Sparkies! What's your best suggerstion to those who feel weak in electrical?

What is the best approach to getting educated for those who feel like electrical is their weak point?


I would get with an electrician and see if I could accompany him on a panel upgrade or install. Buy him lunch and pick his brain. Many people are willing to help if asked.

Hi Ken
I think it depends on whether you want to get a better understanding of electricity or acceptable wiring practices.
If it’s acceptable wiring practices then take an electrical home inspection course. Many colleges offer them on-line. However, they are very short on theory.
If you want a better understanding of how electricity works (ie. theory) then you have to take a course in electrical theory.
The other way is to buy a book on one aspect or the other.

In my inspections, “acceptable” is the bear minimum. This is “code”.

I am required, by state law, to call things out against “current constructon standards” which means the current national standards (i.e., NEC, in the most recent professional standards).

Anything else is just “phoning it in”.

Do you really want to only be “acceptable”?

Why don’t you try “best practices”?

Your clients are paying you to represent them and halpe them and counsel them. Why not give them your best?

I’d go for a free lunch for free advise.

                                        Bob O. 84,Pa.15330

I have recommended the same thing for anyone weak in HVAC. Find yourself someone in the trade you can learn from and get them to show and explain what “needs” to be checked and how to do it properly. Lots of bogus ideas out there being taught about what the HI should be doing as well as misunderstandings about the various types of equipment. For example; never run a furnace in the summer time. Why not. It’s a furnace, you are not going to
burn it up. It is suppose / designed to get HOT, and there is no need to run it up to 95 deg. anyway.

Find someone like Joe Tedesco who offers ride along training for HI’s.

Take your CE’s in electrical. I’m thinking doing 8 hrs of elec. and 8 hrs of pools for the TX requirements.

Hi Will
I’m not sure I’m following your drift. In my area “current construction standards” is just another way of saying “code minimum” since the builders never do anything above and beyond what they are required to do by code.
Maybe I’m not understanding what you are getting at.

The state of Illinois requires that we call things out based upon the current national standards, not mere local codes. There are 92 different municipalities in the area where I work, each wth their own local codes, and some times these codes contradict each other.

Besides, it is illegal for anyone, in Illinois, to quote the local code except for the actual local code inspectors.

Sure, most builders only build to the bare minimum requirement (the local code) but I am still required, by the state SOP, to inform my client to the condition of the property, based upon the current national standards.

Hope this helps;

I agree.

St. Louis has over several scores of municipalities, too, and most of them (not all) enforce one or more of the national codes. In this city, it may be the 2005 NEC and the next one the 2008, but local municipalities very rarely have the expertise or where-with-all to re-invent the wheel and develop their own building code unique to their municipality.

Counties will modify certain sections of the UPC, NEC and IRC, but it is the same.

Yes, that explains it. There is no such requirement in Ontario. Home inspectors here are not licensed by the province. Anyone can hang out a shingle tomorrow and start doing inspections. There is an association, but membership is not required to do inspections.

I’m not a “sparky,” per se, but the defect I think is most likely to trip up an inspector who’s not so strong on electrical is circuits of the same polarity sharing a common neutral. This can overload the neutral without either circuit breaker tripping.

Red branch circuit hot wires that are not for 220V appliances usually indicate 2 hots sharing a common neutral, typically for 2 kitchen circuits, such as a garbage disposal and dishwasher or microwave oven (yikes!). If you see such circuits, make sure they’re wired to breakers of opposite polarity. I check the panel configuration and test the circuits to see if both hot terminals light up my tester (it would not light up if they’re the same polarity).

Yeah, it’s a bit off-topic, but I think appropriate. Hate to see a house burn down if there’s anything I can do to prevent it.

Hi Frank
Just curious - in what percentage of houses do you find this problem?