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posted: 1/26/2013 5:00 AM

Low wiring to the garage can be dangerous

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By Dwight Barnett

Q. The sale of my home recently fell through because the home inspector's report stated, "the electric service to the garage was too low." No other explanation came with the report. When I tried to talk to the inspector he referred me back to the buyer. Maybe you can help. What do you think he's talking about?

A. If you had a contract with the purchaser, you more than likely would have the opportunity to repair the service wire and complete the sale of the home. If you were selling the home yourself, without the assistance of a real estate agent, your contract may not include this language and the buyer might be allowed to walk away from the deal.

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Your question implies that the garage is detached from the home.

Residential wiring is normally 240 volts and all residential overhead wiring must be a minimum of 10 feet from the lowest section of the wiring to the ground or to a sidewalk, deck, porch etc. If the lowest section of the wiring passes over a driveway, it must be a minimum of 12 feet high. A typical rental truck or service truck is approximately 11 feet from the ground to the top of the truck.

If the wiring was lower and the truck's body came into contact with the wiring, you could be electrocuted the instant you stepped out of the truck. I have also seen older homes that may have originally had the proper clearances from the home to the garage, but over time, changes were made which lowered the clearances. A room addition to the home or a carport addition to the garage can alter the clearances to the overhead wiring.

When the wiring passes over a low-sloped or flat roof, the clearances to the wiring are now increased to eight feet from the roof, whereas only three feet were required above the original pitched roof. As you can see there are many variations that are required for safety, and I would strongly recommend you hire a licensed and experienced electrician to review your problem.

• Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Write to him with home improvement questions at d.Barnett@insightbb.com.

Scripps Howard News Service

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