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Thread: Panel Puzzle

  1. #1

    Smile Panel Puzzle

    Found this in a 1956 2400 sq ft Ranch style house today. I've got quite a list. Would be interested in what you guys see.

    Panel Pictures

    The next time the seller says my deceased father-in-law was in electrical engineer I think I'll bump my fee.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Ozbirn View Post
    I've got quite a list. Would be interested in what you guys see.

    List what you found first.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    I see a need for an electrician to repalr all the incorrect wiring.

    Probably recommend to simplify it all with one or two 200 amp panels. Too many items to list. Pictures are small and difficult to see.

    "The Code is not a peak to reach but a foundation to build from."

  4. #4
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    I think I would pick out a couple of the bigger problems to report on and then say a licensed electrican needs to evaluate and repair all problems with the panels. It may not be as bad as it seems after it is cleaned up a bit.


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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    I think I would pick out a couple of the bigger problems to report on and then say a licensed electrican needs to evaluate and repair all problems with the panels. It may not be as bad as it seems after it is cleaned up a bit.
    Don't you think the new owner would be better off with a new breaker panel?
    I agree fuses may be more reliable than old breakers, but we are getting away from that technology, like fumbling with screw-in fuses with a flashlight in your mouth.
    I see double taps all over the place and possibly over-fused wiring because there are no 15 amp safety fuses in there, looks like someone bought a box of 20 amp fuses and stopped bothering with 15's. This place is overdue for a new breaker panel.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  6. #6
    Ron Bibler's Avatar
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    One could put a book together with all the issues in these panels...
    Its a mess and need to be replaced and upgraded to current standards...

    You could say something like that in your report

    Best

    Ron


  7. #7
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    Quote Originally Posted by Ron Bibler View Post
    One could put a book together with all the issues in these panels...
    Its a mess and need to be replaced and upgraded to current standards...

    You could say something like that in your report

    Best

    Ron
    In NC that would be a upgrade and not a repair. You could say that in your report but it could not be in the summary. It only has to be working properly....it does not have to meet current stardards....only 1956 standards.


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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    In NC that would be a upgrade and not a repair. You could say that in your report but it could not be in the summary. It only has to be working properly....it does not have to meet current stardards....only 1956 standards.
    In that case, they are lucky to be in Alabama, where HI's are hopefully allowed to recommend a new panel.

    How would you define "Working properly"? Safe enough not to burst into flame? In that case, could you request the installation be made safe and proper with a new panel in your summary? How about if you called it a cover page instead of a summary?
    What would the penalty be for calling for an upgrade? Do they take away your license?

    Last edited by John Kogel; 08-26-2010 at 09:31 PM.
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    List what you found first.
    Come on JP.... does everything here have to be a "contest"? We all know you know more about this stuff than us.

    As for the OP... quite a setup for it's day. It's dated for sure and has numerous problems by today's standards (and yesterday's). Sure looks clean though. I don't think I've ever seen 50 years old panels that are so clean inside. It's as though the seller vacuumed and cleaned them out every year.

    The electrical engineer thing is funny.... Most I've met are quick to admit they know nothing about residential wiring.


  10. #10
    Paul Johnston's Avatar
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    Quote Originally Posted by James Duffin View Post
    In NC that would be a upgrade and not a repair. You could say that in your report but it could not be in the summary. It only has to be working properly....it does not have to meet current stardards....only 1956 standards.
    Correct and most of us have no idea what the 56 standard was. Probably work fine and was top of the line for the time.


  11. #11
    James Duffin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    [quote=John Kogel;142966]In that case, they are lucky to be in Alabama, where HI's are hopefully allowed to recommend a new panel.

    How would you define "Working properly"? Safe enough not to burst into flame? In that case, could you request the installation be made safe and proper with a new panel in your summary? How about if you called it a cover page instead of a summary?
    What would the penalty be for calling for an upgrade? Do they take away your license?[/quote]

    Possibly if the seller complained to the licensing board and the board agreed with the seller that it could be repaired without being replaced. I never say something needs to be replaced just to cover my butt. Once you put "replace" in the buyers mind they will accept nothing else and that can be a problem for the inspector if it can be repaired.

    Wednesday I inspected a 1900 house and today I have a 1919 house to inspect. Both in historic districts. There is no way those houses can be brought up to current standards without tearing them down and starting over. I inspect what is there and report on the problems I see and recommend upgrades in the body of the report but the summary only has repairs included. Your ideas are probably different and that is OK by me!


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    The photos were really too small for my old eyes to see any detail. I'm not really into the, "I can find one more thing than you did" kind of thing anyway.

    I see this kind of thing a lot on the older homes in my area. Sometimes they are a huge mess, sometimes, they are just old panels and old wiring.
    Most of the time with these kind of set ups, my clients are already in the mindset of putting in a new panel anyway.

    Unless the main is 60 amps, I'm going to call out for repairs and not replacement just because its old.


  13. #13
    Bill Nolte's Avatar
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    First, too many folks seem to think that bringing to current standards is a cure all. It is not the job of the inspector but rather the licensed electrician, electrical contractor or Authority Having Jurisdiction (typically the municipal electrical inspector) to determine if upgrades are prudent. It is the job of the home inspector to report; (a) I am not a licensed electrician (unless you are a licensed electrician), (b) I note the following potential safety violations. From here you are required to be familiar with the code in effect at the time of installation!!! (Nobody said your job would be easy.) If you are not familiar with and/or do not have access to all issues of the NFPA 70 "The National Electrical Code" than you may only state there are potential safety issues and you should enumerate same. Always list the code reference article number and specific year of the code you are referencing. Note; there are 23 potential versions of the code that may be required for review on a home built in 1956 with repairs and changes through yesterday, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1962, 1965, 1968, 1971, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005 and 2008. The earlier versions are dependant on what version of the code was in effect in this jurisdiction at the time of construction and or permitting of the structure.
    Some of the equipment obviously dates to the original wiring job, however some of the wiring has been modified since 1956 and the correct applicable code must be utilized to judge that work independently of the date(s) of the other work.
    Many items that are written up today as "safety" issues were not a "safety" issue when they were installed, that is why the NFPA 70 code changes on a semi-regular basis. Safety issues are brought before the code making panel and if approved, appropriate changes are incorporated into the next version of the code, as this is a consensus standard code.
    You can always write items as "potential safety issues" this should preserve you from litigation by other parties but not always. I would recommend always including an electrical code reference with year and article number for all electrical safety issues you find.
    In this instance the mixing of neutral and grounds in sub panel load centers will be an obvious violation in the newer load centers however the mixing in the older fusible load centers should only be listed as a potential safety issue with recommendations that these items be separated to provide a safer situation and prevent potential shock from grounded surfaces attached to these circuits.
    Missing connector clamp screws should be noted, any cables entering the enclosures without proper connectors, any openings in the enclosures that do not have cables (with appropriate connectors) are required to be closed with an approved closure substantially equal to the enclosure itself. This is to keep sparks within the metal enclosure rather than the dust and sawdust within the walls.
    Remember a fuse is as good as the day it was purchased until the day it blows, while a circuit breaker has an expected/anticipated 10 year life. Don’t be too quick to recommend replacement of fuses just because they are old technology. Sometimes there are advantages to “old technology”.
    Stick to the facts!
    Good luck!!!


  14. #14
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    Post Re: Panel Puzzle

    A lot of very nice, old electrical equipment. There are many safety issues and improper wiring. I would recommend replacing out-dated and unsafe equipment. Certainly, there had to be wiring problems throughout the house.

    Randall Aldering GHI BAOM MSM
    Housesmithe Inspection
    www.housesmithe.com

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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    That's an interesting point of view, Bill N.
    I am not an electrician, so I can't call a shock hazard a hazard, only a potentail hazard.
    I am not an AHJ, so I can't call for an upgrade.
    I don't have 20 code books dating back to 1953, so I can't quote the correct code. Besides, I don't know which codes were being followed at the time nor the actual years the add-ons were added on. I just don't know.
    This must be why a lot of inspectors end up just calling for "further evaluation by a qualified electrician". I suppose it depends on what's acceptable practice in the area where you do your inspections.

    Most of my clients would be baffled by a mess of fuses like this. They ask questions like "Can we put in a hot tub?" "Are there enough outlets here for my computers and scanners?""Where's the outlet in this bathroom?".


    What about the potential for people to stick pennys in the fuse sockets? Can I mention that in my report? No, better not.

    Last edited by John Kogel; 08-27-2010 at 10:10 AM.
    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  16. #16
    Roger Frazee's Avatar
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    I would make one comment in my report for sure ... "missing panel index".... or would it be indexes .... ooops probably wasn't required in 58 or was it 59 ? Maybe should read "pull main fuse block"....


  17. #17

    Wink Re: Panel Puzzle

    Olde Tired eyes Jack F.
    If you click on one of the "small" thumbnail photos, it will bring up a larger version. (Not that it does "tells" you what is "wrong" ) But at least you can see it better. Then you can advance to the nest photo at will...(or Jane)


  18. #18
    Ken Bates's Avatar
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    The system engenders a multitude of opinions and comments.

    How many viewers identified a confirmable problem via consensus?

    Looks and dresses like a vagrant ( so no chance he's actually an eccentric billionaire? )

    Some panels had breakers and a few appeared to be AFCI breakers. This indicates the strong possibility of someone who knows and cares. This someone would be capable of recognizing significant concerns. If there were concerns, one could recommend corrections (aka upsell).

    I would simply recommend further evaluation by an electrician with demonstrable diagnostic skills to see if there are any concerns (that may affect insurance, safety, codes, etc.)


  19. #19
    David Bell's Avatar
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    To keep the report manageable you should report the things that were correct and up to code in this inspection, everything else should be delivered with the business card of the local lawyer specializing in liability.


  20. #20
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    Matt,

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    Come on JP.... does everything here have to be a "contest"?
    It is not a contest, it is that he said:

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Ozbirn View Post
    I've got quite a list.

    After he lists his stuff then we can add to the list - *if needed* - besides, on many occasions others have said the same thing to other people ... post what they found first, we can review what they found and add to the list.

    Why make us make a list of the things he already found?

    More importantly (there are reasons for that request) he may list things which are not really wrong, and if he does not list them, and we do not say they are not wrong (how would we know to say they are not wrong?), then he may go on presuming that they are wrong.

    Thus, it is best for the person asking the question to list what they found wrong first, we may (and have many times) taken things off the list and explained why, and then there will be things we will add to the list.

    Matt, I am surprised you did not think of this stuff before posting your "contest" remark - there ARE valid reasons for that request.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  21. #21
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    As for the OP... quite a setup for it's day.

    I doubt that was the setup for its day, I suspect it 'grew over time', becoming 'quite a setup' over time.

    In looking at only 5 or so photos I see too many items to bother listing them all, as stated by others (if not in the thread, in other threads in the past) - list what you see then call for a licensed and competent electrical contractor to correct the deficiencies you listed and any and all others they find or create making those repairs.

    That leaves it in the hands of the qualified and competent contractor, and if they screw things up making repairs (which we see all the time) you have already told them to correct those screw-ups too.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Panel Puzzle

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Johnston View Post
    Correct and most of us have no idea what the 56 standard was. Probably work fine and was top of the line for the time.
    Actually, you may need to contact the local officials to determine what code was used for this structure (if this is possible). As an example, I live in a home that was built in 2004, but as the community was designed and permits were obtained years prior to 2004-----the code that was in effect (accepted by the municipality), was prior to 2004.

    .


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