An electrical inspection is done to thoroughly check your existing electrical system, ensuring that everything is at par with your city code or National Electric Code. This is done to safeguard the safety of the homeowners and of course property.
There are several reasons why one will undergo an electrical inspection:
• Planning to purchase a home
• Planning to sell a home
• New construction or remodeling of the house
• You are installing a new electrical appliance
• Your home is over 40 years old
To continue with our home inspection series, our focus will be on those who are planning to purchase or sell a home with a concentration on the electricity part.
A home inspection of course is not solely on the electrical system but will cover the home’s foundation, plumbing system, roof, HVAC, structural components, and more.
It is administered by professional home inspectors (usually from ASHI, NACHI, or from Certified Master Inspectors from the Certified Master Inspectors Board.), and as we have mentioned in our previous article (click here to view) though home inspectors are trained to inspect the electrical components of a property based on industry-standards, it will not be the same if carried out by a licensed electrician.
In addition, the home inspectors may recommend necessary solutions to home issues, but they will not be able to do the repairs, replacement, and installation. A licensed electrician will be able to provide a more in-depth report through their electrical inspection (same with plumbers regarding plumbing-related issues) and could throw in recommendations on energy efficiency and upgrades.
Having a home inspection is part of the due diligence of sellers and especially buyers, as acquiring a property is a huge decision involving a lot of money.
When it comes to purchasing a property, a home inspection is not simply a pass or failure, as there are several things to resolve. But before going to that, let’s review the common electrical mistakes identified in a home inspection (visit the previous article for more details):
1. Exposed wiring and splicing – this is one of the most frequently observed electrical issues. This is labeled as a serious issue (could cause an electrical fire) but an easy fix with a licensed electrician.
2. Defective or no Ground Fault Interrupters outlets – GFCI has been required now for outlets that are prone to be wet, like in the bathroom, kitchen, basement, and laundry area.
3. Improperly wired switches – this usually happens when homeowners employ someone not electrically knowledgeable or attempt to do DIY repairs, resulting to reverse polarity in the house’s receptacles.
4. Outdated electrical panel box – if you are purchasing a much older house, there is a possibility that the electrical panel box is not updated. This is a hazard as the box is not matched to the electrical needs of modern appliances and gadgets.
5. Open slots in electrical panel – this is a quick fix by just adding filler plates. If not action, rats and other pests crawling inside could happen, resulting in electrical shocks or damaged systems.
6. No proper cover for exterior outlets – covers are added to protect your exterior outlets from the elements. Without one, your exterior outlet could stop working or could result in electrocution especially if exposed to water.
7. Painted outlets – some homeowners resort to painting their outlet covers so that it will be in sync with the surrounding; however, it may be good aesthetically but not advisable for safety, as overheating can happen or buttons may not properly work with paints being trapped in the outlet.
8. Bushes and trees touching power lines – if trees or bushes are not well-maintained, branches or trees could touch or damage power lines.
9. Double-tapped circuit breakers – with the exception of circuit breakers that have special clips to accommodate two wires, a double-tapped circuit breaker could result in red marks to home inspection.
10. Ungrounded receptacles – another issue with older homes is having ungrounded receptacles, which ups the chance for electrocution and electrical fires.
Having the above will certainly earn a red flag from your home inspector. Once the issues are pinpointed and depending on the results of the report, buyers should prepare for the next step.
So what should you do if you “fail” the electrical side of a home inspection?
1. Study the home inspection results. Some reports provide photos of the properties to clearly show the issue. It will also be easier for you to weigh in on the issue if you attended the home inspection, as you could discuss the issues with your home inspector (not only regarding electricity).
2. Find an experienced and licensed electrician. Too many red flags in your electrical system warrant the need for a more in-depth electrical inspection. Should you also wish to push through purchasing the property, the electrician would be able to carry out the repairs and installation depending on your agreement with the seller.
Here are things to consider when looking for an electrician near you:
• Make sure that they have a valid license
• Check if your electrician is bonded and has the necessary permit to work in your area.
• Ask for their expertise, training and if they have warranty and insurance, in case you will hire them for repairs after the electrical inspection.
• Look for an electrician near you to avoid the additional cost (cost of travel could be added to your final bill)
• Ask for a recommendation from a trusted friend or even your home inspector
• Google up to see if they have complaints (you can never be too sure) or just click here to find trusted electricians near you.
3. Study the electrical inspection report. You can also ask for estimates on the repair and installation costs so that you have a rough idea of the costs before discussing them with your seller.
4. Check your contract if you can cancel the deal if unsatisfied with the result of the home inspection especially if you are not willing to purchase a property with issues or if you think that you will exceed your budget due to extensive repairs. Again, go back to your contract. Ideally, before entering any contract, make sure that you are properly protected and have the option to cancel.
5. If you still want the property, you can also renegotiate based on the results of the inspection or request for repairs. Use the report as a guide for home improvement (both the home inspection and electrical inspection)
6. Once repairs are done, schedule a re-inspection to confirm that all issues are corrected.
A home inspection is one of the best decisions you will make as a home buyer. Consulting with a licensed electrician will also ensure that the important system of the property is thoroughly inspected and safe. This will also help in gauging expenses, house value, and setting your budget.