A great way to assess the condition of the electrical system of your home or a home you're interested in purchasing, a home electrical inspection is the perfect way to ensure a home that is safe and up to National Electrical Code. Over 50,000 electrical fires happen annually in the U.S., and the value of such inspections cannot be overemphasized.
When and Why You Need a Home Electrical Inspection
There are a number of times in life when an electrical inspection makes a wise investment:
- When Shopping for a New Home: A home electrical inspection is one of the most important things you can do when home shopping, helping you uncover hidden problems, and ensuring a fair home purchase price. Any modifications to the home's original wiring, from lighting to new breaker panels, may have been performed incorrectly, whether in ignorance or in efforts to cut corners. Issues are especially common in older/historic homes, where the number and quality of attempts from various owners over the years can add up to an electrical nightmare. These homes also commonly lack the power supply and wiring necessary to support the wide array of electronic devices used in homes today.
- Before Major Renovations: Before upgrading your home with a major renovation, a home electrical inspection is wise to ensure your current electrical system can support your renovation plans. This is the time to make upgrades, when walls are open, new additions aren't permanently in-place, and electrical upgrades can be easily and more inexpensively addressed. Before you start, a home energy audit may also be wise to help improve the efficiency of your home. Aire Serv, a Neighborly company, suggests to cut energy by starting simple.
- For Insurance Purposes: Home electrical inspections may also be requested by your insurer. They are commonly requested when you switch providers, after claims, and at specific age-points (such as a home's 30-year mark). This helps insurers assess your risk — and rates — identifying issues that could affect safety, that if addressed, could help you save on premiums.
Homeowners Make Lots of Electrical Mistakes
Electrical issues uncovered in a home electrical inspections are often due to homeowner error and ignorance. It is for this reason it is highly unwise to perform an electrical inspection yourself. Far from a DIY endeavor, it takes an expert eye and opinion to properly assess an electrical system. Most homeowners simply don't know what to look for. Hiring a professional to handle the job now can help you avoid expensive repairs and upgrades, annoying tripped breakers, or worse, electrical fires down the road.
What Do Electricians Look for in a Home Electrical Inspection?
- An electrical service large enough to support the electrical needs of the home (with room for future additions).
- Proper grounding.
- An electrical box that is properly wired, sufficient for the home's power needs, and has not been recalled. (There have been many electrical panel recalls, both old and current.)
- Overloaded circuits.
- Wiring that is in good working order (not aluminum, knob-and-tube, exposed, crimped, cracked, or damaged).
- Switches and outlets in good working order and the right type for the job/location in the home. (Plugs are supported in outlets; outlet boxes are not loose.)
- GFCIs are in-use in moisture-prone areas, including kitchen, laundry, bath, basement, garage, crawlspaces, and outdoors.
- Common homeowner electrical mistakes (wrong wire size; loose connections; missing junction boxes; exposed wires; wrong amperage circuit breaker; overloaded outlets/circuits).
- Deviations from the current standards of the National Electrical Code, making the risks known for those "grandfathered-in."
This blog is made available by Mr. Electric for educational purposes only to give the reader general information and a general understanding on the specific subject above. The blog should not be used as a substitute for a licensed electrical professional in your state or region. Check with city and state laws before performing any household project.