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Home inspector says 200 amp service overloaded, I don't agree...

Home inspector says 200 amp service overloaded, I don't agree...

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  #1  
Old 09-04-13, 12:11 PM
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Home inspector says 200 amp service overloaded, I don't agree...

I am in the process of selling our house, and the home inspector is coming by this week, and I just know he is going to try to tell me my main service panel is overloaded (he tried to tell us this when we bought the house, it's the same guy), and I would like to have some logic to back up my arguement that it is not overloaded.

Here is the situation:
The service panel is a 200 amp single phase 240v setup.
There are three breakers in the panel:

125 amp 2-pole <--- Serves a 100 amp sub panel in the house, the measured load with the AC on is only about 65-70 amps. The load testing was done when our AC was installed this summer. The heater is gas.

125 amp 2 pole <--- Serves a 100 amp sub panel in the garage. This panel is way oversized, and only has lighting and the washer and dryer on it. The dryer is a gas drier. Ive never load tested the panel, but I'd be hard pressed to say it pulls more than 10 amps.

60 amp 2 pole <--- This panel serves a shop building on the property that is 270 feet from the service panel. From my research, the limiting factor on on this breaker is the #2 wire that feeds the shop (it is only rated at 67 amps for a 3% drop). The sub panel in the shop is a 100 amp panel. The actual load is is from a 600 sf apartment, with an electric stove. So my current load estimate is around 33 amps for the shop. Ive never load tested the shop.

So based on my loading estimates, I'd say the service panel is only pulling about 100 to 140 amps. We have never tripped the main on the service panel. However the home inspector is going to just add up the amperage on breakers and from his last report "service panel appears to be overloaded'. I don't want my buyers to see this.

I don't want to spend all day bickering with the guy over this, so I am wondering if it just be easier to downsize some of the service panel breakers (assuming the wire will fit in the new breakers). Like the garage breaker, from 125 amps down to 60 amps, and the main hosue breaker from 125 amps down to 100.

Any thoughts on how I can deal with?
Thanks,
C. Alan
 
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  #2  
Old 09-04-13, 12:40 PM
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Welcome to the forums!

Sure. Ask the inspector if he's ever seen a panel in which the branch circuit breaker ratings didn't add up to more than the main breaker rating. Does he write that comment for all of them?

What is the sum of all of the branch circuit breaker ratings in your 100A sub in the house? Does he consider that one overloaded too?

This inspector needs more education. Unfortunately, it will probably not meet your needs to try to provide that.

Sure, drop the breaker sizes temporarily. Overprotection never started a fire yet. Blow a little dust on them after you put the cover back on.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 09-04-13 at 02:14 PM.
  #3  
Old 09-04-13, 12:59 PM
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Unless he has some data to back up what he's saying, he should not be talking about something he apparently knows nothing about.

Just as a municipal inspector, they can't just say what or how they "think something should be. They need to have some data/documentation to back it up.

You could Google Mike Holt's residential load calculation worksheet and show him that. It is a very good an easy method.

These home inspector's take an 8 hour class and think they're instant experts on everything, when they don't know jack.

I had one of the genius' take the cover off a panel and then turned on the generator breaker and smoked a 25 KW generator and tried to cover his ignorance and tell the homeowner it was a f'd installation.

I loathe these SOB's.
 
  #4  
Old 09-04-13, 01:03 PM
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That "inspector" would faint if he saw my installation. I have a 200 ampere service and counting up all the circuit breakers in the service panel and two adjacent panels adds up to over 900 amperes. I doubt that my main CB has ever seen even a 100 ampere load.
 
  #5  
Old 09-04-13, 01:40 PM
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Adding up the breakers is totally meaningless. Your inspector needs more training.
 
  #6  
Old 09-04-13, 02:31 PM
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I see your point about counting breakers. I may hit him up with that fact. I am going to look into replacing at least one of the 125 amp breakers. I think I would rather spend $20 on that than argue with the guy for an hour.
 
  #7  
Old 09-04-13, 03:57 PM
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125 amp 2-pole <--- Serves a 100 amp sub panel in the house,
125 amp 2 pole <--- Serves a 100 amp sub panel in the garage
These are the things you need to change.

Can't have 125 breaker protecting 100 amp panel, regardless of the load.
 
  #8  
Old 09-04-13, 04:58 PM
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Good catch, Wirenut! That went right by me the first reading.
 
  #9  
Old 09-04-13, 05:20 PM
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I think Wirenut hit the nail on the head on that one.

If the home inspector try's to tell you that your main panel is overloaded, ask him for a copy of the load calculation he must have done to determine that. I doubt he will have one.
 
  #10  
Old 09-04-13, 05:33 PM
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Bull's eye, Wirenut. Give that man a cigar!
 
  #11  
Old 09-04-13, 07:10 PM
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I had a suspicion that those 125 amp breakers might be a problem. The good news is that I can replace one with a 60 amp, and the other with a 100 amp. The bad news is that they are Zinsco breakers ($$).

Now I know Zinsco breakers have a bad reputation in some circles, but I just don't have the time or the funds to replace the entire service panel.
 

Last edited by C. Alan; 09-04-13 at 07:41 PM.
  #12  
Old 09-04-13, 07:58 PM
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I wish that you had stated up front that you had a Zinsco panel as most of us would have advised you to replace it or give the buyer a credit so that they can replace it. While no formal recall has ever been issued against the Zinsco panels there are numerous documented cases of them failing in service.
 
  #13  
Old 09-05-13, 07:20 AM
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To further complicate the issue, the cost of 100 amp Zinsco replacement breakers will take you a long way toward replacement cost and I don't believe the replacement Zinsco breakers available are U.L. Listed. Here is an example from a big box store that states the breakers meet U.L. 489 Standard. Meeting U.L. requirements does not mean they are U.L. Listed.

Zinsco replacement circuit breaker type UBIZ (type QC) 2-pole 100A at Menards

Zinsco replacement circuit breaker type UBIZ (type QC) 2-pole 60A at Menards
 
  #14  
Old 09-05-13, 07:48 AM
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Are your sub panels Zinsco also?

If not, you could also put back feed 100 amp breakers in your sub panels with a hold down kit.
 
  #15  
Old 09-05-13, 09:05 AM
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The subs look like square D panels. I am not familiar with hold down kits. Could you give more details?
 
  #16  
Old 09-05-13, 11:02 AM
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The code requires back fed plug in type breaker to be secured so that it can't be just pulled out.
http://static.schneider-electric.us/...1100HO9902.pdf
 
  #17  
Old 09-05-13, 07:00 PM
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If not, you could also put back feed 100 amp breakers in your sub panels with a hold down kit.
How far away are the subpanels again? I am thinking they would be too far to utilize the tap rule and you'd still have to replace the 125 amp breakers.
 
  #18  
Old 09-05-13, 07:19 PM
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Is there a 200 amp "main" breaker somewhere upstream that controls all power to the house?

If the first main disconnect is your service panel with three breaker sets (you're allowed six) and the breaker ratings (125 + 125 + 60) add up to more than your service rating (200 amps) then the inspector might write up "panel appears to be overloaded."

Did you do your own load analysis to show that the 200 amp service is adequate for the house and outbuilding?

Do any of the subpanels have more breaker handles than are permitted (stated on the panel label)? Such may be the case if you used tandem breakers.
 
  #19  
Old 09-05-13, 08:12 PM
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I think I may be in the clear on this one....

After reading what wirenut said I went back and double checked the panels. To my surprise, I read the sizes wrong.

My house has a 125 amp panel in it, and my garage is also a 125. So I may be in the clear on that issue. So those two breakers I thought were oversized are ok.

I downloaded a nice load calc spreadsheet today, and I played with it some. I am pretty sure I am well within my 200 amp service capacity. I may print out the load calc and have it handy when the inspection comes.
 
  #20  
Old 09-06-13, 05:09 AM
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My house has a 125 amp panel in it, and my garage is also a 125. So I may be in the clear on that issue. So those two breakers I thought were oversized are ok.

I downloaded a nice load calc spreadsheet today, and I played with it some. I am pretty sure I am well within my 200 amp service capacity. I may print out the load calc and have it handy when the inspection comes.
From your descriptions, I also suspect your load will be well under 200 amps. Did you look at the wire sizes feeding the two 125 amp subpanels? Printing out the load calc for backup when you meet the home inspector is a good idea.
 
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