Recently I was performing a home inspection in the north-eastern part of San Antonio, very near to the area that I grew up in. Homes in this area were typically constructed in the 70’s and 80’s, and as such, I expect to see a wide variety of home inspection deficincies. Some homes are worse than others of course, and this particular home was on the worse end. Not so much because it had been neglected, but because it had been remodeled recently or “flipped”. Flip-houses are of course properties that were purchased with the intention of quickly “remodeling” them and then reselling them in the short term for a tidy profit, and typically implies poor workmanship (but not always).
The air-conditioning contractor for this home was particularly awful. In addition to a completely hapazardly put together fan-cord that was made by poorly splicing together extention cords (pictured above), the contractor had to replace a circuit breaker at the main electrical cabinet. I know this because there was a freshly installed circuit breaker from a different manufacturer installed for the condenser circuit. At some point, the HVAC contractor lost track of the screw that was used to attach the “deadfront” or cover plate to the electrical cabinet, which I found inside the cabinet, and used a sharp-pointed “pan-head” or sheet-metal screw to attach the deadfront to the electrical cabinet (pictured below).
In doing so, the screw cut into the sheathing of a large wire in the cabinet, because the contractor did not realize that the neutral or grounded conductor for the service was directly behind this screw hole. This was shockingly dangerous, no pun intended.
Thankfully, the wire was not energized, because it was a neutral conductor and the home was unoccupied. But this very dangerous and easily avoidable condition is exactly why pointed screws of any type are explicitly not allowed to be used inside an electrical cabinet / electrical panel. If I could find out this particular contractor’s information, I would have reported them to the Texas Department of Licensing and Registration for such dangerous and poor workmanship.
Be careful out there friends!
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Home Inspector Kyle D. Scott
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