Not Paying Attention in Science Class Can Lead to This

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

A bright ideaI know, I know, not everyone loves science class. Or math class. Or social studies. Or school. I for one did look forward to science class. Ironically my least favorite class was English. Hated all that writing and sentence structure stuff.

I always found electricity fascinating and have found I have a knack for understanding wiring concepts. Don't get me wrong, I am not by any stretch an electrical engineer or even close to being an electrician. I just have an easy time with many of the concepts.

For example, the rudimentary lesson in science class on how a circuit works. The very label "circuit" should be a clue. Of course to a 10 year old kid's brain, especially one who hates language class, the clue is lost like a pebble on a beach. Electricity flows in a circle. When something is placed into the flow, like a light bulb, that thing responds. We have light!

A dangling wire. What's wrong here?One of the experiments in class was to place one piece of wire on both ends of the battery (This would probably be deemed to "dangerous" today). What occurs quite quickly is that the wire gets very hot. This is a short circuit. The simplified reason for this happening is the lack of a light bulb or any electrically driven device somewhere in the circuit. Like water running down a hill, placing a dyke (light bulb) into the torrent slows down the flow. The same is true with the flow of electricity. An unchecked flow of excited electrons (called low impedance) creates heat. When this happens in a house wire, the circuit breaker trips.

During a recent home inspection, while looking over the electric panel, I saw that several circuit breakers were tripped. This being a foreclosed property that had just been de-winterized, I reasoned the circuits had not been turned on. Flipping the first breaker on, it loudly BUZZZZZZED and clicked off, just like it should when there is a short circuit. This of course is a red flag

NEVER cap the feed and neutral wires together!Later while inspecting the kitchen, I noticed the range hood was gone, the wiring left dangling like a twisted vine from the wall. Looking at the capped wires I saw that the person who was so safety conscious apparently wasn't cognizant of very basic electricity. The two circuit wires, the feed (black) and neutral or return (white) had been wire capped together. Like the wire on both ends of the battery, this creates a short circuit and explained the circuit breaker's response.

Looks to me like someone hated science class as much as I hated English class.

 

 

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:
Home Buying
Location:
Connecticut Hartford County
Groups:
Dedicated Bloggers
"Whacked"!!!
Diary of a Realtor
Bananatude
WeBlog Anything (almost)!
Tags:
home inspectors in connecticut ct
home inspections in connecticut ct
short circuits in connecticut house wiring

Post a Comment
Spam prevention
Spam prevention
Show All Comments
Rainmaker
488,107
Daniel J. Brudnok, REALTOR
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, REALTORS - Exton - PA License #RS-225179-L / Delaware License #RS-0025038 - Downingtown, PA
SRES, e-PRO,ABR,GREEN,CSP

Hi James,

Electricity repairs and inspections MUST left to the professional, always!

Apr 12, 2013 10:57 PM #1
Rainmaker
1,515,787
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County

My confidence level with electricity goes as far as plugging in a lamp! Leave it to the pros or risk death, or maybe a fire or both!

Apr 12, 2013 11:02 PM #2
Rainmaker
840,524
David Popoff
DMK Real Estate - Darien, CT
Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct

Good thing they had a professional like you to inspect, lucky the house did not burn down.

Apr 12, 2013 11:09 PM #3
Rainmaker
732,170
Linda Blumenthal
Hampton Crossing - Licensed Real Estate Salesperson - 631-466-4087 - Westhampton Beach, NY
NYS Licenced Real Estate Salesperson, CBR

Good morning James.  I don't think that the issue is whether or not the person paid attention in science class.  That is just plain reckless!

Apr 12, 2013 11:24 PM #4
Rainmaker
686,484
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Dan, Agreed.

Gary, You are a wise man to know not to mess with electricity. 

David, Not really a risk since the breaker was working, but....

Linda, Reckless for sure. 

Apr 13, 2013 12:02 AM #5
Rainmaker
490,619
Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Jim, That is sweet. Lucky it was not an FPE or Zinsco breaker ;) They must of been one wire nut short of a full bin ;)

Apr 13, 2013 12:44 AM #6
Rainmaker
1,846,440
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

The old lick test proves if that wire is hot every time!  Try it, you'll see.

Oh, and I have a new pair of PF Flyers, and you don't.

Apr 13, 2013 06:50 AM #7
Ambassador
1,334,006
Charles Buell
Charles Buell Inspections Inc. - Seattle, WA
Seattle Home Inspector

Jim, that is one of the special new wire nuts that is designed to "turn-off-keep-off" the breaker

Apr 13, 2013 03:42 PM #8
Rainmaker
1,846,440
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

Charlie is right.  The yellow color is to celebrate the Stones song with the lyrics, "It's a gas, gas, gas..."

But, no real "gas" obviously.  Gas here is an idiom.

 

;>)

Apr 13, 2013 09:51 PM #9
Rainmaker
568,100
Fred Hernden, CMI
Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area - Albuquerque, NM
Albuquerque area Master Inspector

The owner that had his home foreclosed on figured, "hey, I'm not leaving this sweet range hood behind" and took it with him when he left... he probably figured he was doing everybody a favor and at least making the house safe from a live exposed wire and capped it off!

By the way... did you hear Jay has a pair of new PF Flyers?

Apr 13, 2013 10:15 PM #10
Rainmaker
686,484
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

Don, Lucky indeed. A Zinsco would have made a fine welder :)

Jay, Lick with the toungue directly or lick the fingers and the apply? 

Charlie, And it does it very well.

Jay, Good thing there is no gas, gas, gas, or we might have boom, boom, boom.

Fred, Yep, I think that is most likely what happened. And no I hadn't heard ;)

Apr 13, 2013 10:29 PM #11
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
686,484

James Quarello

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