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ELECTRICAL INSPECTION, DIAGNOSIS, REPAIR
ACCURACY vs PRECISION of MEASUREMENTS
AFCIs ARC FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS
ALUMINUM SECs & WIRING
ALUMINUM WIRING HAZARDS & REPAIRS
AMPS VOLTS DETERMINATION
AMPERAGE MEASUREMENT METHODS
AMPACITY - the LIMITING FACTOR
APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY RATINGS
BACKUP ELECTRICAL GENERATORS
BACK-WIRED ELECTRICAL DEVICES
BOOKSTORE - ELECTRICAL
BUILDING SAFETY HAZARDS GUIDE
Cadet & Encore Heater Recall
CIRCUIT BREAKER FAILURE
CIRCUIT BREAKER SIZE for A/C or HEAT PUMP
Classified CIRCUIT BREAKER WARNING
CORROSION in ELECTRICAL PANELS
CORROSION & MOISTURE SOURCES in PANELS
CUTLER HAMMER PANEL FIRE
DEFINITIONS of ELECTRICAL TERMS
DIRECTORY OF ELECTRICIANS
DMM Digital Multimeter HOW TO USE
ELECTRIC METERS & METER BASES
ELECTRIC MOTOR DIAGNOSTIC GUIDE
ELECTRIC MOTOR OVERLOAD RESET SWITCH
ELECTRIC PANEL AMPACITY
ELECTRIC PANEL INSPECTION
ELECTRIC PANEL MOISTURE
Electric Power Frequency Table
ELECTRIC WATER HEATER TIMERS
ELECTRIC WATER HEATERS
ELECTRICAL GROUND SYSTEM INSPECTION
EMF RF FIELD & FREQUENCY DEFINITIONS
FEDERAL PACIFIC FPE HAZARDS
FIRE SAFETY Checklist, CPSC
GFCI PROTECTION,Testing GFCIs AFCIs
HEATING COST FUEL & BTU Cost Table
HEAT TAPE USAGE GUIDE
Hertz - Definitions of KHz MHz GHz THz
KNOB & TUBE WIRING
LIGHTING, EXTERIOR GUIDE
LIGHTING, INTERIOR GUIDE
LIGHTNING PROTECTION SYSTEMS
LOW VOLTAGE BUILDING WIRING
LOW VOLTAGE TRANSFORMER TEST
MAIN ELECTRICAL DISCONNECT
MAIN DISCONNECT AMPACITY
MOISTURE SOURCES in PANELS
MURRAY SIEMENS Recall
PHOTOVOLTAIC POWER SYSTEMS
PUSHMATIC - BULLDOG PANELS
REMOTE ELECTRIC POWER, PHOTOVOLTAIC
RUST in ELECTRICAL PANELS
SAFETY for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS
AMPS MEASUREMENT METHODS
Breakers, Fuses, Circuits, Inspect
DMM Digital Multimeter HOW TO USE
DMMs & VOMs, Using Safely
Electric Meter & Service Entry
SAFETY TIPS for ELECTRICAL INSPECTORS
ELECTRICAL INSPECTION CLIENT SAFETY
ELECTRICAL PANEL INSPECTION SAFETY
REMOVE ELECTRICAL PANEL COVERS
ELECTRICAL PANEL COVER SCREWS
ELECTRICAL PANEL INTERIOR HAZARDS
Grounding, Local Electrical
OUTDOOR ELECTRICAL INSPECTION SAFETY
Shock Risk Statistics
Shut Down Equipment, When to
TEST EQUIPMENT, ELECTRICAL GUIDE to
TEST MAIN BREAKERS & FUSES
Testing Receptacles GFCIs AFCIs
Touching Electrical Equipment
VOLTS / AMPS MEASUREMENT EQUIP
SE CABLE SIZES vs AMPS
SIEMENS MURRAY Recall
THERMAL EXPANSION of HOT WATER
THERMAL EXPANSION of MATERIALS
UNDERGROUND SERVICE LATERALS
VOLTS / AMPS MEASUREMENT EQUIP
VOLTAGE MEASUREMENT METHODS
WIND ENERGY SYSTEMS
WIND TURBINES & LIGHTNING
ZINSCO SYLVANIA ELECTRICAL PANELS
This electrical safety procedures article discusses outdoor safety hazards at residential properties and suggests safety procedures for the electrical inspector, home inspector, or other professionals who examine residential electrical systems.
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Keep in mind that this determination is required by ASHI Standards and is to be derived based on visual inspection of the wiring and equipment. It is not required to use test equipment for this purpose. Sketch courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.
Safe electrical inspection procedures and safe use of
volt meters, DMMs, multimeters, and similar electrical test equipment
is discussed at the end of the article.
These electrical inspection suggestions are not a complete inventory of all electrical safety procedures nor of all electrical components that should be inspected; these notes focus on identification of conditions that may present special electrical hazards for the electrical inspector.
Contact Us by email to suggest changes, corrections, and additions to this material.
Electric shocks are responsible for about 1,000 deaths in the United States each year, or about 1% of all accidental deaths.- Refs.
Fatal Shock Hazard Warning: Inspecting electrical components and systems risks death by electrocution as well as serious burns or other injuries to the inspector or to others. Do not attempt these tasks unless you are properly trained and equipped.
See ELECTRIC METERS & METER BASES for a discussion of examining the electric meter and meter base portion of the service entry.
See AMPS& VOLTS DETERMINATION for determining the ampacity of an electrical service: How to determine the electrical Ampacity and Voltage provided to a building discusses in detail how to determine the service amps and voltage by visual inspection.
Also see AMPACITY - the LIMITING FACTOR.
Observe does not mean touch except where removing access covers or operating certain devices is explicitly required.
When new service entry cables are installed don't assume that those exposed bare ends of old SEC you see are "dead." Non-contact voltage sensing devices can determine if any questionable wiring is "hot."
Sketch courtesy of Carson Dunlop Associates.
Watch the location of overhead lines when moving ladders to access roof and if the roof is walked, watch for the location of power lines, antennas, guy-wires, and masts when getting to, walking on, and getting off the roof.
November 10, 1988 - Marshall, TX - Donald Cleveland Jones, 45, was electrocuted when equipment he was moving came into contact with electrical wires, according to deputies. -- Same source as previous news report.
If you see fallen wires do not go near them. Notify the utility company and appropriate others promptly.
Also watch out for TV antennas which can be pushed into or fall onto electric wires. -- advice from NY Central Hudson Gas and Electric Company, G&E/1-2/85 consumer safety pamphlet.
Use extreme caution in crawl spaces and wet crawl or basement areas - avoid contacting electrical components.
We advise against entering wet or flooded sub areas at all. we have an unsubstantiated report of an inspector [or contractor] death by electrocution while inspecting a damp crawl space using a light plugged into an extension cord.
Use battery-powered lighting or if an extension cord is required, inspectors should provide their own portable GFCI protected receptacle.
The Tiff Tic TracerTM [Figure 2, page 11 in the original article, and shown in the next text section below] will not make a quantitative measurement of voltage.
But this instrument is very helpful in checking for live 120/240V voltage at wires and devices.
Without physical contact, the instrument will indicate the presence of a nearby live AC voltage field.
We found a property at which the old service entry cable (SEC) at the building corner was left in place, cut with a hacksaw about 6' from the ground, bare wire ends exposed, electrically live - it had been left connected in an old main panel which was used by the installer as a "sub panel" when the new larger main was installed.
This was an exciting installation!
See AMPS & VOLTS DETERMINATION for details of how to determine the ampacity and voltage of electrical service at a building.
If in the inspector's judgment equipment is an immediate threat to life and property, such as a boiler whose flue connection has fallen off, we recommend that dangerous equipment be shut down and the appropriate people notified. See Shutting Down Unsafe Equipment. In some cases "appropriate people" includes not only the client and building owner, but also building occupants.
In some instances such as sparking electrical panels, gas leaks, or evidence of a fire, the inspector and everyone else should leave the building immediately and from outside, call the fire department and as appropriate, the gas company, police, or rescue personnel.
Continue reading at ELECTRICAL INSPECTOR SAFETY PROCEDURES that describes important basic safety procedures, clothing, and equipment for home inspectors and electrical inspectors.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
2779 Mcallister San Francisco California has exterior light outside 2779 cottage that had white vertical waving cloud pop sound and smelled bad. this resulted said electrican of destroying 2779 outdoor light connected to 2781 mcallister which destroyed 2781 mcallister garage indoor lights.
The disconnect labeled 2779 did not turn off the short circuit so I turn off the main circuit breaker panel for 2779.
2779 disconnect and 2781 and 2783 mcallister san Francisco CA are Murray and Westinghouse brands.
What facts tell me what is a good electrican. I am physically disabled and old. outdoor wood doors over outdoor 2779 disconnect and 2781 and 2783 circuit breaker panels do not cover completely.
The open air gap spaces allow rainwater and fog to touch 2779 disconnect that has a horizontal switch that looks like a indoor light switch that has no metal cover over 2779 disconnect. moisture touches he circuit breaker panels with metal doors covering circuit breakers. - L.L. 4/2/2014
L.L. I recall that we have discussed your electrical safety worries previously, at we discussed electrical issues before - see report #3 at FPE FAILURE FIELD REPORTS though now I see you are reporting two other electrical panel brands, Murray & Westinghouse.
I agree that electrical codes will require outdoor electrical panels to be weather-tight, rated for outdoor use, and properly installed.
Electricians are licensed by your state and often local municipality; beyond that we're in trouble trying to evaluate them by email. It's a tougher question to ask how to evaluate electricians as eductaion, experience, skill and importantly, attitude vary among inviduals all of whom may have obtained a license.
Perhaps your local building department can make a suggestion, particularly as you cite unsafe conditions in the homes and addresses in your email.
Questions & answers or comments about how to safely conduct the inspection of outside electrical components at buildings.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
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