I could stand photo enhancement to look better too!
At the time of inspection the house was 67 years old. It had me beat by two years, which is not all that much when you get to be that old. The thing about houses is that they generally don’t improve with age–especially the electrical components.
Most houses from 1945 would typically have three separate wires running to the house. An inspector–walking around the exterior of the home–would note this and expect to see either an old fused electrical service or possibly an upgraded service panel without the entire electrical service being upgraded. Upgrading just the service panel is not typically a problem as most of these older services had wire sizes sufficient to support a 100 amp service. Generally speaking, a 100 amp service is adequate for many houses that have all gas appliances–even fairly large homes.
The problem is more one of whether the panel has enough spaces for all the necessary circuits, not that one would ever use all 100amps. It is pretty much assumed that no one is ever going to fully load every circuit in the home. It is for that reason that one would never add up the amperage of all the breakers and expect it to be less than 100amps. The total of the amperage of all the breakers in almost any panel is likely to add up to more than the main disconnect rating.
But I digress.
The point of this post is the old wires—and hopefully they are closer to the end of their expected life than I am to mine.
It is not uncommon to see frayed and disintegrating wires running to the house, so when these wires wrap around metal components, such as downspouts, I get concerned that it might be possible for them to energize the gutters. This could be a serious problem for anyone setting an aluminum ladder against the gutters. Most homeowners will be OK because they only have one home to climb up on. But for home inspectors, that have to get up on the roofs of many houses a week, it is a dang good idea to not even own an aluminum ladder–aka ground rod.
When I saw the wiring run to this house, and how it wrapped around the gutter, I was thankful for this knowledge.
As you can see in this second photo, where I have photo enhanced the bare parts, it would not take much to get this downspout and its attached gutter energized.
In the first picture, if you look closely, you can find a little whit spot where the wire had arced in the past.
It is time for an electrical service upgrade.
By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle
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