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Thread: home inspector fails house with Aluminum wiring

  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevenfyeager View Post
    A home inspector just failed a house with aluminum wiring because all the outlets, switches, and light fixtures are not AL rated. He is saying all the devices have to be replaced with AL-Cu types. And all the light fixtures have to have the barrel AL-Cu connectors. Is the seller responsible to pay to have this done? AL devices are about $3 apiece, and the labor for every junction in the whole house would be expensive. Thank you.
    Quote Originally Posted by Mark A. View Post

    I'm amazed though, that's a thorough inspector. Did he scope the sewer pipes too?

    I'm thinking this may not have been a regular home inspection.

    If the buyer were getting something like an FHA loan to buy the property they send out their own inspector or at least inspectors they trust to meet certain inspection criteria. They tend to dig a little deeper than other home inspections.

    If this was just a regular home inspector I agree he was good. I'm always on the side of the buyer because I hate to see people cheated on a home sale. Once they know the facts they can do whatever they wish but at least they know what they are buying.
    The 95% of people that you can't trust give the other 5% a bad name.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by petersonra View Post
    I don't think it is legalistically correct to say he "failed" it. He did point out some legitimate issues that the buyer should at least know about going into the deal.

    Beyond that, it is up to the buyer, seller, mortgage holder, and insurer to collectively determine what if any corrective action is made, or who pays for it if some action is taken.

    Personally, I do not think it is appropriate for the HI to be recommending what the fix should be for any problem he finds with the house. That should be up to a professional in that line of work, and not the HI.
    Quote Originally Posted by Little Bill View Post
    Funny how the HI even knows if the devices are correct or not. I say that because I hear them say all the time that they don't/won't/can't remove devices. They only remove the panel covers. They don't (at least in my area) even take the device cover plates off.

    I always thought it odd that they will remove a panel cover but not a switch or receptacle cover!
    I don't run into HI's, but sometimes get asked to give an electrical inspection on a property for sale - which I hate to do as I feel if I tell them things are Ok that leaves me some liability should something happen shortly thereafter and they try to come back on me as saying it was safe
    But I don't know how you would ever know about bootleg equipment grounds or be able to warn people about "back stabbed" devices and the potential problems that they could have if you can't take the covers off.

    Before anyone goes on about "back stabs" being legal - I know that, but if I am making the report I will note that such connections are present and that though they are legal they have still been a concern in many instances of being a weak connection and source of a "hot spot" and that those involved need to be aware of it.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwired View Post
    But I don't know how you would ever know about bootleg equipment grounds or be able to warn people about "back stabbed" devices and the potential problems that they could have if you can't take the covers off.

    Before anyone goes on about "back stabs" being legal - I know that, but if I am making the report I will note that such connections are present and that though they are legal they have still been a concern in many instances of being a weak connection and source of a "hot spot"
    An Ideal Sure Test will identify bootleg grounds without removeing the receptacle or cover. But a home inspection is not required to discover bootleg grounds.

    You really can't go around warning people about back stabs. They would have to warn people of 99% of the houses that I work on. A lot of time fixing problems with those back stabs.
    The 95% of people that you can't trust give the other 5% a bad name.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by growler View Post
    ...You really can't go around warning people about back stabs. They would have to warn people of 99% of the houses that I work on. A lot of time fixing problems with those back stabs.
    Well, there's "going around warning people..." and then there's being asked for my professional opinion. For the latter, I most certainly can tell them exactly what I think and have witnessed. Indeed, that's exactly what they are paying me for.

    The NEC is largely a reactionary document, based on the experiences of electricians. Just because it hasn't been amended YET, we KNOW backstabs are a bad idea and can use professional judgment, not just in our installations, but in our recommendations. There really isn't a way for bribes to be involved in getting these disallowed, so it may take some time.

  5. #25
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    Where I live, thorough inspections are the norm. It's nothing to have a 30 or 40 page Report with five or six pages dedicated just to electrical.

    And the inspectors around here open up a sample size of the openings if they see the potential that they might need to make other notes. If they open the panel and see all aluminum wiring, they will almost certainly open up one receptacle in every room.

    And you don't even need to go further than removing the plate to see that a receptacle is not rated for aluminum. The lug screws are different.

    it's also possible that the inspector has a background in electrical work. Around 8 years ago, I became certified for home inspections. I never did any official inspections, I was just trying to shore myself up after the 2009 recession.

    But I still work with a couple of Realtors who will ask me to do a pre-inspection just so the seller will have an idea what kind of repairs and how much money they might be looking at when a real inspection is done

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by MAC702 View Post
    Well, there's "going around warning people..." and then there's being asked for my professional opinion. For the latter, I most certainly can tell them exactly what I think and have witnessed. Indeed, that's exactly what they are paying me for.

    The NEC is largely a reactionary document, based on the experiences of electricians. Just because it hasn't been amended YET ,We KNOW that back stabs are a bad idea and can use professional judgment, not just in our installations, but in our recommendations. There really isn't a way for bribes to be involved in getting these disallowed, so it may take some time.
    OK I don't like back stabs and don't terminate that way but the devices that have that have back stabs are UL approved.

    I can give and opinion that it's not the best practice and that I have noticed problems with back stabbing but I don't see that they will ever be eliminated. There are just to many contractors wiring new homes that are not about to give them up and I doubt that UL is about to admit they were wrong and that they should not have been approved.

    The NEC is a set of "minimum" safety standards and not a design manual. The back stabs obviously meet the criteria for minimum safety.

    I don't know of any inspection criteria that would fail a house for useing the back stab terminations. Not FHA, VA, HUD, section eight houseing or any other. It is an approved method of wiring.

    It would be hard for a home inspector to write is up as a fault just because it's not the best wiring method.
    The 95% of people that you can't trust give the other 5% a bad name.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwired View Post
    I don't run into HI's, but sometimes get asked to give an electrical inspection on a property for sale - which I hate to do as I feel if I tell them things are Ok that leaves me some liability should something happen shortly thereafter and they try to come back on me as saying it was safe
    But I don't know how you would ever know about bootleg equipment grounds or be able to warn people about "back stabbed" devices and the potential problems that they could have if you can't take the covers off.

    Before anyone goes on about "back stabs" being legal - I know that, but if I am making the report I will note that such connections are present and that though they are legal they have still been a concern in many instances of being a weak connection and source of a "hot spot" and that those involved need to be aware of it.

    I have been performing commercial inspections for 35 years, with some residential (maybe 2 a year). You have to outline what you inspected and add caveats for the hidden stuff. We will point out stuff we find questionable or borderline. We would note that the place had backstabbed.


    In the end, if someone is going to sue you they are going to sue you, I have been involved in several lawsuits and it all revolved around bankruptcies, never had an issue to date regarding our inspection and testing.
    Brian John
    Leesburg, VA

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by user 100 View Post
    So this HI is the AHJ?

    I am aware of the NEC definition of approved- the CPSC ref above had nothing to do w/ AHJ approval of anything- just pointing out that the alumiconns have been found to be a satisfactory repair for AL wiring by said agency.

    I am confident that the op also knows that his AHJ is the "be all, end all" for any method, but just in case he is not-

    From ART 100-

    Approved: Acceptable to the area having jurisdiction.

    In short, if in doubt, contact your AHJ, instead of taking the word of a HI who is proposing a needlessly expensive solution. And if it turns out that the HI was right on target and copalum is what is required for that area, more power to him. Yet still, he should just refer clients to an electrician and slink away.
    I don't think I implied or said the HI is the AHJ. Heck I doubt that this repair work would require a permit or the AHJ getting involved.
    However it is certainly the prerogative for a HI to point out any and all issues with a home he is inspecting. I applaud a HI noting this particular issue. I noted in the other posts I highly doubt that the home had original devices installed in the 70's. So if he noticed this he was correct. This is no different than the HI noting double wires at a breaker when not listed. Or for that matter any other code violation or problem with the home.

    I would think that if you had a family member purchasing a home across country that you are not able to inspect , you would like someone this thorough.
    That is unless you were the HO hack that performed the not to code repairs or unpermitted alterations.

    Geez

  9. #29
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    A couple of comments on prior posts.

    Backstabs. I don't have a problem with them. UL has extensively investigated them and determined they are "safe enough" for UL to list them. I am not about to claim UL is incompetent in this matter because I certainly am not and I have to rely on organizations like UL to make this determination for me. You are certainly free to use whatever method of connection you want to if you do not want to backstab them.

    Legal liability. You can be sued even if you did nothing wrong. It is why you have liability insurance. Pay your premiums and don't worry about it. You are paying for peace of mind and legal fees for the most part. If something pops up, let your insurer handle it and move on. You have been paying insurance premiums all this time just to let someone else worry about this particular problem if it ever comes up. Let them do what you have been paying them for all those years. It is like HO insurance. Chances of your house burning down is remote. But, it could happen. it is why you pay for HO insurance (among other reasons). If you come home from work some day and instead of a house there is a smoking pile of ashes, it is not your problem to deal with. You have paid someone else to handle the problem for you. Let them take care of it.
    Bob

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by petersonra View Post
    .............Legal liability. You can be sued even if you did nothing wrong. It is why you have liability insurance. Pay your premiums and don't worry about it. You are paying for peace of mind and legal fees for the most part. If something pops up, let your insurer handle it and move on. You have been paying insurance premiums all this time just to let someone else worry about this particular problem if it ever comes up. Let them do what you have been paying them for all those years. It is like HO insurance. Chances of your house burning down is remote. But, it could happen. it is why you pay for HO insurance (among other reasons). If you come home from work some day and instead of a house there is a smoking pile of ashes, it is not your problem to deal with. You have paid someone else to handle the problem for you. Let them take care of it.

    After which, you cannot get liability insurance at ANY price because you've had such a massive claim you're now a pariah.

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