I love to reblog inspector posts about some of the things they find during a good home inspection. No matter how much you think you know, nothing can replace having a home inspection done before you purchase!
In the following picture we can see the electrical service to a home. The large grey box marked “A” is a utility company junction box. The utility company wires run underground to this box, where power is then distributed to panels “B” and “C.” This set up is common in residences with large electrical services and are considered “double 200 amp” services or “400 amp” services. There are also “sensors” in this box that send signals to the electric meter as to the amount of electricity being used.
Just outside the garage door opening one can see the electrical conduit coming out of the ground and then turning at an angle where it runs through the garage wall and into Box “A.”
Note how rusted the bottom of box “A” is----as well as rusting on the conduit coming out of the ground.
What had happened with this electrical service is that the underground conduit runs up the hill away from the house (to the right in the picture). At the high end of the conduit, away from the house, the pipe had been taking in ground-water and filling up to that corresponding level “inside” the conduit where it runs into the garage and inside Box “A’ itself. This next picture shows previous water levels inside the pipe and box as indicated by rusting.
These Utility Company Junction boxes should not be accessible by the property owner and should have utility company “seals” at the corners for safety. This panel had no seals and the rust showing the high-water line inside the box was pretty spectacular-----high enough to cover electrical components within the panel.
If you have a panel configuration that looks like this in your home (not very common by the way) and it does not have any Utility Company seals on it, you should call the utility to come and install seals on it for improved safety. The next picture shows what those seals look like----the two orange doohickeys at the top corners of Panel “A.”
What was especially curious about this panel is that someone knew about the flooding and had drilled six small holes in the cover of the conduit elbow so that water would run out at a lower level----preventing wate from running into Box “A.”
While this “repair” was likely very effective as a “temporary” fix, repairs are warranted to keep water out of the conduit all together as these small holes will, over time, rust shut or clog with debris----and the indoor panel might flood again.
It is pretty much always a good idea to keep electricity and water from getting together.
Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector
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