According to the National Fire Protection Agency, between 2007 and 2011 over 144,000 fires had been caused by electrical malfunction.
That is a figure to think about, so electrical inspection is a necessary safety measure. The Electrical Safety Foundation advises to perform routine electrical inspections for property that is 40 years old or older, as well as when new appliances are added, the house has been renovated, or when purchasing a home. Most likely, you will order a complete home inspection when you are planning to buy a house, so a qualified electrician will do the procedure for you, but here are some items you can easily inspect yourself, visually.
The Service Panel
The electrical service panel is normally located in the basement, the garage, or outside the house. This panel contains circuit breakers, and both panel and the fuses should be inspected. Older homes have outdated round circuit breakers, and these are recommended to be replaced for newer ones with switches. When you inspect the panel visually, look for smoky, dark, or weary appearance. The elements that look worn out should better be updated by an electrician.
Older buildings can have knob-and-tube wiring (homes built prior to 1950) or aluminium wiring (buildings constructed between 1965 and 1973). Both types have performance characteristics that can make a home difficult to get insured. If you notice outdated round circuit breakers on the electrical service panel, most likely the building has an older type of wiring. New wiring is recommended for safety reasons, and it will also make the house easier to get insured.
The Lighting and Outlets Inside the Home
Even in newer homes, it is important to check outlets, cords, GFCIs, and light switches regularly. Outlets must not be overheated or smoked: that is a dangerous sign. Loose ones must be tightened up or replaced when they are outdated. Outlets and lighting should also be inspected for switching or humming noises, which can be the first sign of malfunction.
Outlets in Wet Areas
Make sure ground fault circuit interrupters are installed in wet areas of the home, like kitchen and bathrooms. Also, it’s important that light switches and outlets be installed a few inches from water. Finally, in areas where there’s water, including the exterior, the outlets must have GFSIs installed.
These items are what you can and should inspect from time to time or during your first walk-through in a home you are planning to purchase. However, a visual inspection like that will not be enough if you want to be confident in your home’s electrical safety or get homeowners insurance. This will require a thorough inspection by a qualified electrician or home inspector. OSI Inspection Services provides Electrical Panel Inspection as a service, so we are ready to check your property for electrical safety issues – just get in touch and schedule an inspection.