Just one more bite?

Lately it seems I have had a run of BIG inspections.

The inspections and the writing of the reports for these big inspections is akin to eating an elephant. The only way to accomplish it, without being overwhelmed, is to go at it systematically—one bite at a time–the same way one eats an elephant.

On a recent commercial inspection, an inspection that took most of the day to inspect and another day to write the report, the eating-the-elephant analogy was useful once again.

At this inspection, in one of the several attics in the building, there was this giant wasp’s nest.

I got to thinking about the elephant and wondered if the construction of one of these nests was a bit like eating an elephant–one bite at a time. Of course wasps get LOTS of help–it is not just one mouth constructing the nest.

In a similar manner, I as the building inspector am just one “wasp” building the nest of the transaction for the whole sale. All of the different wasps have to tend to their own elephant to the best of their abilities in order for the whole nest/transaction to turn into a success.

Can you imagine trying to eat the entire transaction all in one bite? That sounds like an event more explosive than the one more bite of Monte Python’s Mr. Creosote!

Wouldn’t it to be nice if all of us involved in the transaction were as perfect as wasps? The wasp has no choice but to do a perfect job–every single time–every single bite!

Just one more bite?

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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What are Daisy Chained & Back-Stabbed Receptacles?

Daisy chaining is the practice of running wires from receptacle to receptacles via either back-stabbing (sticking the wires in holes in the back of the receptacle—left of picture)  or using the screws on the side of the receptacle (center of picture).

(could be switches as well but for now we will discuss receptacles)

This is a poor practice, especially the back-stabbing approach, as every connection can result in voltage drop such that by the time you get to the end of the circuit the voltage drop affects the function of whatever is plugged in. 

The side screw type daisy chain is not quite as problematic but with that method if something goes wrong with one receptacle it would affect any others downstream from the problem one.

Different ways to wire a receptacle

A better practice is to wire-nut the wires together in the box, and then run a pigtail to the receptacle (right side of picture)—doing this for the ground wire, the “white” (neutral) wire and the “black” (hot) wire (sometimes the colors vary for the hot conductor).

The pigtail method is considered “best practice” but is obviously more labor intensive and therefor more expensive to have done.

Better modern receptacles also have plates with screws where the wires insert without bending and are tightened behind plates under the screw–this should not be confused with back-stabbing. 

With back-stabbing there is a sharp upward sloping barb that prevents the wire from pulling out and this is the entire connection–the amount that sharp barb grabs onto the wire.  This type of connection is especially problematic with aluminum wiring.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Your kitchen sink spray-wand may be leaking even if you never use it.

A very common source of leaks under the kitchen sink is at the sprayer head.  Every time you use the sink faucet–whether you use the sprayer or not–the hose to the sprayer is “pressurized.”  In other words it is made ready for use.  Of course the sprayer head sits looking pretty in its little cradle and if there is a leak it is going to end up in the cabinet below–not in the sink.

Depending on how much storage is under the sink–and of course nobody ever has any storage under the sink–this leak might go unnoticed for considerable amounts of time.

It is a good idea to occasionally check for leaks under the sink.

At a recent inspection I had a leaking spray attachment that I only figured out was leaking when I saw the evidence in the crawl space.

Of course hidden behind all the stuff under the sink there was plenty of evidence of past/ongoing leaking of the sprayer.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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