Do you check the wall plugs?

Reblogger Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Home Builder with Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366 CSL#642819


The importance of a thorough electrical inspection is often under rated. Greg and Richard explanwhat can be discovered during  an inspection.


Check out their blog post and leave a comment.





Original content by Greg Madsen and Richard McGarry

We call them electrical receptacles. Some people call them electrical outlets and, yes, we do check them. Not every single one because receptacles are often behind furniture or stored items that are not readily movable; but we spot-check at least one in each room.

   Two circuit analysis tools, one low-tech and one high-tech, are used: a simple 3-light tester that checks wiring configuration, and also a more sophisticated circuit analyzer that checks voltage, voltage drop under load, resistance to ground, plus tests GFCI and AFCI receptacles.

   Before we go into what defects the electrical receptacles are tested for, let’s review the basics of receptacle wiring. A modern receptacle that accepts a 3-prong plug has a specific designation for each opening: the shorter of the two narrow slots connects to the “hot” wire (the one that can shock you), and the taller slot is the “neutral” (which completes the circuit), and the round hole is the “ground” (an alternate safety route for electricity that has gone astray, not found in pre-1960 2-slot receptacles). Each of the three wires in a typical 120-volt electrical cable must be connected securely to the right receptacle terminal for it to function correctly.

 Here’s some typical defects we find:

 Reverse Polarity
   If the wires going to the hot and neutral terminals are switched, you have reverse polarity. While this defect does not affect the operation of simple appliances like a lamp, it can make them more dangerous. In the correct wiring configuration, the hot wire is connected to the button at the bottom of the light socket and the neutral is connected to the socket threads. When replacing a bulb in lamp that is connected to a receptacle that is wired properly, it is difficult to be shocked by the small button at the bottom of the socket. But a reverse polarity receptacle electrifies the threaded socket, making it more likely that you will be shocked when changing a light bulb.

 Older 2-Slot Receptacle
   Two-slot receptacles, the ungrounded type that were typical in homes before 1960, are considered safe and we do not list them as needing repair. However they are noted, because 2-slot receptacles will not accept the 3-prong plug on the cord of many new appliances, that require a ground connection to work properly, and this may prove to be an inconvenience.
   Homeowners in older homes sometimes succumb to an easy, but unsafe, solution to plugging the 3-prong cord on their new refrigerator to the 2-slot receptacle behind it. They use a conversion gadget we call a “cheater plug.” It has 2 prongs on the back side and three-slots on the front, along with a short wire for connection to the screw at the front of the receptacle box cover--although the receptacle box is rarely actually grounded. We always call out cheater plugs for repair.

No Ground
   Another shortcut for upgrading older homes to accept 3-prong plugs is replacement of 2-slot receptacles with 3-slot receptacles, even though there is no ground connection available. This is a typical defect in older homes that have had a quick, cheap remodeling to be “flipped,” and it is a serious safety defect.

 False Ground
   Yet another shortcut to installing 3-slot receptacles in an older home is a “false ground,” where the ground slot is connected to the neutral terminal of the receptacle. Again, no ground connection exists and we call it out for repair.

 No Neutral
  When our circuit tester indicates no neutral connection, it usually a loose wire in the receptacle box or the main panel.

 High Resistance to Ground
   In order for the ground to work properly as a safety device, it must have a low resistance to the flow of electric current so that a breaker is tripped quickly when electricity starts flowing to the ground. Electrical resistance is measured in ohms, and 1.0 ohms is the recommended maximum resistance.

 Low Voltage
   The nominal voltage for household receptacles is 120 volts, but between 110 and 130 volts is acceptable. We note if the voltage at receptacle is outside this range.

 Excessive Voltage Drop Under Load
  Voltage is a measure of electrical force, which is comparable to water pressure in a plumbing system. When a standard 15-amp load (approximating a large household appliance or several smaller ones) is applied to a 120-volt household  circuit, the voltage drops somewhat. The maximum acceptable voltage drop is 5%. More than that indicates poor wire connections, damaged, or undersize wires.

 Non-Functional GFCI-Device
   We “pop” and reset GFCI receptacles and breakers to test them. Like any mechanical device, they begin to fail as they age.

 Non-Functional AFCI-Device
   We “pop” and reset AFCI-breakers to test them. They also begin to fail with age and, occasionally, we find defective new ones.

 Dead Receptacle
   Any receptacle that is not supplying current is marked for repair.


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Elite Home Sales Team
Elite Home Sales Team OC - Corona del Mar, CA
A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team

Oh yes we have had all the homes sold in the last 6 years or more checked and the electrical receptical also.

Nov 12, 2011 06:11 PM #1
Ronald DiLalla
Century 21 Discovery DRE 01813824 - Anaheim, CA
No. Orange Cty Real Estate

I had the recepticals checked at my home and had them all replaced, justin the past year....I always insist on every outlet checked that is visible on all homes that are inspected.

Nov 12, 2011 06:42 PM #2
Joe Petrowsky
Mortgage Consultant, Right Trac Financial Group, Inc. NMLS # 2709 - Manchester, CT
Your Mortgage Consultant for Life

I will share this post with my Realtor partners. Thank you for sharing.

Nov 12, 2011 09:48 PM #3
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Glad that I reblogged this for you guys!

Nov 14, 2011 12:32 PM #4
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