Home Inspection
Information From
Alban Home
Inspection Service

June  '04

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Shedding Light On
Electrical Systems

When trying to determine the size of the electrical service, the primary factor is the size of the cable coming into the house. The size can be determined by measuring the width of the cable as follows:

• 60 amp cable is approximately 3/4" wide
• 100 amp cable is approximately
15/16" wide
• 150 amp cable is approximately 1 3/16" wide
• 200 amp cable is approximately 1 7/16" wide

The cable will dictate the size of the fuses or breaker needed to protect it. 

Sizing the Fuses or Breakers
The size of the fuse or breaker is dictated by the size of the wire as follows: 1. ) 14 gauge wire = 15 amp 2.) 12 gauge wire = 20 amp 3.) 10 gauge wire = 30 amp. 
14 gauge wire is normally the smallest wire
that you will find in the service panel. 12 gauge is a little thicker than 14 gauge, and 10 gauge is thicker than the 12 gauge, and is normally used for 220 volt circuits. 
You may be able to read the wire size on the
outer insulation of the wire or you can buy a wire gauge from an electric supply store.
How to Determine the
Condition of Wiring
The condition of the old wire depends on
the amount of usage, the age, and the manufacturer. The concern with the wire is the insulation around the wire more than the wire itself. This is because the insulation is the more vulnerable component.


The easiest way to know the condition of the wire is to bend it where it has not been bent. If you can bend it 180° and you do not expose the conductor, t e wire is very good.
If you expose the conductor, the wire
may still be okay. This will depend on how much it is exposed and how resilient the insulation is. 
If you cannot bend the wire 90
° without
exposing the conductor, the wire is probably marginal or worse. 
If  the insulation around the wire falls apart
when you bend it, the wire probably needs replacement. 

220 Volt Circuits
Almost all residential electrical services are
single phase, which is what you need to make 220 volt circuits. This means there are two 110 volt poles and a ground. 
The easiest way to determine if you have a
single phase service would be to look at the weather head or most head that is bolted to most houses up at or near the roofline. If you can see three wires connected, you have a single phase 220 volt service. If you have underground service, you will have to remove the cover panel to determine if you have single phase or not.


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Alban is proud to offer FREE Continuing Education Courses in Real Estate Offices! Call Melissa For Information and to Schedule at 301-404-8104 or 301-607-8114.

From the desk of . . .
     Arthur S. Lazero

No-Inspection Contracts-Potential Realtor Liability

I am alarmed! The prevalence of "no contingency-no home inspection" contracts resulting from the current "Seller’s Market" is dangerous for both listing agents and buyer’s agents. It is also risky for the buyer, but that’s obvious. Just as mold is the "issue du jour" for the litigation bar, no-contingency purchases that result in discovery of undetected deficiencies after settlement will be fodder for lawyers next year. 

Pre-Offer Home Inspections.
The solution is
to have a pre-offer home inspection. This is an hour or so long inspection focused on structure, mechanical systems, and exterior conditions. Alban charges 80% of the normal fee for such an inspection and it is worth every penny. 

Recent Inspections.
My concern for future
Realtor liability arises from two pre-offer inspections I performed this past month. The first inspection in Silver Spring found a potential carbon monoxide poisoning situation and a failing major retaining wall. I am so worried about the possibility of a CO poisoning occurrence that I am planning a "Dear Occupant" letter to alert the new purchasers, even though I have no "Duty of Care" to them. The second pre-offer inspection was a property in Bethesda listed at its full value. If multiple contracts result in an escalated final price, a future financial disaster will occur. My inspection found that the entire rear yard had a severe grade with all yard water draining back

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ALBAN ANNOUNCES RADIO SHOW! Check out Arthur Lazerow, President of Alban Home Inspection Service, the co-host on WMET 1160 AM Intelligent Radio Real Estate Today! Saturdays 10 to 11 AM!


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