Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


To Fix or Replace----that is the question!


An old carpenter once told me that a really good carpenter never makes mistakes while a really great carpenter knows how to fix their mistakes so they never show.

Broken Neutral BarI am not so sure of the validity of this wisdom, but most likely it happens all the time.  After all, if the carpenter uses a really expensive piece of wood to make something, and some mistake happens, what can be the harm if repairs can be made in such a manner as to not affect function and in such a manner that no one but them ever knows?

Every carpenter probably makes these kinds of calls all the time.

In an older home, mistakes made during repairs to the house might be more forgiving and the same mistakes on new construction might show up more and be less forgiving.

I think psychologically we demand more perfection of something brand new.  The slightest scratch on the new car we drive off the lot is certainly going to be overlooked when the same car is ten years old.

So how do we decide when something can be “fixed” or whether the item should be “replaced?”  For me if there is any chance that the fixed item is going to affect “function,” then it would most likely behoove us to replace the item instead of attempting to fix the item. 

If you are an old New England Yankee or Rube GoBroken Neutral Barldberg, you can pretty much forget about what I am saying.  For them “fixing” will always be the first and pretty much only option.  Once the fix has been fixed a couple of times---then replacement may be considered.

I started thinking about this the other day when I was inspecting brand new construction and found a broken neutral bar in the electrical panel.  The electrician had made a “repair” to the broken bar by connecting the two pieces together with a piece of heavy copper wire.

There is no question that this will likely be “functional,” but was it a good idea to attempt to repair this bar or should the bar have been replaced?

I for one, think the bar should be replaced because of the unpredictability of such a repair.

Of course I am certainly going to move the liability from my E&O to the Electrical Contractor’s E&O.



Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Seattle Home Inspector


The Human Rights Campaign   QR code for Charles Buell Inspections Inc


WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board

Comment balloon 22 commentsCharles Buell • April 25 2012 08:38AM
To Fix or Replace----that is the question!
An old carpenter once told me that a really good carpenter never makes mistakes while a really great carpenter knows how to fix their mistakes so they never show. I am not so sure of the validity of this wisdom, but most likely it… more
I just insulated the floors over my crawl space and now the floors…
Today I am going to take on a common problem that is both complicated and simple. It is complicated in the sense that our attempt to make floors feel warm over unheated spaces is a band-aid on a problem---as opposed to a cure. … more
Sometimes all we have is luck to protect us from ourselves.
Electric forced air wall heaters are very common. Other than needing cleaning periodically they typically work pretty well. I did a post recently about one that caught on fire due to being plugged with lint They often have a foul… more
Inventing a better mouse trap should at least be related to the…
As a builder, I used Simpson hardware from the very beginning---1971. That is quite a while, and the company has been around a lot longer than that--- since the mid 1950’s At an inspection the other day I found what appeared to be an.. more
Google never hibernates (Part 2 of the Shell Game).
The previous part of this story was necessary to set the stage for how lucky human beings are---compared to Turtles. At least---I am pretty sure that is true. While turtles have no choice but to hibernate when it gets too cold, human… more
---the pond above us freezes over---and never thaws (Part 1 of the…
I find hibernation a fascinating adaptation of some animals. Turtles in particular are interesting. They can spend a huge percentage of their lives buried in mud as the world goes on above them. They go to sleep when their… more
Dryerja vu---over and over again.
I have done many posts about clogged dryer vents and the types of duct pipe used on dryer vents---and it is a subject that bears repeating. While it is pretty easy to convince people for the need to vent their dryers outdoors, getting… more
Is your house an island? It better be.
Crawl spaces can be one of the biggest contributors of moisture in the attic space. Crawl spaces with exceptionally high moisture levels can overwhelm even crawl spaces that have “technically” adequate ventilation. Moisture as vapor (a gas… more