# What I Learned in First Grade Sure Comes in Handy

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

First grade was where I remember first being taught how to add. Sure I "knew" how before going to school.  For instance I could do a good job of adding up all the candy I was given at Halloween. Yes sir, there is no doubt about it adding, and don't forget subtracting, are quite useful skills to possess. My adding skills came in very handy the other day on an inspection.

The split level house I was inspecting had 2 air conditioning systems, one for the lower levels and one for the upper level. Each air conditioning unit consists of 2 sections, the outdoor compressor unit and the indoor air handling unit. So in reality we have 4 air conditioning components, 2 + 2 = 4.

Air conditioners are powered by electricity. Therefore they must be wired into the main electric panel. The circuit must be dedicated, meaning that the circuit is only for that particular A/C component. When looking at A/C components I check the data plate for maximum breaker size required. I check that against the breaker for the component in the electric panel.

So when I checked the homes electric panel I expected to see 4 breakers for the A/C components, but instead I only found 2. The panel hadn't been fully labeled, which didn't make finding the right breakers any easier.

There are few things to know with regard to A/C components electrically speaking. One is that they are almost without exception going to be 220 volts. Which means the breaker will be a two pole or double breaker. There are very few appliances in the home that use double breakers, so locating the breakers for A/C components is often just process of elimination.

See how those math skills come into play again.

This is what I found in the panel, 5 double breakers. #1 is for the cook top, #5 for the dryer, 3 & 4 are marked as for the A/C and #2 is a mystery.

By my count this panel is at least one double breaker short. But, you knew there had to be more; it's actually 2 breakers short. There was a double oven in the kitchen in addition to the separate cook top. That oven needs a double pole breaker. Could be #2, I just don't know for certain.

My other big uncertainty is where are those other 2 breakers I should be seeing in the electric panel. My guess is the wires for the air handling units are connected together some where in the house and are sharing a few of the double breakers. If that's the case someone needs to go back to school and learn the meaning of the word dedicated.

My recommendation for this little mystery was to have a licensed electrician sort it all out and fix whatever needs fixing.

As for those first grade math skills, they have rarely ever failed me.

James Quarello
2010 SNEC-ASHI President
NRSB #8SS0022
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

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Rainer
84,150
Mike Parks
Inspector
Residential Building Inspectors

Not being there I call this a good call.

August 25, 2010 05:46 pm
Rainmaker
1,164,166
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Mr James,

Not being there, and only understanding guitar amps, I think you done good.

Wheat, cousin to Nutsy

August 25, 2010 11:29 pm
Rainmaker
595,398
James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

Mike, Thanks for the vote of confidence.

Mr. Wheat, I too understand guitar amps. The bigger and louder all the better.

August 26, 2010 07:40 am
Rainmaker
1,164,166
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspector
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc

Mr James,

We agree on that one.

Wheat

August 26, 2010 06:42 pm
Rainmaker
180,548
Atlanta's Home Inspector, David Lelak IHI Home Inspections
Experience the IHI Difference
IHI Home Inspections 404-788-2581

What we find as inspectors just doesn't "add up" sometimes, does it, James?  Have a great weekend :)

August 19, 2011 12:52 pm
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## James Quarello

Connecticut Home Inspector