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The Dangers of a Home Inspection

The Dangers of a Home Inspection

The home inspection report is evaluated by two parties during the Real Estate transaction. The buyer of the property thinks you did a great job pointing out everything that is wrong with the house including potential problems for them to keep an eye on. The seller on the other hand believes you are the meanest person in the world, nit picking every little thing about the house.

electrical panel in homeOne of the things we see and report often during a home inspection is the use of sharp ended screws used to hold the front, electrical panel in place. We report this condition every time. Why? It seems like such a minor thing that would have no ramifications on the function of the house. Here is what happened during a home inspection I performed last week:

electric panelThe buyer, Realtor, and I were walking around the exterior of the home. I was explaining to the buyer the type of siding he had, showing him areas of wood rot, damaged trim, etc. We then proceeded to the storage room where the main electrical panel was located.

Since taking an electrical panel off can be a hazardous job, we always make sure that anyone watching us work is standing back at a safe distance. As I started to take off the first screw for the panel I was greeted with a loud pop, immediately showered with sparks, and then smoke. Luckily I was using insulated tools, which prevented me from being injured from a potentially fatal shock. After further investigation, I found sharp-ended screws.

sharp ended screw (note the melted one)Whoever put the panel on last used sheet metal screws to hold it in place. When they tightened up this screw it penetrated the outer covering of the wire causing the electrical wire to touch the metal screw, which in turn touches the metal outer panel. So what could have happened?

wire damage in electrical box home inspectionInstead of shorting out, this connection could have caused the entire main panel box to become energized. This means that anyone touching the box accidentally could have become shocked. The electrical short happens very suddenly, which causes the breaker to trip, (if the breaker is in working condition) but still will pop, spark, and can smoke. The problem can take a while to develop. This allows the wire to overheat over time and eventually can melt the wire and potentially cause a fire.

The point of this blog post is to try to inform you that even though a home inspection’s findings can seem very picky in scope and may include things like the use of a wrong screw, the intent is to protect that new homeowner for dangers that they may run across in their new home. That $.12 screw could have been fatal and/or could have caused a fire in the home.

electrical box that caught fireInnovative Pest Solutions and Innovative Home Inspections would like to thank all their buyers and sellers for all the work we have been blessed with over the past year. We have performed thousands of home inspections, termite inspections, pest control treatments throughout 2014 and we would like to wish your family a Happy Thanksgiving. Please take a few minutes to give thanks and enjoy your turkey.