Seattle Home Inspector's Blog


Electrocution hazard.

     Inspectors find all kinds of electrical issues during an inspection.  Some can cause fires while others lead to electrical shocks.   Few of these issues rival the shock hazard of uncovered utility company splices.  In the picture below the splices are the silver colored connectors with all the little indentations.  Normally these have shrink wrap, tape, or snap-on enclosures installed by the utility when they make the connections.   It is common for the neutral/ground connection to not be covered (the bare wire that also acts as the support wire from the street).  In the picture the lowest connection is the neutral/ground/support-wire connection.

     Imagine for a moment that you hire the neighbor kid (or your own kid) to go up on the roof to clean the gutters or retrieve the Frisbee; and, they were to touch one of these bare connections and the grounded metal electrical mast at the same time.  There is a very high probability of electrocution---not just shock!  Keep in mind that these connections are between the service-disconnect in your home and the transformer at the street and there is no way for the homeowner to disconnect the power to these connections.  If you can see these connections and they do not appear properly covered:  call the local Utility they are usually happy to make the necessary repairs.

 bare splices













     Another issue in this picture is that the service-wire restraint has broken and is attached to the mast with rusting coat-hanger type wire.  Failure of the rusting wire would cause the service wire to drop and the bare connections could contact each other resulting in a serious "arcing" event---like fireworks on the 4th of July!

coat hanger connector















Charles Buell



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

Seattle Home Inspector


The Human Rights Campaign   QR code for Charles Buell Inspections Inc


WA State, Home Inspector Advisory Licensing Board

Comment balloon 2 commentsCharles Buell • January 11 2008 08:34AM
Electrocution hazard.
Inspectors find all kinds of electrical issues during an inspection. Some can cause fires while others lead to electrical shocks. Few of these issues rival the shock hazard of uncovered utility company splices. In the picture below the… more
What fire?
Gas fireplaces are very common in homes and becoming even more popular as people want the romance of a fire without the consequential wasting of energy typical of conventional fireplaces. These units can actually heat a home and in some small… more
Let sleeping dogs lie.
Vermiculite insulation is one of those materials commonly found in the home that can contain Asbestos----depending on where it was mined. While the only way to know for sure is to have it tested, that is no longer the "current… more
Crawl spaces can be pretty inhospitable places. There is all too often the possibility of electrocution, raw sewage, rats, raccoons, dust laden with asbestos and harmful pathogens, flooding, collapsing wells and septic tanks, chemicals from… more
Plugged dryer vent caps---fire safety hazard.
I am amazed at how often I see plugged dryer vents. The lint/dust that plugs these vents represents a significant fire hazard and should be maintained free of debris. This is something that the homeowner/handyman can do. Everyone's use… more
A different movie: "Snakes on a roof"
Condo inspections represent an interesting dilemma for inspectors. There is so much that is "typically" deferred to the Condo Association: exterior, roof, common areas etc. Even while "excluding" these areas I am still… more
How much will the Inspection cost?
Home inspectors get asked this question every day. The answer can simply roll off the tongue---or it may be more like pulling teeth. The reasons for this are as varied as the homes themselves. Some inspectors have fixed fees (no ifs ands or… more
The Abstract Art of Home Inspection
I have always been fascinated with the beauty to be found in ordinary objects---objects with conditions that as a Home Inspector I would most likely be calling defects. The insides of furnaces, failing paint surfaces, and the patterns made by wood… more
Why inspect new construction?
I was a builder for over 33 years before I became a home inspector and I can tell you that there is no way to keep track of all that goes on during the construction process. Good contractors do their best to use the best sub-contractors, and local… more