I Forgot - Twice

Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

We all forget things, it is part of being human. We get older, life gets more complicated, and so the memory banks occasionally lose stuff in the shuffle. As a home inspector there are many things that I need to check through out a house. I jog my memory by carrying a computer and entering information into each appropriate area, this serves to remind me of what needs to be checked. It's kind of like having crib notes, but not having to worry about getting detention.

Recently I did two inspections where I found the exact same defect in new electric panels. It made me wonder do electricians carry reminder sheets to make sure they did everything for each job. I'm going to have to ask the next time I run into an electrician.

Oops, forgot the strapThe first time was on brand new construction. The panel and the electrical in general were well done and I had found nothing seriously wrong through out the house. The last thing I usually inspect is the electric panel. When I opened the panel and initially looked inside, everything looked good.

One small detail I do look to see is present is the panel bonding screw or strap. The bonding screw/strap should be there and connected in a MAIN electric panel on the ground/neutral terminal. For those of you not electrically savvy, that is the place where the white and bare copper wires get connected. The purpose of the screw/strap is to bond the metal panel enclosure to ground. It is a means of protection in case the enclosure was to become energized.

In the new house the strap had been forgotten. I almost didn't see it myself because of the numerous wires in the way which I pried aside for the photo. This seemed like a plain and simple, but not excusable, over sight.

Where's the screw?The following day I find the same thing again except this panel is equipped with a screw. The bonding screw comes with the panel when purchased. The electrician must install it if it's required (there are instances where it should NOT be present).

Again the electrical was new (about 4 years) with no significant issues through out the home. This time however it was the screw that hadn't been installed.

Like so many electrical problems in service panels this is a very simple problem to fix. Also like many of these problems it presents a potential safety hazard until it's rectified.

I think a reminder sheet for electricians might be a good thing to prevent them from forgetting things - twice.




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

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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:

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


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Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Schematics for electrical layout..sparky reads them. As for making mistakes, Billy Joel says, sang you and I are only human, we're suppose to make mistakes.

Nov 27, 2010 12:13 AM #1
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I'm the first to comment, I'm the first to comment!

Maybe the same electrician was present at both boxes and trying to start a new wave of electrical installation.  That stuff's too clever for Uncle Bob...


OK, I'm the second comment...

Nov 27, 2010 12:14 AM #2
Nor Yeretsian
Envoy Capitol Realty Inc. - Toronto, ON
Envoy Capitol Realty Inc., Brokerage Toronto

Take nothing for Granted ...

Thanks for the post , James.


Nor Yeretsian

Nov 27, 2010 12:14 AM #3
TeamCHI - Complete Home Inspections, Inc.
Complete Home Inspections, Inc. - Brentwood, TN
Home Inspectons - Nashville, TN area - 615.661.029

Good morning James. Forget once, shame on me. Forget twice, get a new electrician...

Nov 27, 2010 12:19 AM #4
Dagny Eason
Dagny's Real Estate - Wilton, CT
Fairfield County CT, CDPE Homes For Sale and Condo

Good for you for spotting that!  I go along with my buyers on their inspections, and I'll be watching for this one from now on ....

Nov 27, 2010 12:25 AM #5
Cindy Edwards
RE/MAX Checkmate - Johnson City, TN
CRS, GRI, PMN - Northeast Tennessee - 423-677-6677

Age is a funny thing....  I love lists, check lists, reminder lists, grocery lists..and in this case, inspector lists!

Nov 27, 2010 12:30 AM #6
Ed Silva
RE/MAX Professionals, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

James, so often items like this are found, and for the lucky buyer the seller will correct before closing. Some buyers will elect to take a credit but don't always use the credit for it's intended purpose. I will insist that items be repaired and corrected before closing just as a protection against the buyers themselves.

Nov 27, 2010 12:31 AM #7
Dennis Duvernay Broker/Owner
Hillview Realty - Northbridge, MA

James I had a good comment for this but I FORGOT it....LOL

Nov 27, 2010 12:35 AM #8
Pam Dent
Gayle Harvey Real Estate, Inc. - Charlottesville, VA
REALTORĀ® - Charlottesville Virginia Homes / Horse

I have seen several problems in electrical boxes lately on homes inspections that I have attended.  Nothing really major, but all things to be addressed for safety.

Nov 27, 2010 12:38 AM #9
Mike Leibel
CIR Realty - Condo Specialist - Calgary, AB
Associate Broker - REALTORĀ®

Great suggestion, or just have them regulated, like REALTORS®.  That way they would have hundreds of well meaning bureaucrats looking over their shoulder at every little thing they do, and have them brought into inquiry panels by their local boards, who wages they pay, and hand out outrageous fines for the smallest thing.  That might fix it. 

Nov 27, 2010 12:42 AM #10
James Harner
Considering Selling Your Home? Call 610-310-7646 first - Royersford, PA
James Harner Group - Philadelphia PA Real Estate

Its good to have an inspector like you, James! I guess JAMES's come in handy once in a while! wink wink! Great post, and very informative. thanks for explaining stuffs for the non-savvy electrical people. Keep up the good work!

Nov 27, 2010 12:43 AM #11
Don MacLean
Simolari & MacLean REMAX EXECUTIVE REALTY - Franklin, MA
Realtor - Homes For Sale - Franklin MA

Next time you see the electrician pick him up a bouquet of forget me notes and a note pad.

Enjoy the day

Nov 27, 2010 01:11 AM #12
Jim Allhiser
Perfection Inspection, Inc. - Salem, OR
Salem, Oregon Home Inspector

It is very rare for an electrical box to be perfect.  Always something to gripe about.

Nov 27, 2010 01:29 AM #13
Craig Rutman
Helping people in transition - Cary, NC
Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor

And this is the reason I'm adamant about my buyers having a professional home inspection performed.

Nov 27, 2010 04:38 AM #14
Steven L. Smith
King of the House Home Inspection, Inc. - Bellingham, WA
Bellingham WA Home Inspector


Sometimes getting a gander inside some of the panels I see, full of wires, it can be mighty tough to locate that bonding bar but I try.

Nov 27, 2010 09:30 AM #15
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Andrew, Both these panels should have been inspected by the building officials in each town. Those mistakes should have been caught.

Jay, Could be and definitely no Uncle Bob.

Nor, I try to never take anything for granted, experience has taught me it's a bad habit to fall into.

Michael, Yep, sounds like a plan.

Dagny, I always want the buyers agent on the inspection. Actually in my opinion they should be there so when issues come up I can communicate the information to the buyer and their agent.

Cindy, It does seem the mind intermittently loses its grasp of information as we get older.

Ed, I have re-inspected homes years later for a new buyer and find the same problems present and uncorrected. The attraction of powerful is powerful.

Dennis, ....Wait it's on the tip of my tongue :)

Pam, There rarely are "major" issues in panels, but yes many of ones that are found need to be addressed for safety considerations.

Mike, Aren't electrician licensed and therefore regulated?

James, (awesome name ;)) Thanks, I'm glad you found it informative.

Don, Great suggestion.

Jim, I find more than a few that are okay.

Craig, Glad to were able to stop by during your hectic holiday weekend. You've probably been busy washing sand out of your trunks.

Steve, For sure. Sometimes they are so packed with wires it makes it difficult to get a good look.

Nov 27, 2010 11:55 PM #16
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

I think you're being too easy on the electricians, James.  Do you need a reminder sheet to check for this?  Probably not.  

Nov 28, 2010 06:41 AM #17
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Reuben, I would have to disagree based on experience. Looks like at least these two electricians DO need a reminder sheet. :)

Nov 28, 2010 11:55 PM #18
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