Don’t Do As I Do, …Do As I Say!……………(You Don’t Want No Sparks, Baby!)

Don’t Do As I Do, Do As I Say!…………… Don’t open the electrical panels. That’s my job (or your electricians). We have the training, but there is always a degree of risk. So don’t open your panels! Period.

Around here the electrical utilities normally lock-out the larger voltage switching and bus bar panels. They do this for a reason. Higher voltages are dangerous. There is no serge protection and arcing potential is high. (That means sparks baby!, You’se don’t want no sparks.!)

The lock-out devises are simple one-use wire and plastic things with the utilities logo in them. If they’ve been opened you can’t fake it and put them back on. They (The utility company, the electrician, and the inspector) are going to know. So those panels are meant to be left alone.

But if the tags are opened or gone, or lying on the floor, I will (very carefully) take a peak, just to ensure nothing’s wrong. Usually all is fine, but imagine what I thought of this:

panel cover

Where that pencil is, that’s where the lock-out tag should be, hymmm.

So as you can imagine I had a look?

Well this is what I saw:

elect sw panel

I may have said “Oh f…..” out loud, but I took a picture and closed it back up.


Why? , Because this is what you should expect to see in a switch panel of this type;

Reg Sw Panerl

Yeah, cartridge fuses that have big thick solid metal contact bars which in conductivity are very nearly the same as the metal in those big black wires that you see there.

But in the other switch panel behind the pencil closer, those are thin pieces of metal corner beading used by the drywall carpenters to create perfect corners on joint taped gyproc walls.

They are not electrical components! They are scraps from construction that should not be in an electrical panel. You might as well have used a piece of a tin can!. That metal is thicker.

There is a piece of wire, a single strand, tucked inside it to make it thick enough to be held by the fuse contacts. this does not equal the load capacity of the supply and load wires (big black ones) entering and leaving the switch box.

What does that mean. It means when there is a demand load on this service these pieces of metal are going to get hot. Maybe really hot. Maybe they could start a fire hot.


So I said “Oh Frozen” NOT.

I said ” Oh, Further investigation required by a qualified master electrician! ”  and then took my photo and closed the cover.

In this case it is not an emergency because further on the load side the power is split into two smaller switch boxes and theses are both properly fused for protection.

However a qualified electrician is a specialist and has the final say on the safety of this system. This was the most surprising detail I discovered here, but not the only concern.


So when you need a full inspection or need to know if further specialized service of any type is required you need the benefit of a qualified and experienced inspector.

If you’re in the Montreal area and you need a full inspection…………..


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

You found eves trough guttering inside! Where? An OMG File.

You found eves trough guttering inside!  Where?                                                        An OMG File.

rain gutter

Oh yeah. There it is. And where is it?     NO.  Not in the attic.!

Yup. That’s where I found it. The grey stuff you see is cellulose insulation.  The insulation you see in the gutter is stained and densely compacted.

And you know what that means, right?  Yup again, it means water!

Oh boy. This is news no one is going to want to hear. This is a million dollar mansion on a country estate, in horse country at that.  And this is not some MacMansion slapped up in a hurry, no this is well built and not very old.

I went to find the owner and told him what I’d found, showed him the photos. He was surprised. He’d never seen it and he had closely supervised the construction.

So I started asking him for details;


  • Was the insulation placed before the roofing? No. The roof shingling was done before the insolation was blown in.
  • Was the masonry done before the roofing?  Yes, all except the chimney.


There; we had the answer. The inside gutters were next to the chimney.

The chimney was not done before the roof and insulation were.  Masons…you have to take them when you ca get ’em.

So the chimney opening had a temporary cover and plastic sheeting and gutters were tacked up to keep the drippings off the insulation and out of the house until the masons finished.

So, of course, no one went back to remove the gutters when the work was done.


So when you need a full inspection……………………


Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post

(AP) The apartment was dirty with mold. Insurance wouldn’t settle. An OMG File.

 The apartment was dirty with mold. Insurance wouldn’t settle.    It was A.P.          An OMG File.

girl wearing mask

I was calling to investigate a ‘mold’ problem that turned out to be dirt, soot in fact.

I asked my client why she thought there was mold. She brought out the air quality test report.

As I was reading it, her daughter came in from the other room. She was home sick from school and wearing a face mask.

She had respiratory problems. My hair stood on end.

“When is her medical appointment?” I asked. “Tomorrow” was the answer.

“So when you go see the doctors bring this air quality report and show them theses two words that I’ve underlined here.” So they did.

I called to follow up a week later and asked how the appointment went. Both the mother and daughter, as well as everyone else who lives in that building (8 people), are being sent to see specialists.

Oh yeah the two words; aspegillius penicillii ………(AP)

This is the plural form of aspergillus penicillium. This is a seriously severe group of molds that are toxic to humans and animals.

So if you have any reports or documents that read as if they were latin, have them explained to you.  A lab technicians report is only data.  It won’t tell you if a condition is serious or what to do about it.

Report interpretation and remedial consulting is a part of our service in the Montreal area.



Original blog post on ActiveRain: Link to Blog Post