Electrical inspection

fairfield8619February 9, 2013

So I have a contract on a house I'm selling. The inspection was done and the guy seemed to freak out that there were "open grounds" all over the house. This house was built in 1940 so there is no GROUND! What exactly is he talking about?
From the pics he took he was running around with one of those cheap plug-in wire testers from HD. Is that what they use? Why would he think an old house had a ground at all? It seemed to scare the prospective buyer which is not good. The house I just moved into was built in 1960 and of course doesn't have a 3 wire system either. Is this guy totally nuts?

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hexus

Are there 3 prong receptacles installed? If so, and there isn't an equipment ground, then yes it's an issue that should be fixed. If you have 2 prong receptacles installed, tell him to shove it. If he argues, ask him to cite you the NEC article that you're in violation of, I guarantee you he won't be able to. Too many of these guy try to enforce things that they have no clue at all about. He can not hold a house built in the 40's to today's codes. The NEC has provisions for this

If you have 3 prong installed, you can either install 2 prong receptacles (still available at Home Depot) or GCFI protect them.
I freaking hate hack job home inspectors that don't know the NEC who try to scare people just like this.

This post was edited by hexus on Sat, Feb 9, 13 at 16:58

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 4:57PM
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bus_driver

Let's be clear- you are referring to a home inspector, right? Many of those are not at all knowledgeable about electrical wiring.
The 1959 NEC required a grounded receptacle at the kitchen sink if a receptacle was installed there. The 1962 NEC is the first to generally require grounded receptacles in kitchens and baths in residences. Not in other locations in the residence until NEC 1965.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2013 at 5:04PM
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fairfield8619

Yes home inspector. To his credit maybe, there was one 3 prong upstairs in a bedroom but the pic was downstairs and of a 2 prong. Possibly he got confused? Probably not though-he sounded like a piece of work. Added insult to injury when he said he would have to remove some siding so he could climb under the house to inspect it. UM... NOT GOING TO HAPPEN! Suggested he find someone a little skinnier. This is La. and that's what you have to work with.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 12:15AM
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Ron Natalie

Any three prong receptacles MUST be either have their ground pin connected to a legitimate ground OR be protected by GFCI and be appropriately marked.

This is NOT a trivial problem, but it's trivial to fix (either put the two prong receptacle back or put in a GFCI and mark it).

Two prong receptacles in a house of that age (unless there have been rennovations that would subject it to a later code), are not illegal. Of course, the inspector is free to point out the lack of grounds. While not a defect, it is a undesirable situation for the buyer.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2013 at 9:21AM
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fairfield8619

You are right ronnatalie, but the implication was that it was a problem,no ground at all in the house, and scaring the buyer in the process. When buying my present house I had a question about something and called on a dedicated professional to check it out not a "one stop shop" man.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2013 at 10:38PM
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SnidelyWhiplash

"the implication was that it was a problem"

Does that surprise you?

Didn't you find it inconvenient, to not be able to use any electrical items having a 3 prong plug? Most people wouldn't be happy with that situation. Many an electrician gets hired to update receptacles (and wiring) in old houses. Just because you found that to be not necessary in the house that you're now selling, you can't expect the buyer to be of a like mind, that it's okay as is.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 12:19AM
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fairfield8619

I think you misunderstood me- the inspector obviously led the buyer the believe that not having a ground in a 1940's house was something unusual. It certainly is not. and, if a buyer wants a ground they need to find an new house to buy and stop looking at old houses. This house was stated "as is".

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 1:20AM
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greg_2010

If it's "as is" then why did you give them an inspection contingency?
While non-grounded outlets may be legal and "safe enough" in an old house, many people would have updated the wiring by now since most modern day uses require more power and a grounded outlet.
The inspector's job is to point out things that the buyer might not have noticed. If he's saying it's dangerous, that's wrong. But saying "The wiring should probably be updated" is not wrong.
And if the wiring is knob and tube, then a lot of insurance companies will require it to be updated before they'll give the buyer insurance on the house.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 8:44AM
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hexus

how many devices do you have that actually require a 3 prong receptacle?
Assuming you have a definite need for a 3 prong, it's already been covered that GFCI protecting the receptacles is acceptable and code compliant.
It is NOT the sellers responsibility to do a service change/rewire the entire house just to make a positional buyer happy
Stop beating a dead horse, this isn't the "what if" game. There are two logical options here. Install 2 prong receptacles or GFCI protect them.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 9:13AM
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brickeyee

"If it's "as is" then why did you give them an inspection contingency?"

Buyers are normally allowed to inspect even 'as is' sales.

The 'as is' is just a warning that no repairs will be negotiated.

Not having grounding receptacles is not that big a deal at all.

Most portable lighting is 2-wire anyway.

If you must use a 30wire tool a decent gauge extension cord with a GFCI built in is more than adequate to use on a 2-wire circuit.

Old houses are built to older code revisions.
They are grandfathered to remain in use.

If you want a new house, purchase a new house.

You can install GFGCI receptacles if you need a 3-wire hookup.
A GFCI does not need a ground to operate.

This post was edited by brickeyee on Tue, Feb 12, 13 at 9:40

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 9:39AM
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fairfield8619

It just would have been nice if the inspector had pointed out that a ground is desireable but not required in a house this age. Instead he alarmed the buyer who probably doesn't know a thing about wiring.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 10:48AM
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greg_2010

I think I came across stronger than I meant to.

Every house is essentially sold 'as is'. The seller never has to repair anything that the buyer requests after the inspection. It just means that the contract is void.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that the buyer can back out for any reason after a home inspection. It doesn't have to be deemed 'valid'.

So the question is, what will it take to make the buyer happy and are you willing to do it? Maybe part of that is just expressing to them that this isn't as big a deal as the inspector made it out to be.

BTW - Just out of curiosity. How do you know how the inspector expressed this issue to them? Were you there during the inspection or are you just assuming he's to blame based on their reaction? Just wondering if he may have told them the 'issue' and they blew it out of proportion by themselves. Doesn't really matter either way, I'm just curious.

how many devices do you have that actually require a 3 prong receptacle?
I'm pretty sure that every electronic device I own requires 3 prongs. And I think surge protectors require a proper ground, not just an ungrounded GFCI.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 1:52PM
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fairfield8619

It was in the report so I assume they saw it- surely the agent showed it to them I hope. It is a moot point- they agreed to the sale. Still it seems irresponsible on the inspector's part. Are you an inspector? I'm sure there are competant inspectors but there seems to be a great number who think they are experts on every trade possible.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 2:52PM
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brickeyee

They took a course!

They must be right.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 3:06PM
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greg_2010

No I'm not an inspector. And I have no great love for inspectors. There are a lot of idiots out there. Maybe I'm just a bit of a devils advocate. I like to look at both sides of a story. We heard your side, so I was trying to speculate on the other side.

It just sounded like you were saying that the inspector blew it all out of proportion, whereas it's his job to point out every little minor thing. And pointing out that there are no grounds in any of the outlets is a valid observation.

It's up to the buyer to decide what's important to them.

Regardless, I'm glad to hear that the sale is proceeding. Good luck!

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 3:37PM
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mike_kaiser_gw

Correct me if I'm wrong, but it's my understanding that the buyer can back out for any reason after a home inspection. It doesn't have to be deemed 'valid'.

The few real estate transactions I've been involved in the contract allowed the buyer to back out if the inspection revealed deficiencies that exceeded a certain dollar amount. I don't recall what the sellers responsibilities were if the problems were below that threshold. I don't recall the threshold being very high, at least not as a percentage of the transaction.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2013 at 5:28PM
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brickeyee

"The few real estate transactions I've been involved in the contract allowed the buyer to back out if the inspection revealed deficiencies that exceeded a certain dollar amount."

It depends on the exact wording of the inspection clause in the contract.

The one used in Northern VA says "acceptable inspection" to the buyer.
No other limits.

Either party is free to negotiate whatever they can get the other party to agree to by signing the contract.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2013 at 10:28AM
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