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  1. #1
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    Default Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    Hi y'all....a friend of mine who is a honcho in a large insurance service firm (they do a million or so insurance inspections per year) asked me a couple of questions today. One of the big homeowner's insurance companies that he contracts with is trying to find a way for their agents to be able to guesstimate if a house has circuit breakers and if it has 100 amp service.

    I guess a lot of their agents have looked at homes and written things like, "Home has 110 amp service" or "home has 220 amp service" so they would like to come to a rough estimate of when most newly constructed homes were using 100 amp service and when newly constructed homes mostly switched to circuit breakers from fuses.

    This may be in part a localized issue and I'm just looking to help a friend and get some opinions. Thanks to all!

    Dan Cullen

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    Dan Cullen
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    Chicago IL

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    why don't you tell them to look up, look up and look at the wires.
    As far as circuit breakers. Look at the wires. Age determination of a main wire will give you a panel age determination. In theory of course, and that is if you figure out the first part.
    And these are the people who we ( I had to go back and read that again,You guys are unbelieveable. ) buy homeowners insurance from.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    I recall reading in an HI training book once that you can tell the size of the service by the meter box. There were certain characteristics to 100, 150 and 200 amp services. It never stuck because, of course, I just pull the cover and look inside. Maybe somebody else here can add something to this.

    As for the fuse to breaker change.... I'd say on average around 1955. I've seen breakers as early as 1950 (usually Zinsco or some other brand of kindling) and fuses as late as 1960 so it's a bit difficult to just apply a rule that would be accurate in all instances.


  4. #4
    Jim Zborowski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    A 200 amp meter will say CL 200 on the face and be in a rectangular box ( if it's overhead service ), while a 60 amp is generally in a smaller square box. As for the wire leading to the rop ( the customer side of the splice, comming out of the weatherhead ) could give a clue to the size service. The drop from the pole may be smaller than expected for a 200 amp service as some utility companys leave the existing wire when they do an upgrade.Then you have the panel itself. The main breaker itself willl either have the size molded in or stamped on it. The box itself will have the manufacturers label on it listing the enclosure as 200., 150, or 100 amp.
    However, the actual rating of the service is........................whichever component of the system is rated the lowest.In other words, if the meter is 200 amp, the main is 200 amp, but the wire connected between the meter and the main are only rated for 100 amps, then it would be 100 amp.
    As for the 110 amp vs 220 amp, I'm sure you mean volts. That part is eisier. Look at the drop to the weatherhead. If there are 2 wires ( plus a strain relief cable ) it's 110 volt service, if there are 3 its 220 volt.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Cullen View Post
    . One of the big homeowner's insurance companies that he contracts with is trying to find a way for their agents to be able to guesstimate if a house has circuit breakers and if it has 100 amp service.
    That would vary by region, to be sure. If this is a National Company selling policies everywhere, it would hard to come up with a reliable rule of thumb that wouldn't have a large pertcentage of error.

    It doesn't sound like they want technical training for their agents, but more of a formula. Such as "house built in 1975= 100 Amps/circuit breakers" or "1965= 60 Amps/fuses" or whatever.

    Dom.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Cullen View Post
    I guess a lot of their agents have looked at homes
    Okay, going on the assumption that the agents 'are at the house', then tell them to look at the electrical panel.

    No technical knowledge required here - does the panel have breaker or fuses?

    If breakers, what does the writing say on the single main breaker.

    Beyond the above, it would get real interesting with the other choices available (more than one main, etc.).

    First, find out if he wants them to do this from the office, or when at the house.

    My thoughts are that they are trying to save money *FOR THEM* in finding out, yet I surely doubt they will be lowering any premiums for the insured.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Zborowski View Post
    A 200 amp meter will say CL 200 on the face and be in a rectangular box ( if it's overhead service ), while a 60 amp is generally in a smaller square box. As for the wire leading to the rop ( the customer side of the splice, comming out of the weatherhead ) could give a clue to the size service. The drop from the pole may be smaller than expected for a 200 amp service as some utility companys leave the existing wire when they do an upgrade.Then you have the panel itself. The main breaker itself willl either have the size molded in or stamped on it. The box itself will have the manufacturers label on it listing the enclosure as 200., 150, or 100 amp.
    However, the actual rating of the service is........................whichever component of the system is rated the lowest.In other words, if the meter is 200 amp, the main is 200 amp, but the wire connected between the meter and the main are only rated for 100 amps, then it would be 100 amp.
    As for the 110 amp vs 220 amp, I'm sure you mean volts. That part is eisier. Look at the drop to the weatherhead. If there are 2 wires ( plus a strain relief cable ) it's 110 volt service, if there are 3 its 220 volt.
    Jim, I have a question. Isn't there a problem with the set up that you have? If the main is 200 amps and the the wire is 100amp cannot you still draw 200amps. Shouldn't the service be rated 200 amps and recommend upgrading the 100 amp wire?


  8. #8
    Jim Zborowski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    Thinking you're right Dom. Wonder what they'd do if they encountered the farmhouse I did a few years ago. Went into the basement and it hit me square in the face.............4 - 200 amp panels fed by a 400 amp disconnect. Guy must have had some bucks, the place had 2 water heaters, 2 a/c units, 2 independant electric baseboard systems


  9. #9
    Jim Zborowski's Avatar
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    This is true Dave, what I was pointing out is that realistically, just because one component of the sytem may be 20 amp, does not mean the service is actually providing 200 amps safely ( chain is only as strong as the weakest link kind of thing ) . Recommendation of upgrading the service leads to correct size would be the proper call.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    Thank Jim, I wanted to make sure what I was thinking was correct.


  11. #11
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    The rating on the SE panel tells us what it will carry maximum and the SE conductors tells us what is actually coming in load wise.

    Jerry McCarthy
    Building Code/ Construction Consultant

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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry McCarthy View Post
    The rating on the SE panel tells us what it will carry maximum and the SE conductors tells us what is actually coming in load wise.

    WC Jerry,

    I would re-word that as follows: 'The rating on the SE panel tells us what it will carry maximum and the rating of the SE conductors tells us what it will carry maximum.'

    The SE conductors could actually be being used as a 'fusible link' when used well over their rating.

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

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    ":..trying to find a way for their agents to be able to guesstimate if a house has circuit breakers and if it has 100 amp service"

    Look at the panel. If you see fuses, it's got fuses. If you see breakers, it's got breakers. When you look at the main breaker, if it's marked 100, it has a 100 AMP service.

    Isn't that all you asked. All this stuff about the SE cable and whatever is so true, but being familiar with insurance inspections, if the industry paid better, they might get inspectors that know or are interested to learn how to determine the rest of the service... and more.

    Last edited by Steven Turetsky; 08-13-2008 at 07:58 PM.
    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    I think you guys are missing the point. Or I am. I am thinking they want to know how to tell the Amperage without entering the home. A quick drive by.
    Pretty simple by just looking at the Main service wire.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    Quote Originally Posted by wayne soper View Post
    I think you guys are missing the point. Or I am. I am thinking they want to know how to tell the Amperage without entering the home. A quick drive by.
    I'm not missing the point, that's why I said "My thoughts are that they are trying to save money *FOR THEM* in finding out, yet I surely doubt they will be lowering any premiums for the insured.".

    They want their agents, at no cost to them, to be able to make that statement, when in fact they should be paying others to find out that information.

    Pretty simple by just looking at the Main service wire.
    Nope, that's not even going to answer their question, as others have posted above, its more complicated than that.

    Next thing you know, they will want to know some way to know what is wrong with the houses without paying for any inspections of any kind.

    Tell you guys what, want to help each and everyone one of us retire? I'll make a web site where you can log in the information you find on each house regarding "service size" and "breakers or fuses". Then we can re-sell that information to in$urance companies as the data base grows. I started it for termite reports for the state of Florida years ago, but no other termite inspectors wanted to participate and share their information, even though it would have helped everyone by helping to track evidence of termites, live termites, and wood decay fungi.

    Anyone interested?

    Got the program already written, just would have to adapt it over from termite to this.

    Last edited by Jerry Peck; 08-14-2008 at 01:13 PM. Reason: made it in$urance so it would not have the automatic link
    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    Unless someone is going to teach me something new, there is no way without looking at the panel to intelligently determine breakers/fuses/amps. But simply determining about whether it's fuses or breakers, or what size the main breaker is not going to tell you much about the integrity of the system. All it is doing is "stroking", if you get my gist.

    Steven Turetsky, UID #16000002314
    homeinspectionsnewyork.com
    eifsinspectionsnewyork.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Question from the Insurance Service Industry

    Gotcha Jerry. Oh yeah, I'm in.


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