Attic Area Electrical

In last week’s article I discussed defective HVAC ductwork found in the attic area. Today I’m going to discuss electrical items I have found in the attic. Electrical items are probably the most common item found by every home inspector. Most electrical defects are potential FIRE HAZARDS and should be corrected before the close of escrow, if possible.

Remember in my home inspection business, I follow the Standards of Practice set by the California Real Estate Inspection Association. In these Standards, I’m required to inspect “circuit wiring” as long as it can be “reached, entered, or viewed without difficulty, moving obstructions, or requiring any action which may result in damage to the property or personal injury to the Inspector.” Usually a home inspector is not able to view the entire attic area because of the slope of the roof, insulation, ductwork and roof framing that may be blocking their view. However, most electrical defects are located in such a position where a person can physically reach and perform the installation. Before I enter the attic area, I check to see if any ceiling fans have installed. This alerts me to check that area of the attic carefully for electrical defects.

Here is one of the most common electrical defects home inspectors find in the attic. This picture is illustrating open wire splices. All wire splices must be installed in a covered junction box that will restrict oxygen around the wire splices and help to prevent a fire from starting.

Although the owner or contractor installed the junction box, it’s so over filled, a cover can’t be installed. Another junction box should be installed so that both boxes could be covered.

Believe it or not there is an uncovered juction box under all the insulation. This is a fire just waiting to happen! When the twisted together wires get loose and get hot, a fire will start sooner or later. This is a simple fix for an electrician to repair by cleaning out the loose insulation and installing a box cover.

Here is a picture of the wire not attached to the junction box with an approved wire clamp. The missing clamp costs about 50 cents and stops the wire from pulling out of the junction box.

The orange wire, which happens to be an extension cord, is not an approved source of wiring. Extension cords are for temporary use only. This should be replaced with the proper wire and attached to the structure.

Here the owner installed a ceiling fan in the bedroom. The wire to the fan was installed into the receptacle used by another appliance. This wire can get loose and start arcing leading to a fire.

If you see any of these items on your inspection report you should ask for them to be repaired by a qualified electrical contractor before the close of escrow or have them repaired as soon as you move into your new home.