Petaluma Home Inspector – Electrical Wiring Systems Double Taps

Petaluma Home Inspector Steve Ramos on Inspecting Electrical Systems

Home inspectors are required to look at the readily accessible wiring.  In most cases this means that the panel cover for the electrical service is removed and the wiring and breakers are visually inspected.  One relatively common home inspector finding is the “double tap”.  A double tap is when two electrical wires are connected to one breaker and that breaker is not rated to accept to wires.  When this occurs one of electrical wires is invariably not fastened firmly to the screw and this can create a loose connection.

There a few important implications when wires are improperly fastened to the breaker.  The first is that the wire may be loose or have poor connectivity.  Poor connections in electrical system create excess heat or sparking which may result in damage to wiring and generation of more heat and sparking.  Ultimately, this may result in a fire.  It is important to note that some jurisdictions allow double tapping of wires under certain conditions.  Ultimately it is up to the building official to decide when is acceptable and what is not.  In either respect, the issue of double tapping is not a good practice as it is rarely done safely and in most cases violates the UL listing for the breaker that it is installed upon.

Fortunately, fixing this condition can sometimes be easily accomplished.  One method is to remove the wires and pigtail them in an approved connecting device and run a single wire to the breaker.  This creates a solid connection at the breaker but there is always the possibility of a loose connection at the pig tail.  The other method is to add a breaker to the panel board and connect the second wire to its own breaker.  This is the best solution but often not possible due to the lack of an available space to add a breaker.

Steve Ramos Certified Home Inspector

Steve Ramos is a Petaluma Home Inspector and is Certified by InterNachi.  In addition to being a Petaluma Home Inspector Steve is a  Mold Inspector and Building Science Thermographer.  He has over 10 years of home inspection field experience.  Steve has a very diverse and well rounded background.  His reports are detailed, accurate, and timely.  Steve has been featured on over 104 episodes of HGTV’s House Detective.  He offers his services in all nine Bay Area counties including:  Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Novato, San Rafael, Napa, Sausalito, San Francisco, Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Rohnert Park, Cotati, Bodega Bay, and Cloverdale.

For more information about our home inspection services please visit our service pages