Dropping the Ball

By
Home Inspector with JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC HOI 394

There are times when we put forth our best effort and come up short of our goal. If it’s a personal goal, we have usually disappointed no one but ourselves. When working / playing on a team, it can be a let down for the entire group. Reminds me of the kicker from the game on Sunday. Who would want to be that guy?

It seems of late I have been inspecting quite a few modular homes. First of all I do not think they are inferior to stick built homes. In fact there are some qualities of the construction process I think are superior to site built houses.Modular home wire splices in an attic

And some I think are not.

One of these aspects is the house wiring. Since the house is built in sections or modules, the wiring has to be connected from section to section. This is accomplished by splices done using a type of locking plug. These connections are in addition to the splices made during the course of wiring up the house. Splices are weak points in any circuit and should be kept to a minimum. Knowing that these splices exist I tend to check the electrical outlets a bit more thoroughly. I do this by using my fancy tester. This tester has features I will never use, but has a few that give me very insightful information. One of these is voltage drop.

Measured voltage drop at an outletVoltage drop is what happens in a circuit when a load is applied, like when you turn on your TV or the microwave. The appliance draws current causing a drop in the voltage. The amount of voltage drop should be minimal, ideally no more than 5% according to electrical industry standards. The other parameter is the voltage associated with the drop. Ideally it should not be less than 108 volts under load.

When I tested the first outlet in the house, the drop was over 22% with a measured voltage of 93.8. I found many more outlets throughout the newer, modular structure with similar amounts of drop. A large amount of drop is indicative of high resistance in the circuit. High resistance is created at connection points.

The culprit more often than not is the connection at the outlet. Removing the cover plate I wasn’t at all surprised to see the outlets had been connected by “back stabbing”. This method is acceptable though not what would be called a best practice. Back stabbing is connecting the wires to the back of the receptacle inside a pressure type connection. The wire is inserted into a hole and is locked in place. The connection however is not as strong as one made using the screws at the sides of the outlet. Basically back stabbing is done because it is faster and easier.

Back stabbed outlet in a Connecticut modular home

What are the consequences of excessive voltage drop? Over heating wires, and with use over time potentially a fire. In addition with low voltage damage can occur to appliances.

With this amount of voltage drop in the houses wiring, I think the quality control at the factory may have dropped the ball.

 

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

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. Learn more about our home energy audits, the Home Energy Tune uP®.

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

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.

close

This entry hasn't been re-blogged:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
Topic:
ActiveRain Community
Location:
Connecticut New Haven County
Groups:
Dedicated Bloggers
"Whacked"!!!
Addicted to Active Rain
Bananatude
WeBlog Anything (almost)!
Tags:
home inspectors in connecticut ct
voltage drop in connecticut ct houses
inspecting modular homes in connecticut ct

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
119,102
Rob Rosa
Berkshire Hathaway - Wethersfield, CT
Personal Real Estate Expert

Hi Jim, I definitely learned from this post and appreciate the insight.  Keep up the good job on inspections!

Jan 27, 2012 06:45 AM #29
Rainmaker
1,431,210
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Shocking Home Inspection Stories!  I get a charge out of them.  No more bad puns.  Thanks for the post.

Jan 27, 2012 12:02 PM #30
Rainmaker
1,675,919
Winston Heverly
Winston Realty, Inc. - Atlantis, FL
GRI, ABR, SFR, CDPE, CIAS, PA

When I was building the use of 14 wire is where this problem could or would occur. The wire is not thick enough to grab with a secure fit into the holes. There was less problems with 12 wire because the wire is thicker. The practice also takes place when there are more feeds off the receptacle than the ability to use the screws on the side. Please note factory building doesn't hire the best craftsman especially mobile homes. In my experience the quality control has a lot to be desired. Does Nanticoke Homes ring a bell to anyone living in the Mid-Atlantic?

Jan 27, 2012 01:25 PM #31
Anonymous
Peter Michelbach

Thank you James for sharing - I have learned a lot from your great posts. Thus, always get a professional Home Inspector. Be well.

Jan 27, 2012 01:54 PM #32
Rainer
40,364
Jimmy Phan
KELLER WILLIAMS REALTY IN MOORESVILLES, NC - Hickory, NC
Phan real estate group in hickory

good to acquire all these knowledges James

out of my field.

so i absorded them all

thanks for sharing James

jimmy phan

Jan 27, 2012 03:04 PM #33
Rainmaker
180,172
Karen Steed
Tallapoosa, Bremen, Waco, Buchanan, Temple, Carrollton - Tallapoosa, GA
Associate Broker Haralson Realty

Hi James - An agent from the office and I were showing a modular home recently, and I looked good, but I had never considered how it was wired after it was set up.  Is the remedy to redo the outlets?  Can it really ever be fixed?

Jan 27, 2012 04:30 PM #34
Rainmaker
684,509
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Charlie, Many things in the codes don't make sense :)

Zuhls, Honestly this is close to my limitations. I leave the rest up to an expert.

Christine, Funky and wiring should never be used together in the same sentence :)

Lyn, I wouldn't say this a problem exclusive to modular homes, just that knowing what I know, I look for it when inspecting a modular.

Linda, That's the thing with electricity you can't actually see it and wiring to most people looks like spaghetti. 

Curtis, Glad to provide you with some important insight.

Hi Rob, Nice to see you drop by and thanks. 

Gene, Grooooan. My advice, keep you day job :)

Jan 28, 2012 01:13 AM #35
Rainmaker
684,509
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Winston, You touch on several good points. With the thinner wire, the voltage drop occurs more readily as well. As for the quality of the factories work force, it's not unlike any product, some are better than others. 

Peter, Thanks, hope you're passing along the advice.

Jimmy, Knowledge takes time and effort to acquire. It's a never ending process.

Karen, Yes I believe it can be fixed by a licensed electrician. 

Jan 28, 2012 01:19 AM #36
Rainmaker
508,351
Sylvie Stuart
Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765 - Flagstaff, AZ
Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta
I learn so much from these posts! I learned something again today! Keep em coming! Thank you!
Jan 28, 2012 01:29 AM #37
Rainmaker
684,509
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Sylvie, If you learned something, then I accomplished my goal. I will do my best to keep em coming. Thanks.

Jan 28, 2012 02:54 AM #38
Rainmaker
200,319
Debbie Holmes
Gold Key Real Estate - Boise, ID
Gets the job done!

Great post... I have seen some modular home but that is interesting....

Jan 28, 2012 10:51 AM #39
Rainer
35,261
Stephen Robert Sliwka
Goden Key Realty - Franklin Township, NJ
Realtor, Somerset County New Jersey

I put up a modular house for sale about 6 years ago; when the buyers had a home inspection done they found that one receptacle wasn't working, due to a loose connection within the receptacle, backstabbing; again we see that minimal code compliance can bring problems. The world seems to be pushing ahead faster and faster, but there is no replacement for good workmanship.

Jan 28, 2012 12:56 PM #40
Rainmaker
684,509
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Debbie, I see them more and more. I'm sure they will continue to grow as part of the housing stock.

Stephen, That's the truth. There will never be a substitute for quality. 

Jan 28, 2012 11:39 PM #41
Rainer
219,821
Michael Rasch
Florida Home Sales and Investments - Hallandale Beach, FL
Michael Rasch 305-741-1819

What I finding interesting, and it's important tha tpeople note this ...

people get what they pay for. and a good inspector saves money in the long run.

I just spend 40 minutes explaning on how an inspector that I used, saved me from 2 deals, each problem found had a huge cost associated with it. 

Jan 29, 2012 12:17 AM #42
Rainmaker
684,509
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Michael, What I find interesting is people research homes and mortgages and then hire a home inspector without doing their homework first. As you say some simply go for price. 

Jan 29, 2012 12:53 AM #43
Rainmaker
233,467
Reuben Saltzman
Structure Tech Home Inspections - Minneapolis, MN
Delivering the Unbiased Truth.

I hate that back-stabbed outlets.  Every single 15 amp outlet in my house was wired that way, and I'm slowing changing them over to new TR outlets, wired on the screw terminals.  The way God intended.

Jan 29, 2012 10:43 AM #44
Rainmaker
838,032
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi James, great post and points especially the back stabbing.  That would scare me!

Jan 29, 2012 10:05 PM #45
Rainmaker
684,509
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Reuben, The outlets in my house were the same. I have long since changed them all.

Bob, There are many, many houses with back stabbed outlets. 

Jan 29, 2012 10:28 PM #46
Rainer
7,488
Brian Amen
Raveis Real Estate - Greenwich, CT

Jim, your inspection was flawless.  The best I've seen.  My clients are still pursuing the home, and the insights you had were invaluable.  Job well done!

Jan 30, 2012 03:52 AM #47
Rainmaker
684,509
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Hi Brian, Thanks, you are way too kind. I certainly hope all works out for the best.

Jan 30, 2012 09:12 AM #48
Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Show All Comments

What's the reason you're reporting this blog entry?

Are you sure you want to report this blog entry as spam?

Rainmaker
684,509

James Quarello

Connecticut Home Inspector
Ask me a question
*
*
*
*
Spam prevention