Louisville KY Home Inspection Reveals ‘Open Ground’ Electrical Issues

Outlet

On an inspection Friday I discovered that several basement outlets tested as having an ‘open ground’. If you inspector tells you that you have an outlet that has an open ground it is more than likely a three prong outlet that has a loose ground wire. The three prong outlets have a Hot, Neutral, and Ground and if any of these wires becomes loose it show during the inspection.

An open ground occurs whenever the ground wire is not correctly attached to the outlet or in some cases the wiring for the house does not have a ground wire. In some older home the wiring only had two wires, the hot wire and the neutral wire. If there is no ground wire present in the house wiring, then a three prong outlet is not a solution and should not be used. The only exception would be to install a GFCI outlet and place a sticker that states “NO Equipment Ground”. The outlet will still not be grounded but with the GFCI protection, it will be safer than a regular two prong outlet or a three prong outlet with an open ground. An electrician can make this repair for you.

If your home has a three wires system the repair can be easier to achieve. Remember also that it is not uncommon for more than one outlet to test as an open ground as the outlets are usually installed in a ‘stream.’ This stream will cause outlets that are between the offending outlet and the end of the stream to also test as open.  It could simply be a lose wire on the outlet or it could also be a loose ground in the electrical panel.  While this is can be an easy repair on a three wire system, it is always best to consult and electrician to make any needed repairs.  One wrong more in an electrical panel could be your last.

Oops..Plumbing Find

Plumbing can be one of the bigger concerns for a home buyer. Most of the plumbing is hidden behind walls and under floors. On this inspection we discovered a small plumbing back-up. Normally we do not get this lucky to find these during the inspection:

Louisville Ky Home Inspector Finds Water Heater Safety Issue

Check out this latest personalized travel cups video concerning water heaters. This is the latest Louisville Ky Home Inspection find: Read more on www.portableacnerd.com

Louisville Ky Home Inspection Finds: Plumbing

The following video will show you one reason whay you should get a home inspection. This is a home owner that tried to put in a new drain line. He did the best he could, but this is not the best way to handle this.

Louisville Ky Inspector Finds Exterior Drainage Issue

I know that this has been mentioned on the site before, but on my inspection Saturday again there were downspouts that discharged the water next to the foundation of the home. The downspouts will produce large amounts of water over time and if the discharge water is let flow along the foundation walls, over time trouble will appear. The solution is simple, you can either install some of the downspout extenders found at retail outlets, or if you have a fairly steep grade, you can install underground pipes.

The same is true of your sump pump discharge tube. I find many of these terminating at the foundation. Keep in mind that most sump pumps are installed to remove water from the foundation perimeter through a drain tile system. IF your discharge tube is simply dumping the water back against the foundation then what good is the drain? This can be solved in most cases by simply extending the tube away from the foundation. Get the tube out about 24″ and that should help.

You need to do all that you can to reduce the amount of water that is running against you foundation. Water is the enemy of your home.

Louisville Ky Home Inspection Tip of the Week: Space Heaters

It is that time of year again that we get those electric heaters out of the basement, dust them off and plug them in.  However; please remember that there are news stories every year where a space heater was left unattended and led to tragedy. Please follow some basic rules when using a space heater:

  1. Look for one that is listed with a nationally-recognized testing laboratory, and make sure the brand you’re buying has passed all infrared heater reviews in a positive maner.
  2. Purchase a heater with a guard around the heating element.
  3. As much as we like to remove something from the box and plug it is, please read and follow the instructions for its operation and maintenance.
  4. You should not use an extension cord with an electric heater.
  5. Never run the heater’s cord (or any cord) under rugs or carpeting as says. The cord could overheat causing fires.
  6. Do not leave the heater operating unattended or operating while sleeping. These heaters are for use when attended and only intended for use as a backup, not a main heat source. 
  7. Do not have the electric heaters near water.
  8. Keep small children away from the heater. They may tip it over or touch the elements. 
  9. As always do not use the heater as a dryer for clothes.
  10. PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU HAVE OPERATING SMOKE DETECTORS!

Louisville Ky Home Inspection Tips: Outside Faucets

Burst Pipe

This can happen to YOU!

I was on an inspection Friday and noticed that the front water spicket had not been turned off for the winter.  We have been fairly fortunate so far this year in Louisville, Ky that it has not been bitter cold.  It is expected to be just that this upcoming week, so if you have not yet turned off your exterior faucets, now is the time to do that. 

 Most of the handles should be accessible.  If you have a basement they should be visible. If you cannot locate them, start at the water heater and follow the cold water lines out from there and you will find them.  The shut off could be very close to the water heater, or closer to the spicket.

If your house is built on a slab, the shut offs can be below sinks or again close the water heater.  Homes on crawl spaces could have them inside the crawl space as well.  If you cannot locate the valve give me a call and I will help you find it. 

One you have turned off the interior shut off valve; you should open the exterior spicket and let any remaining water drip out.  Leave the valve open.  This simple tip could keep you from a potential burst pipe and some unwanted winter flood.

Louisville Ky Home Inspection Find: Reverse Polarity Outlet

“Reverse polarity” is the term that is used when electrical wires are connected to the wrong terminals (screws) on an outlet or light. While generally not dangerous, it can become dangerous if the “hot” side of the electrical circuit gets connected to certain appliances.

It is a fairly common issue found in inspections due to the fact that it is an easy mistake to make. It is easy to reverse to wires and and since the receptacles work fine even when the polarity is reversed it is not really noticed unless it is inspected. If you suspect your home has other wiring issues, then it is a good idea to check for reverse polarity.

You can purchase a simple tester for less than $15. Just plug it into all the receptacles; test both the top and bottom. If you discover that one or more of the outlets is reverse polarity:

1) SHUT OFF THE BREAKER FOR THIS OUTLET! (the tester’s lights will go out).

2) Remove the cover plate, then use a wiring tester to be certain that there are not other hot wires in this receptacle.

3) Release (or unscrew) the wires from the outlet and reposition on the correct terminal–white to the silver (neutral terminal) and black to the brass (hot terminal). The bare or green wire should connect to the green screw.

4) Put the cover plate back on, turn the circuit back on, and test the receptacle again. If the tester indicates reverse polarity but the wires are hooked up to the proper terminals, call an electrician.

Please if you do not feel comfortable with removing the outlet cover or removing the outlet (or if you do not know what a circuit breaker is) please call an electrician. While this is an easy repair for a person with some experience, it is still electrical and if you remove the cover without the power cut, you can hurt or even kill yourself.

Louisville Ky Home Inspection finds brought to by Know Before You Buy Home Inspection Services Louisville Ky

Louisville, Ky Home Inspector Finds Deck Lacking Proper Supports

I was on an inspection Tuesday in Crestwood looking over a very nice home.  The home had a nice wrap around porch/deck that went across the front and side of the home.  On first glance all appeared well, however; the deck was not properly attached to the home.  It has been an all to a familiar tale of a deck collapsing due to an increased load and improper supports.  This deck has several issues, but the one causing the most concern is lag bolt spacing. A deck attached to a home is generally attached using a ledger board.  It is this board that all of the joists are anchored to, and this is the board that holds the deck to the home. 

The ledger board should have lag bolts installed every 16″ to 24″, or as determined by the length of the joists.  Some of these were 36″ or more aprart.   The longer the floor joist the closer the together the lag bolts should be placed.  You can look up lag bolt spacing and see if your lag bolts supporting your deck are sufficient.

Another issue with this deck was the post holding the deck up were only supported by two nails in each at the top.  Due to the height of this deck, the posts had already begun to bow significantly.  The load factor and the attachment of the posts could lead to failure over time.  Fortunately both of these are relatively easy fixes and once completed the home owner will have years of enjoyment out of this large inviting deck. 

Thank you very much for your home inspection.

Thank you very much for your home inspection.  Without your services, we would have ended up with a house that needed some very important work done to it and we would have been stuck footing the bill.  Your services were efficient and you were patient and detailed when explaining everything.
Thanks for your work!

Mitch”