Electrical Cable Improperly Stripped And Connected

Home Inspector with Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC 3380-000723

Electrical cables need to have particular connections to be safe - they need to be clamped, and the insulation must remain intact and completely surrounding the electrical wires it protects.  Often I see an electrical cable improperly stripped and connected.

This is most common under disposals, but behind the dryer, I think, it may be even more important.

Rubber insulation around electrical cables is very important.

Look at any electrical cord.  It is insulated!

Most electrical cables have three individual wires inside - the hot black, the neutral white and a green ground wire.

They are bound together and protected by the insulation.

When they are put into an electrical junction box, fixture, or appliance, that insulation should still be intact!

The installer forgot an important step - the connector clamp.

Electrical appliances all come with a connector clamp in the box or kit.

See the round hole behind the dryer?  That separable plate is supposed to receive a clamp, screwed in before the cable is installed, with the screws loose but still attached.

The cable would go through the plate and screwed clamp, until the insulation is securely surrounded, and those screws tightened.  The electrical connections would be made and that plate would itself be screwed to the back of the dryer.


In those cases the clamp can accommodate the fatter cable.

This step takes an extra two minutes!  Many installers don't care and discard the clamp.  Many installers (homeowners and Uncle Bob) don't know and discard the clamp.


Seeing the insulation properly surrounded and the clamp securely installed is certainly BEST PRACTICE.

The reason I say it may be more important behind the dryer is that it utilizes a cable carrying 220 volts and packs a good punch!  If that dryer gets moved about, and the sharp edges of that opening cut into an exposed wire, it might make for an interesting drying experience!

My recommendation:  check under your disposal and dryer and see if the cable was stripped leaving insulation in place and that a clamp was properly used.  If not, you will know it was not a professional installation.  The clamp not only holds the cable in place, but also fills the hole such that IF a spark is created it is contained in an area intended to handle it.  Any spark getting out is about 2,500F and can ignite anything!

* Dryers are shipped now without plugs.  This is because some houses have a three-hole receptacle and some have a four.  Last summer our dryer fritzed.  Going to the store, and knowing about the three vs. four cable dryer plugs, I bought a dryer and the gentleman asked when our house was built.  I said 1998.  He said, "You are just on the cusp of the change between the three or four-hole dryer plugs.  Which do you have?"  AND I DIDN'T KNOW!  I had never looked!  He said, "You probably have a four, but call me if you do not."  When I got home I looked.  It is a three-prong hole!  So I called right away... 

That is proof, yet again, that home inspectors don't look at their own homes, but instead other people's.  Busted.



Posted by

Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560



Re-Blogged 2 times:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Gene Riemenschneider 06/02/2012 08:07 AM
  2. Winston Heverly 11/04/2012 12:41 AM
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Chris Smith
Re/Max Chay Realty Inc., Brokerage - New Tecumseth, ON
South Simcoe, Caledon, King, Orangeville Real Esta

One of so many things I have learned thank to your blog.  Thank You Jay.

Jun 02, 2012 04:05 AM #45
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jay, Like many I see the garbage disposal most often then I would guess it is water heaters that are next, at least here where they are almost always electric.

Them restraint/bushing dohickies are such a bother to install ; )

Jun 02, 2012 04:39 AM #46
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

The key to life is instruction Chris.  I get instructed every day on AR, which is why I tune in!

Don - thus said in #23 above.  I don't see water heaters missing clamps too much, but every now and then!

Jun 02, 2012 05:14 AM #47
Jana Holmstrup
Jana Holmstrup - VP Ops - Kings Mortgage Services, Inc. - Visalia, CA

Yeah, and the Electrician's wife always has the burned out lightbulbs - and the mortgage lender carries a 5.5% note...

Jun 02, 2012 05:42 AM #48
Lyn Sims
RE/MAX Suburban - Schaumburg, IL
Schaumburg IL Area Real Estate

Indeed ..... for an exciting drying experience grab the dryer just after the short out!

Jun 02, 2012 06:30 AM #49
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

Just another reason to hire someone that knows what they are doing.  This is not something I would ever think of.

Jun 02, 2012 07:29 AM #50
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Jana - that's the same syndrome as described above!  It seems to span all professions!

Lyn - that is trying to experience this problem first hand!

Gene - this may have been done professionally for all I know!  But for sure, have a knowledgeable person look at it.

Jun 02, 2012 07:40 AM #51
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear Jay,

Great observation. Have not seen the four-prong plugs, at least not consciously. I will pull one out at a new house next time, I think of it.

Jun 02, 2012 09:55 AM #52
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Most houses after 1998 or 1999 have four-pronged dryer recaptacles Dorte.  Look around and you will see them!

Jun 02, 2012 09:59 AM #53
Randy Ostrander
Lake and Lodge Realty LLC - Big Rapids, MI
Real Estate Broker, Serving Big Rapids and West Central MI

Good evening Jay. Not sure I have ever seen the back of my dryer other than to make sure no lint was escaping back there. I think electrical errors rate up there with the most common thing I see when showing houses and I use them to convince buyers they need a FULL inspection.

Jun 02, 2012 11:05 AM #54
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Randy - while electrical problems are certainly ubiquitous, houses are systems and one thing affects others.  That's the true benefit of home inspections, looking at and considering the entire system.

Jun 02, 2012 07:50 PM #55
Amanda S. Davidson
Amanda Davidson Real Estate Group - Alexandria, VA
Alexandria Virginia Homes For Sale

Jay- Congrats on your feature! You make a really good point and I'm sure you see it more often than not. I see the garbage disposal wires not secured properly a lot. I think the dryer might be even worse, not the type of shock factor I like!

Jun 02, 2012 10:17 PM #56
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Jay, saw two almost identical while out showing this week!  When I asked the listing agent about one, she acted like it was fine!

Jun 02, 2012 10:58 PM #57
Tom Bailey
Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc. - Oak Island, NC

Jay, You are a symbol of the old saying "the shoemaker's children have no shoes". All kidding aside a dryer scares me more than anything in the house. 

Jun 05, 2012 09:17 AM #58
Paul Gapski
Berkshire Hathaway / Prudential Ca Realty - El Cajon, CA
619-504-8999,#1 Resource SD Relo

Thank you for sharing your blog; we need Real estate Professionals to share their comments and information regarding their markets and experiences. Thanks again from beautiful Sunny San Diego.

Oct 19, 2012 08:23 AM #59
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Amanda - garbage disposals are the most common appliance improperly connected, as you say!

Bob - we don't know what we don't know...

Tom - I think you're right.  It can be the most dangerous appliance in the house.

Thanks for stopping by Paul.  I am sure San Diego is beautiful - I have never heard otherwise!

Oct 19, 2012 06:18 PM #60
Wayne B. Pruner
Oregon First - Tigard, OR
Tigard Oregon Homes for Sale, Realtor, GRI

That's a short waiting to happen. Great photo's and explanation.

Nov 02, 2012 12:53 PM #61
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

It's on its way any day now Wayne!  And they did that at the store, likely, before they delivered it!

Nov 02, 2012 08:58 PM #62
Elite Home Sales Team
Elite Home Sales Team OC - Corona del Mar, CA
A Tenacious and Skilled Real Estate Team

This is one of the common problems we have to be careful for.

Nov 04, 2012 12:43 AM #63
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

You found an oldie but a goodie Elite.  Thanks for stopping by!

Nov 04, 2012 03:54 AM #64
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Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
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