Q: What is Romex wire? The person who inspected the house I'm selling will not return my calls to explain where the wires are located and why they have to be protected.

Q: What is Romex wire? The person who inspected the house I'm selling will not return my calls to explain where the wires are located and why they have to be protected.


A: A professional home inspector cannot release information to you, to the selling agents or to anyone without the permission of the person who hired him.


The ethics code for the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) states: "Inspectors shall not disclose inspection results or client information without client approval. Inspectors, at their discretion, may disclose observed immediate safety hazards to occupants exposed to such hazards, when feasible."


This may be one reason your phone calls have not been returned. However, common courtesy would require the inspector to make some contact just to let you know why he cannot reveal information. If the wiring is dangerous, the inspector has an obligation to inform you.


Romex wire is a brand name commonly referred to in the trade as "nonmetallic sheathed cable," typically found in residential construction. Romex consists of three separate wires all protected by an outer layer of insulating materials. Of these three inner wires, two are also insulated and one is an uninsulated or bare copper wire.


I understand that when the insulated Romex wire is installed in a location easily accessible by humans, it should be protected against accidental impact or contact. If the outer layer of insulation is accidentally damaged and one of the two insulated wires also is damaged, you would be exposed to a possible electrical shock.


I often see Romex wiring in good condition but exposed under kitchen sinks for a garbage disposal, or the wiring is exposed from the service box to an electric water heater.


In either instance, the Romex wire' s outer protective insulation could be damaged by accidental impact, which could expose the 120-volt wires to human contact. Such contact can cause a serious shock or even death, making the wiring's protection extremely important.


Dwight Barnett is a certified master inspector with the American Society of Home Inspectors. Send questions to C. Dwight Barnett, Evansville Courier & Press, P.O. Box 286, Evansville, IN 47702 or Barnett@insightbb.com.