House Inspector

Engineering Investigations Expert Testimony

Example Case Studies

Study 1    Representing Electrical Contractor's insurance company.    House Fire

Contractor wired a new single-story brick home and failed to tighten the terminal screws on the back of a bedroom duplex receptacle.  Two years later, the house experienced a fireLoose Receptacle Connection

 originating at the bedroom receptacle due to heat generated by loose connections.  The electrical investigation revealed that the original arc-fault circuit breaker required by local and national codes to protect all bedroom receptacle circuits was replaced by another electrical contractor with a standard circuit breaker violating the Codes and allowing the high resistance connections to become an ignition source.  The homeowner stated that the second contractor replaced the circuit breaker in the garage panel and never entered the house to determine the cause of the original breaker tripping.

Study 2    Representing Homeowner's insurance company.    HVAC    Lightning

Heating and Air Conditioning contractor told homeowner, retired minister, that the entire heating and cooling system had to be replaced due to lightning damage.  This claim occurred during the heating season.  The electrical investigation revealed that the natural gas package unit (furnace and air conditioning mechanical components are contained in a common enclosure) was  damaged by lightning that occurred on the same day as the furnace failure.  But, the damage was minor.  Testing and visual observation revealed the A/C components are intact and the only damage to the furnace was the gas igniter wire.  The investigating engineer contacted the HVAC contractor and requested a free igniter wire replacement due to their false diagnosis of the problem.  The insured saved his insurance deductable and the HVAC system was fully functional the next day.  The insurance company saved thousands of dollars in an unnecessary HVAC replacement.

Study 3    Representing Homeowner's Attorney.    Expert Testimony    Aluminum Wiring

A certified home inspector was hired by a prospective homeowner, a nurse, to inspect a two-story home built in 1972 located in a nice west Tennessee neighborhood.  After living in the home for a period of time, she started to notice an electrical type of smell in various parts of the house.  A relative discovered that the house was wired with aluminum wiring.  The homeowner and her attorney reviewed the home inspector's report and it clearly states that the house is wired with copper wiring.  The home inspector realizing his mistake, hired an electrical contractor to use UL approved aluminum-to-copper connectors to add copper jumpers to all electrical connections in an effort to alleviate the problem.  The homeowner continued to have electrical problems.  The attorney, after 4 years of trying to get the wiring replaced by home inspector's insurance company, hired a Sr. Forensic Electrical Engineer to inspect the property and provide expert testimony as to the proper remediation required.  The homeowner won the case due to expert testimony that included producing evidence that the UL approved connectors used in this home were not tested properly by UL and had a history of allowing problems to occur.

Study 4    Representing Cadillac Escalade owner's insurance company.    Vehicle Fire

While driving the used truck, smoke started issuing from under the dash.  A short time later,Penny in cigarette lighter socket.

 the truck was sold and damaged components, including a melted under-dash wiring harness, radios, and other dash components were removed.  After obtaining permission from the new owner, the pieces were examined to find the ignition source.  A 1981 Lincoln penny was found lodged in the center console cigarette lighter receptacle causing an over-current condition and melting the wiring harness and associated fuse block.  No, the fuse did not blow, the fuse holder melted instead.  This example is given to say, be careful with loose change around uncovered 12-volt receptacles.

Study 5    Representing a General Contractor.    House Drywalled Prior to Electrical Inspection

A city electrical inspector placed a low-voltage inspection sticker in a power panel instead of the security panel by mistake.  The construction crew of this million dollar home assumed the sticker was the power rough-in approval sticker and installed all the drywall and most of the trim before the error was caught.  The General Contractor was given two choices, remove the drywall and reveal the covered wiring or have a Professional Engineer provide a sealed (engineer's stamp) report certifying that the wiring met local and national Code requirements.  The house wiring was electronically circuit traced to verify proper load diversification and wire sizes, and checked with additional instruments to determine if any of the wire insulation was compromised by nails, straps, screws, or poor workmanship.  Only one circuit failed the testing and the cable was replaced with minimal drywall intrusion.  A visual inspection of the failed copper wire revealed no outer jacket penetrations or abrasions.  The exact cause of the wire failure was not investigated, but this wire was exposed to several rain storms over a period of time in the back of the electrician's truck prior to installation.