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.lots of good info

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.

count 'em 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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Posted by

James Quarello
Connecticut Home Inspector
Former SNEC-ASHI President
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC

 ASHI Certified Inspector

To find out more about our other high tech services we offer in Connecticut click on the links below:

Learn more about our Infrared Thermal Imaging & Diagnostics services.

Serving the Connecticut Counties of Fairfield, Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven, Southern Litchfield and Western New London.

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Ambassador
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Harry F. D'Elia
RentVest - Phoenix, AZ
Investor , Mentor, GRI, Radio, CIPS, REOs, ABR

There are times when we just have to go back to basics and common sense. Great recommendation

Aug 23, 2010 03:19 AM #1
Rainmaker
502,940
Lora "Leah" Stern 914-772-4528
Coldwell Banker, 170 N Main Street, New City NY 10956 - New City, NY
Real Estate Salesperson

James, thanks for the basic lesson.  Never realized that each compressor requires two dedicated line.  Going to check my panel now.

Aug 23, 2010 03:22 AM #2
Ambassador
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Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, great catch----this is why we must always chase those dedicated circuits down----verifying that the disconnect at the unit match the disconnect in the main panel.

Aug 23, 2010 03:35 AM #3
Rainmaker
179,891
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Not only do you teach math, but vocabulary too.  Multi-talented!  Nice catch Jim.

Aug 23, 2010 09:16 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,244,485
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

James,

I am missing Nutsy because he is in charge of all the math at my firm, also when he runs Charlie's firm.

Aug 23, 2010 09:18 AM #5
Rainmaker
604,901
Jeana Cowie
RE/MAX Real Estate Limited - Paramus, NJ
Broker Associate, ABR, CRS, GRI, SRES

James,  Very clever. I appreciate the quick lesson about a/c's.

Aug 23, 2010 09:23 AM #6
Ambassador
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Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

James, just got to love the creativity of Uncle Phil when he comes over to fix the electricity. His philosophy is grab the closest wire, increase the size of the breaker and it's set.

Aug 23, 2010 02:00 PM #7
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Harry, The basics rarely fail.

Lora, The compressor needs one and the air handler also needs one.

Charlie, Yep, you never know who did the wiring or how they did it.

Jack, Thanks.

Steve, I heard Nutsy is good with adding up his nuts, but is easily distracted. He will play with nuts instead of counting them.

Jeana, Thanks, hope you learned a little something.

Ed, Believe it or not, as far as I could tell, the systems were installed by "professionals".

Aug 24, 2010 12:02 AM #8
Rainmaker
1,244,485
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr James,

As cousin to Nutsy, I assure you that he can count anyone's nuts for them. He does not necessarily stick to his own. He is quite brilliant. Did he check yours for you when you were out this way.

Wheatloaf, online for vacationing cousin Nutsy

Aug 24, 2010 02:05 PM #9
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Mr. No-Hit-Wonder, I can assure you that if your cousin had tried counting anything of mine he would ended up on a spit.

Aug 25, 2010 12:38 AM #10
Rainer
86,824
Mike (Inspector Mike) Parks
The Parks Consulting Group, LLC - Circleville, OH
Inspector Mike

Let us know what the electrician says.

Breaker 3 = 1 AC

Breaker 4 = 1 AC

Breaker 1 = 1 cooktop

Breaker 5 = 1 dryer

Breaker 2 is probably the oven, is it a 40 or 50 AMP?

Looks OK to me. Just not labeled properly.

Aug 25, 2010 06:40 AM #11
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Mike, Breaker #2 is 60 Amp and may indeed be for the double oven, but there are no double pole breakers for the air handlers. Data plates state they are 220 volts are require 15 amp breakers Max. Looks to me like the panel is 2 double pole breakers short. Btw the two breakers that are marked for the A/C are too large according to the compressor data plates.

Aug 25, 2010 06:57 AM #12
Rainer
86,824
Mike (Inspector Mike) Parks
The Parks Consulting Group, LLC - Circleville, OH
Inspector Mike

The wrong breaker(s) is a good call.

Are you talking about breakers for the furnaces?

Aug 25, 2010 08:00 AM #13
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

2 air handlers, no heat. Each one is 220 volt, max breaker size 15 amp as per manufactures data plate.

Aug 25, 2010 08:09 AM #14
Rainer
86,824
Mike (Inspector Mike) Parks
The Parks Consulting Group, LLC - Circleville, OH
Inspector Mike

Not being there I call this a good call.

 

Aug 25, 2010 10:46 AM #15
Rainmaker
1,244,485
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr James,

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

Wheat, cousin to Nutsy

Aug 25, 2010 04:29 PM #16
Rainmaker
683,909
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Mike, Thanks for the vote of confidence.

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

Aug 26, 2010 12:40 AM #17
Rainmaker
1,244,485
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector

Mr James,

We agree on that one.

Wheat

Aug 26, 2010 11:42 AM #18
Rainmaker
192,518
Atlanta's Home Inspector, David Lelak IHI Home Inspections
IHI Home Inspections 404-788-2581 - Canton, GA
Experience the IHI Difference

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

Aug 19, 2011 05:52 AM #19
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James Quarello

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