This just in...


On August 8th you inspected the property I am purchasing at xxxx Mildred in Bellaire, TX and I wanted to get some support or guidance from you regarding the electrical items in “Electrical 2.0” of your report.

The homeowners had an electrician and city building code inspector come out and review your comment listed below and they feel it meets the code in place in 2001 when the house was built. I am seeking information to support your claim that these items need repair. Electrical issues are major in my mind so I want to be 100% certain the house meets code. See below for the excerpt from your report.

Inspected, Not Functioning or in Need of Repair
Main electrical service panel shown with dead front cover removed for inspection purposes (picture 1). Pointed sheet metal screws used in place of manufacturer supplied panel cover screws at main service panel. Pointed screws can puncture the insulation of the service wires and become electrified. These screws present a safety concern and need to be replaced with the proper screws supplied by the panel manufacturer.

The sub-panel appears to be fed from the main panel with three conductors (picture 2), should be four. The bonding bar in the sub-panel (picture 3) should be removed. The ground and neutral bars in the sub-panel should be isolated.

I recommend that a licensed, competent, qualified, professional electrical contractor be consulted to determine the best method for repair, estimate costs, and perform the repairs.

Thank you for the help,

And this is why Inspectors should never mention “code”. In this instance, John’s red flags were on the money, and supposedly, the inspector said they were bunk. The AHJ has the final say so. If it were me, I would say “fine”, and recommend that the Client obtain the official “okay” (in writing) from the AHJ.

I would not comment one way or the other.

Six, two, and even… Over and out.
(what was this from?)

Since you did not mention code and the city inspector did, I’d suggest that he document in writing the section of code that permits the issues you found. All jurisdictions make mods to national standards, perhaps Bellaire made some strange changes.

Here’s a link to Bellaire’s Electrical Code. With only a quick glance, it does not appear they have done anything strange:

Agreed, the AHJ has the final say so even if he is just plain wrong, which in this case he clearly is.

I would not have reported it any differently myself.



I don’t know much about Texas, but the AHJ (authority having jurisdiction) would not be the city inspector in this case, as the CI has jurisdiction over new construction (complete build and/or remodel), not existing dwellings for sale or transfer.

The AHJ for sale or transfer would be the “enforcer” of the State’s Health and Safety Code as it relates to real estate transactions.

I don’t believe this was an issue where the Building Inspector would have any jurisdiction what so ever. I have had this battle. . .

The sheet metal screws are an issue, albeit a minor one. I am surprised they had to resort to this on a new install. For old equipment I might even know some folks who have done this in a pinch.
For newer equipment I usually have some extra screws around.

As for the sub-panel, if this is within the same structure you are correct and the local inspectors are wrong. Unfortunately VERY wrong.
If this is a detached structure it could very well be perfectly legal and safe. There ARE some instances where a 3-wire feeder is legal, but only to a detached structure.

As long as the sub-panel is in the house I think you reported it correctly as well.

Update - I did advise the client to obtain any other opinions regarding this matter in writing. He called the city inspection dept. and spoke with a fella that said “ah, we did verbal on that one, we’ll have to look at it and get back with you”.

They always seem to sharpen their pencils when you ask them to put in writing. Don’t they? :smiley:

Thanks for the feedback, the sub-panel was right next to the main on the same structure.

That’s interesting.

I had an issue similar to this not too long ago with regards to Copalum crimps.

The AHJ told the seller that there is no issue with AL wiring so long as the components are listed for AL (which is technically true).

This was a 1970 build with solid AL conductors at all branch circuits. The end result (after several “phone attacks” on me from our City Inspector) was a $5K credit to the buyer (far in excess of the cost for Copalum “retrofitting”).

Here is a two inch pointed sheet metal screw as seen from the back side of a dead front from one of yesterdays inspections. Minor?

A) If someone uses a 2" SMS for a panel they deserve to get it blown up.

  1. Using one for a center cover insert as pictured is just plain stupid.

IMO yes, a 1/2" SMS for a cover screw is a minor issue.
For a new panel there is NO reason not to have factory screws.

Agreed Speedy Petey. If that is your real name. :smiley:

P.S. Never seen them use 1/2 pointed screws. Always one inch or better. After a factory center lug (such as the one replaced by the 2 inch in the picture) blew up in my face when removing a dead front, even 1/2 are bad mojo to me. Call me silly.:cool:

Canada May be different but as far as I am concerned Sheet metal screws should never be used to hold a cover of any kind on any electric box Period.
There is no such thing to me as Minor issue with electricty.
( The AHJ told the seller that there is no issue with AL wiring so long as the components are listed for AL (which is technically true). )
Aluminum has always been aproved in Canada .
But I feel that it is my responsibility to inform my client that there is Aluminum wire in this home and let them make up their own mind with my openion if they ask.
Roy Cooke

John, I definitely understand the issue with SMS’s. I’ve had it happen to me as well. I actually had it happen with an Siemens panel, the ones with the really long screws with the blunt end. Surprised me to say the least.

Unfortunatly, when Harry Homeowner removes his cover and loses the screws 10 years ago (not exactly uncommon) we sometimes have to compromise. Especially with some old panels where almost nothing else will fit.
Fortunately, by this time it is usually time to replace the panel anyway.

Yes, Peter is my real name. Friends call me Petey.

I put a panel on several months ago which had sheet metal screws, and guess what? The screw nicked the hot wire. Sparks.

Inspectors have been known to be wrong too. I have met several including building inspectors, regardless of code, regardless of AHJ. To error is human.

I don’t see an excuse for using a SMS. You can buy the right screws and when the holes are stripped you can use a clip on speed nut that works with any of the regular #10 screws.

and his significant other calls him Speedy, therefore the handle we have come to know. :smiley:

OUCH! :ouch:

Actually it comes from a life long of racing motorcycles and cars.

Finally someone said it. However, I have had some Clients, as well as Realtors, of course, think that some of my report concerns minor issues.