Is this 'Up To Code'?

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Old 01-25-08, 04:23 PM
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Is this 'Up To Code'?

I've purchased a fixer-upper and one of the things I wanted to do was remove a wall that seperates the living room from the dining room. After doing this, it seemed only natural to add a light switch so that you could turn on the dining room light from either direction.

Simple enough, I need to run some 14-3 wire between the switches and life is good.

So I climbed up into my attic to find where the existing wire was and to run the new wires. I found that *none* of the electrical wires were placed inside of boxes. They are simply joined together with wirecaps and the wires are all just sitting on the attic floor, many are burried in insulation.

I was told that, anytime, you have extend or join wires, they need to be placed inside of an electrical box? I've also been told that it is important to secure the wires (tack/staple/etc) then into place. All of the wires are simply sitting where they are.

Is this 'okay' or is this a problem? I live in Colorado now, not sure if it varries from state-to-state.
 
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Old 01-25-08, 05:01 PM
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This is NOT okay and it IS a problem. Is your fire insurance paid up? You have a fire waiting to happen.
 
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Old 01-25-08, 05:02 PM
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Any splices must be in a *permanently accessible* junction box, so, no, this is not "up to code".

Sounds like your "fixer upper" includes some electrical projects. If there are obvious violations in plain view, there are probably more hidden in walls...(I found a receptacle hidden behind paneling in one wall in my house!)

How old is your home?

BTW: It would probably be a good idea to go pick up a copy of the green book titled "Wiring Simplified". That's a great start to learning what you'll need to know to tackle your houses electrical ills. Then when you come to specific questions, post them here and you'll get great advice.

Good luck!
 
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Old 01-25-08, 05:37 PM
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The house was built in 1978.

This really blows, as it will be a real PITA for me to fix all of it (but, obviously, I'm going to have to do it).

I feel pretty stupid for doing it - but I paid $300 dollars for a home inspector to come and inspect my house. Isn't this the sort of thing that well paid, professional, should have looked at?

I dunno, bah, oh well. I'll put all of the wire splices into boxes like they should be that I can *see* - but I am worried now - am I going to have to rip out all of the walls to see what else is wrong?
 
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Old 01-25-08, 05:42 PM
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If you paid money for a home inspection and this was not caught, then I would demand my money back. What you have described is a real fire hazard. While you should not expect a home inspector to be able to see inside walls, he or she should go up into attics and crawl spaces. Clearly visible problems should have been identified.
 
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Old 01-25-08, 06:01 PM
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Originally Posted by racraft View Post
If you paid money for a home inspection and this was not caught, then I would demand my money back. What you have described is a real fire hazard. While you should not expect a home inspector to be able to see inside walls, he or she should go up into attics and crawl spaces. Clearly visible problems should have been identified.
Yeah - I think he scammed me.

He inspected my pipes using an air compressor (because it was easier for him to schedule the appointment before the water was scheduled to be turned on). He told me it was 'just as good'.

I, not knowing anything, said, 'Sure, as long as it is just as good, I don't care'.

Turns out my Lender wouldn't accept the air-pressure test (the inspector should have known this) *AND* my bathtub constantly leaks and one of the toilets spills water when it is flushed.

He told me the pipes were fine.

Now, I go up into the attic and see all of these exposed wires and stuff - not cool

Thanks for the help/advice all. I really appreciate it. I'm *REALLY* glad I found this forum and asked and didn't just leave it.
 
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Old 01-25-08, 06:15 PM
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What does the rest of the electric look like? My old knob and tube didn't have too many junction boxes for lighting, just flying splices. And with no insulation, it probably was reasonably safe.

The junction boxes I have taken out are mostly cast iron, crazy solid by today's smurf colored standard.
 
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Old 01-25-08, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by RobDude View Post
Yeah - I think he scammed me.
No offense, but you said it was a fixer upper. What vintage is this house? Electric and plumbing is usually needs some attention, as does hvac, the roof, foundation, okay..the whole friggin house.

You'll find these forums are kind of like group therepy for people with more sense than money.
 
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Old 01-25-08, 07:47 PM
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At least you had wire nuts. In my first house (built in about 1953) the power to the wall furnace was from an NM cable that had been "spliced" into another NM cable running through the attic. All that had been done was to separate the two conductors, wrap the "tap" wires around the running wires and then shove a rag between the two to "insulate" this mess.

This house had TWO (only) branch circuits in the place.
 
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Old 01-25-08, 10:12 PM
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Originally Posted by Fubar411 View Post
No offense, but you said it was a fixer upper. What vintage is this house? Electric and plumbing is usually needs some attention, as does hvac, the roof, foundation, okay..the whole friggin house.

You'll find these forums are kind of like group therepy for people with more sense than money.
I paid the guy $300 dollars so that he'd go around and tell me what was wrong. I knew, looking at the place, that there were problems, fist holes in walls, missing doors, ripped up carpet, etc....

I hired him because I know I don't know jack about plumbing, or electrical, or roofs, or foundations Really, I don't know much about anything when it comes to home improvement.

His inspection of the pipes wasn't good enough for the lender and caused all sorts of headaches. He didn't tell me that the bathtub leaked constantly, or that one toilet didn't work or that the other one spilled water. His inspection missed the electrical not being up to code, a fire hazard. And his assessment of the roof was, 'Well, ya never know for sure; plus, without getting on top of it (it was too icy to climb on it) it's really hard to say much of anything.

So really, for $300 dollars he walked around the house and pointed out every imperfection in the wall and every door that didn't close all the way. I dunno, I wasn't impressed. I knew it needed some work to be done - but I feel like he should have been able to give me an better idea of what work was needed.
 
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Old 01-25-08, 10:41 PM
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Home inspectors can be like that, at least the ones that real estate agents like. The ones that do a good job are called "deal breakers" in the trade. When the agent stands to lose thousands of dollars in commission, I can see why a "you never can tell" inspector is handy to have.

I have been pretty impressed with some inspectors I've seen. They do stuff to stress the systems.

Instead of getting mad at the inspectors, look at what the seller disclosed. Maybe your real estate agent can tell you if it is worth going after the former owners? I have heard that municipalities are getting tougher on the disclosure list.
 
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Old 01-26-08, 08:19 AM
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It's very difficult to fully inspect the plumbing at "winterized" properties.

For example I tell clients that not only is it not possible to inspect plumbing with the water turned off, it's not possible to fully inspect the plumbing when it's ON unless it's been on for at least a week - otherwise small leaks in concealed locations many not have had time to produce visible evidence at exposed surfaces.

As for the electrical junctions, I could see missing one if it was tucked into a corner or concealed by insulation or personal possessions - I would not be happy about discovering I'd missed it, but real-world an inspector has only so much time at a property.

But multiple incorrect junctions? Hard to see how that could happen if he even made it into the attic at all, once you see one of those you are going to be looking careful for others.

Why do such inspections happen?

IMO the truth is that in many cases you just cant properly inspect of many of these vacant / foreclosed / "winterized" properties; but many buyers, lenders and real estate agents are looking for someone to "sign-off" on the condition of these properties, and they WILL be able to find someone to do it.

OTOH, a candid inspector, looking at such a property, will often have to take a buyer:

"If I was able to find this many defects in the three hours we have been here, it's a pretty safe bet that there are more defects I've not discovered.

"Some of these are things I might find if I had more time, but some of them are likely hidden defects you won't find until you start opening walls, or there is a hard summer rain, or it gets down to -15F and pipes start freezing.

"And it's important for you to understand that on a property like this I can reduce your risk, but I can't eliminate it - that's what "as is" means."

For many people - especially real estate agents - this is not what they want to hear, and they will keep trying until they find someone who will reliably tell buyers something different.
 
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Old 01-26-08, 10:19 PM
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Originally Posted by RobDude View Post
I found that *none* of the electrical wires were placed inside of boxes. They are simply joined together with wirecaps and the wires are all just sitting on the attic floor, many are burried in insulation.

I was told that, anytime, you have extend or join wires, they need to be placed inside of an electrical box? I've also been told that it is important to secure the wires (tack/staple/etc) then into place. All of the wires are simply sitting where they are.
It is ok for intact cables to be under insulation. Also, cables don't necessarily have to be stapled when they are ran in attics. The splices outside of electrical boxes are a big concern.
 
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Old 01-27-08, 09:24 AM
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IMO you don't have an imminent disaster. Unless you have a lot of traffic in the attic, it would probably be fine forever.

Other than the unprotected splices, the rest of the attic wiring may not be a problem. It depends on the attic. If you have exposed wiring running across joists you can nail wood strips on either side of the wire to protect them.

The splices can be remade inside a Jbox.

"Home inspectors can be like that, at least the ones that real estate agents like. "

As for the inspector - good luck trying to get a refund. IMO (admittedly limited) experience with home inspectors, many of them are incompetent and unethical. One of the few jobs where the guy that gets paid takes absolutely no responsibility for his screw ups.
 
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Old 01-27-08, 10:07 AM
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Thanks for the posts everyone....

I put all of the wiring splices inside a junction box - and I secured the junction box to a joist. I tacked down each of the wires going into the box - just to make sure they won't be moving around.
 
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Old 01-29-08, 09:19 PM
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?

Colorado master electrician for 35 plus years. If the house was built in 1978, it would have conduit, or romex. If any electrical remodel was done from 1978, then some romex. Do you have exposed single conductor or romex? Open splices is one thing that will give you a problem, if not burn down your house. First I would contact a professional electrical contractor, have him take a look see. If you can post a picture or two, I will give a look and go from there.
 
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