A home electrical inspection is primarily about safety. The inspection is designed to be a complete review, with set consistent standards, of a residence’s whole electric system. Before you know if you need an electrical inspection, and then schedule one, it can be useful to know how they work, what’s checked and what might be found in an inspection.
What You Need to Know
A residential electrical inspection done by a licensed professional. The inspection standards are from rules and procedures set by the National Electrical Code and the National Fire Protection Association. The NEC and NFPA sets these safety standards, and is regularly evaluating and updating them, with guidance and expertise from electrical professionals. When something in an inspection doesn’t meet code, or fails, this is according to the National Electrical Code. Each part of the inspection has to meet a minimum safety standard.
A Home Electrical Inspection Checklist
A certified electrician will perform the inspection and check each part of the system according to the safety standards. During the assessment, electrical devices, components, system parts, panels, outlets, wires and meters will be checked. Here’s a basic list of what the electrician will inspect.
- Wires – Wires may be worn, and can fail just due to wear, age or anything else due to age such as being loose. Damaged, frayed or blackened wires are a potential danger, too. Improperly installed wiring can fail an inspection.
- Circuits – An expert will examine all of the circuits in your electric system. It should have the right number of circuits and they should be functioning properly.
- Outlets – An inspector will see if outlets are working right and safely. Is there any overheating? Are there circuits which are overloaded?
- Panels – Worn or defective breakers can break or damage appliances or expensive electronics. An inspector should check everything about a home’s service panel.
- Meter – Meters can malfunction or wear over long periods of time. There can be corrosion or physical damage to an electric meter.
When the inspection’s complete, you will have a thorough report and understanding of your house’s electrical safety. If any part of the electrical system fails, this is meaning it’s not passed the minimum safety standard. This is an electric problem and can be a safety hazard, perhaps a fire hazard, for the whole structure.
Typical Issues Discovered in an Electrical Inspection
- Smoke Alarms – There could be missing smoke alarms or old, non-functioning smoke alarms. The standard is one smoke alarm on each floor of a home. Then, it’s highly recommended to have a smoke alarm near each bedroom. Batteries should be tested and/or changed once a year. New smoke alarms should be installed, even if the previous one seems fine, every 10 years.
- Trees, Plants Touching Power Lines – An inspection should catch any trees, plants, bushes or anything leaning on, touching or very close to a power line. This goes for anything close enough for a gust of wind or sagging from rain, snow or ice which could sometimes touch a line. A heavy enough branch or object could break, fall on a power line, and snap the line, which would then be a greater shock or fire hazard.
- Bad Wiring – Electrical inspections often find some miscues or worse from years of fixes and DIY projects, or even shoddy “professional” work over the years. There are many potential problems in this category. Frayed wiring, old wires which should’ve been replaced, wires into an outlet with the polarity wrong, loose wiring, outlets or boxes. Anything which could increasingly go bad or be an increased short or shock hazard should be flagged here.
- GFCI Outlets – Faulty GFCI outlets or a lack of GFCI outlets should be caught in an inspection. This is more common of an issue in older homes, but it can be a problem no matter the age or condition of the whole property. GFCI outlets are required on outlets often near water – so kitchens and bathrooms. Your system could have frequent GFCI trips which are basically false alarms. This is bad because you might ignore when it trips and is a legitimate danger. Replacing or installing GFCI outlets is simple for a pro electrician. GFCIs are important safety features which stop shocks and electrocutions from using electric devices in wet spots or areas.
- Double-Lugged Breakers – When more than one wire is connected to one breaker it’s dangerous. Most circuit breakers are meant to go with one wire, that’s it. Putting two or more wires on a breaker can cause damage, shorts, arcing and fire.
- Service Panels – There can be multiple checks, and issues, with a service panel during an inspection. An electrician might find wrong or outdated diagrams, breaker damage, other physical wear or damage, or other inefficiencies. The circuits and electrical system might be outdate if its been decades, with decades of electronics, appliances, HVAC and other systems have been added to a home’s power usage.
- Ungrounded Components – Inspections often find ungrounded receptacles. This is more likely in older homes. You can quickly examine if your home’s outlets are grounded or ungrounded. Ungrounded electrical outlets have two slots to plug into. Grounded outlets have two slots and a hole for a ground wire. It’s a smart idea to have ungrounded receptacles checked and updated to decrease danger of fire should there be a fault on the circuit.
- Drip Loops – A drip loop keeps water from coming into a structure through were wires, cables and cords run. Water inside walls can get electrical components wet and cause a hazard.
- Improperly Buried Wire – Some wires should be buried. This is to keep the wires away from damage, animals and the elements. If a wire wasn’t buried right, or was but is now at or near the surface, an electrician should see and fix this.
- Covering All Covers – Outlets, junction boxes, switches and receptacles should have protective covers on them and they should be secure. This protects the electric parts and components. It protects your family, kids, pets and property from sudden electrical injury. There might be damaged, shorted or wet electric wiring or parts, but the coverings are a line of protection.
When is it a Good Time to Call an Electrician? Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide everything you need when thinking about a whole home generator for your home and family. Our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.