We inspected this property in Port Coquitlam, BC recently. It had an illegal suite, and we found a number of dangerous electrical problems from the home owner’s “DIY” project…
The sub-panel was badly corroded and had no identifying stickers or information. We can see (photo below) that it was probably salvaged from another building where is was exposed to water. Corroded or water-damaged panels are always a safety hazard, as rusted metal can overhead or arc, causing a fire.
Next, we see a corroded lug. A quick surface temperature measurement showed it was overheating.
A double tap is an illegal repair whereupon two conductors (wires) share the same breaker. It’s usually done when there are no spare locations to add another breaker. The problem? The breaker is only designed to carry one wire. If you add a second wire the connection becomes loose and the wires make poor contact. The result is overheating, and the breaker may also not perform properly. (Tripping early or late).
Below we see the real double-tap at the red arrow. Fixing a double-tap is easy – but in this case replacing the sub panel with a larger one was the best option.
The buyers purchased the property and the electrical safety upgrades are currently under way.
Author David Fairbairn is a certified, licensed home inspector serving Vancouver and the Lower Mainland. He has been featured in the media and has contributed to "24" Newspaper, and Global TV. He has spent years working with residential and commercial building projects, and holds a Power Engineering License in BC. Why not give him a call for your next Home Inspection? Call 604 395-2795 or email email@example.com today!