Incomplete Wiring Practices

By
Home Inspector with King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. Home Inspector Lic #207

I do not often see this at new construction, but in homes that are just a few years old it seems that a previous homeowner, somewhere along the way, could not restrain the urge to do some wiring.

This often leads to improperly terminated wires, sometimes energized and sometimes not, and they might be found in the attic, the crawl space the garage, outside. Trying to predict locations in advance is difficult because these do-it-yourselfers might leave the wire just about anywhere. The fact is that electric wires and splices should be properly terminated and that includes putting connections in a covered junction box or, if the circuit is abandoned, then the cable may be removed. Part of the goal is to eliminate confusion as to what is live, what is not live and what might become live if some unmarked switch in the hinterlands is flipped by an unsuspecting party.

Thanks for stopping by,

Steven L. Smith

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Steven L. Smith

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Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Bonnie Vaughan 02/20/2010 03:30 AM
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Rainer
41,882
Pierre Chan
Dexter Credit Union - Providence, RI

yes, I put in an offer on a house in california back in 2004. I had an inspector go into the home and found a bundle of wires, about 15, strapped to a support beam that were just capped off. The inspector was not very comfortable with this even when the owner said that they were fine and are cut off. I asked for the owner to give me a wiring diagram of where these wires went and also have them property closed so that I would not have a possilbe fire hazzard. The ower refused so I had to back out of the sale... Too scarey for me.

Feb 20, 2010 02:35 AM #1
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Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

Steve, Dealing in REOs for a number of years, we use to call this wild wiring. The power source didn't always come from the same property or through any meter box...
Have a great day my friend,
Paul

Feb 20, 2010 03:14 AM #2
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Paul, that sounds more like "feral" wiring :)  Steve is famous for his feral cats----it only figures he might have feral wiring as well.

Feb 20, 2010 05:53 AM #3
Rainer
48,105
Ian Niquette
Square One Home Inspection - Markesan, WI

Steven, these are starting to pop up more and more., especially in 'newer' homes. I think this is because the owner was supposed to be finishing up to save money and for whatever reason, just quit. JMO.

Feb 20, 2010 06:58 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,911,219
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Eliminating the confusion is usually NOT the goal!

Feb 20, 2010 02:04 PM #5
Rainmaker
1,248,480
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Jay,

That is a pretty big factor in my book. Obviously safety is the primary goal. But I detest old wires that we have no clue where they go and whether or not flipping some esoteric switch might energize the wire. I have seen that happen with a wire thought to be dead. If we did not want to clarify what is safe and what is not, then we might think it fine to leave a wire like the one above as long as we knew for certain it was dead. I want them removed or a J-box. I guess, having been a broadcast engineer for years, I really got frustrated by old abandoned circuits in high voltage equipment. Removing an old wire, no longer in use, makes things so much cleaner and easier and safer. You can see what you got. On a similar note, I hate it when electricians leave all the old knob and tube wiring in place even when they have killed all of it, or some of it. In a similar vein, leaving all or some of the old rusted out plumbing pipes can be pretty confusing too -- what is in service and what is not. I think that proper identification is important, especially with wiring where we do not know what action or switch might turn an old wire into a live wire.

Feb 20, 2010 02:21 PM #6
Rainmaker
1,911,219
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Hey, I agree Steve!  I see it too!!  I was saying that it seems to me that sometimes guys are actually trying to make things confusing!  So eliminating that confusion seems NOT to be the goal.

Once on a flip (I hate flips, and don't mind using that word) the flipper had half covered with drywall what appeared to be a very old junction box in a basement ceiling.  When I pointed it out on the report the flipper told my client's realtor that I was an "idiot."  So much for lack of confusion as regards the flipping wiring...

Under a deck the other day I saw a very large cable hanging loose with electrical tape on the still-exposed ends.  When I traced it inside to the box the different-manufacturer breaker was labeled "H.T."  Ah dooo be beleevin' dat der wer da 220 coh-nexyun.  Um, it was still hot...  I kindly turned off the breaker.

Never gets old does it!

It has to be a very old house in which I see knob and tube, and then in the attic and obviously dead.  But I know you and Charlie see it a lot!  I do find a lot of switches that seem to do nothing.  Not confusing at all, he said dryly.

Your post is well said and well taken.  I will continue to check in each day I can!

Feb 20, 2010 09:08 PM #7
Rainmaker
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Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Jay,

I agree on all of that. I just did not understand the tongue in cheek nature of the comment.

Feb 21, 2010 01:25 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,911,219
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Think dry humor Steve, and sorry you didn't get it. 

I am really dry sometimes.

Feb 21, 2010 11:54 AM #9
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

I think Jay lives in a "dry" town :)  I grew up in a dry town in Connecticut----liquor stores at every border crossing:)

Feb 21, 2010 12:08 PM #10
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jay, I think Nutsy must be on Steve's computer again---wait till Steve gets home---he will get it:)

Feb 21, 2010 12:10 PM #11
Rainmaker
1,248,480
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr Jay,

Mr Charles is obnoxious and I am on the keyboard for the boss who is out.

Nutsy

Feb 21, 2010 12:22 PM #12
Rainer
115,761
Eldon Hendrix
Hendrix and sons Home Inspections - Holiday, FL

I ran into a home with similar wiring two weeks ago.  At least yours had the wiring caps attached.  Have a great week.

Eldon

Mar 03, 2010 10:10 AM #13
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Steven L. Smith

Bellingham WA Home Inspector
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