Older Homes – Potential Electrical Concerns

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During a home inspection in a rural area near Parker Colorado, I ran across some electrical issues which are not uncommon with older houses. With homes built decades, or even centuries ago, the wiring may have been altered by an owner, or other party who is not a licensed electrical technician. It is common to find that rooms have been added or changed, or the owner has attempted change or update the electrical system. When not done correctly, this can have potentially dangerous results.
The first two photos illustrate the first problem found with the wiring in this house. The electrical panel has a grounding bar and neutral bar joined or bonded, but there are clearly not enough grounds in the panel to cover all the circuits in the house. This is proven out in the second photo which shows my circuit testing device reading “Open Ground”; meaning that the outlet may have three prongs like a modern electrical outlet, but it is not grounded properly back to the panel box, and thus not wired properly.
The third photo shows something which can be very dangerous. The attic wiring joins older wiring with newer wiring improperly. These connections should be made in a junction box which is then covered. The plastic caps connecting these wires can easily come loose exposing ungrounded wires carrying live current which can cause injury or fire.
In this case, it was clear that a qualified electrician was needed to inspect the panel and circuit wiring in the home and make needed corrections to make the home safe for occupancy. The combination of old wiring and improper installation and updating, created a situation which could very well lead to serious problem for the owner and/or purchaser.