly what I recommended my clients from the Glenview home inspection do.
Electrical breaker panel inspections are a very important portion of any home inspection and should be taken very serious. If you have any questions about electrical panels or any issue in your home or building contact me at 312-961-4228 or The Thermal Home Inspector. Thank you for stopping by and stay safe.