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Why Your Home Needs an Electrical Inspection

We’re all pretty comfortable with the idea of getting regular medical checkups. We have schedules for inspecting and maintaining our cars, even before problems arise. So why don’t we think the same way about the electrical wiring in our homes?

We’re all pretty comfortable with the idea of getting regular medical checkups. We have schedules for inspecting and maintaining our cars, even before problems arise. So why don’t we think the same way about the electrical wiring in our homes?

Just like cars, computers, or even the human body, your home’s electrical system needs routine maintenance over time to keep it in the best shape possible and to stop bigger problems from developing. Let’s take a look at just a few important reasons to have regular electrical inspections of your home.

An Electrical Inspection Can Detect Wear in Wiring

Checking out the status of a home’s wiring is one of the biggest reasons to get an electrical inspection, because problems with the wiring represent a major contributor to electrical fires. While technological advancements have decreased the public risk of electrical fires significantly in the past several decades, they still happen.

In 2011, over 47,000 house fires were electrical in origin, according to the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA). Of the fires investigated in that study, 63 percent were due to wiring issues. Over time, it’s normal for a wiring system to experience a little wear-and-tear, and any frayed or worn wires can increase your risk for an electrical hazard.

You May Be Behind Modern Safety Standards

For lots of homeowners, the idea of getting up to modern electrical safety standards (especially in older homes) only comes up when it’s time to sell or rent. While it is necessary to do so during the closing process of a property, it’s also a good idea to consider upgrading to modern standards even if you have no plans to sell. Technological advancements are enhancing our electrical safety capacity every single year, and older systems can place you at risk. A couple of examples of common outdated electrical setups in homes include:

  • Outdated outlets. If your home has two-prong outlets, you’re missing a big safety feature. That third prong is called the “ground” prong, and it protects you from getting an electrical shock from your appliances in the event of a loose wire. If you cut off the third prong on appliances to accommodate two-prong outlets (or use three-to-two-prong adapters), you’re inviting a huge safety risk into your home.
  • Outdated fuse boxes. If you still have a fuse box, upgrading to a modern circuit breaker can be an investment – but in many circumstances, it’s worth it. Inevitably, fuses and fuse boxes require a lot of maintenance, and are not as safe as today’s modern counterparts. First, fuses must be replaced (rather than reset like in a circuit breaker). Further, if an incorrect fuse is placed in the wrong spot, such as a 10-amp fuse in a 15-amp spot, you’re essentially setting the bar dangerously high for the fuse box to kick in and break the circuit.

Upgrading your electrical system will not only protect you and your family (and increase the value of your home if you eventually sell), but it will also likely lower your insurance costs, too!

An Inspector Can Certify DIY or Renovation Work

Even if a home project had nothing to do with electricity, it’s a good idea to get inspected. It’s easy to accidentally drill into a wall and hit a wire or damage the electrical system of your home during any kind of renovation. An inspection will certify that your home improvement projects had no effect on your home’s electrical system – and if you have performed any DIY electrical projects, it will ensure that everything was done correctly.

Requirements regarding electrical inspections vary by state. In some scenarios, it’s actually required by the government to get an electrical inspection following a renovation project to a home. Always ensure that any of your projects comply with local laws and regulations.

An Inspection Can Protect Your Expensive Appliances

Not only does an inadequate electrical system put you at risk, but it also can damage your appliances. Even though this is a well-documented hazard, only 22 percent of homeowners have adequate appliance protection from brownouts and power surges.

An overloading circuit can wreak havoc on your large, expensive appliances either gradually or very quickly, depending on the severity of the issue. If there is a weak area in your wiring, a power surge could lead to a short circuit, which is not only a safety hazard for fires, but also hazardous to your appliances. It’s also a good idea to get inspected when you add any large appliance to your home to ensure not only the safety of your appliance, but that it’s configured on an adequate circuit, and that your system can handle the electrical needs of the appliance.

What Does an Inspection Entail?

Depending on the size of your home and the complexity of your system, and electrical inspection may take a few hours or a full day. During the inspection, a certified electrician will test your outlets, light bulbs, light switches, inspect and test your circuit breaker and surge protection, and assess your home’s grounding. The inspector will also generate a detailed report of any electrically hazardous areas in the home, as well as appropriate recommendations for moving forward.

In addition to checking the status of your electrical system, inspectors also frequently check the placement and integrity of your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, as well as for general wear and tear, wiring insulation, and any other characteristics of your electrical system that could pose a risk.

As mentioned above, you should get an electrical inspection after any major renovation, appliance addition, or if you suspect any electrical issues. Barring no problems at all, it’s a good idea to get inspected every 5-10 years. That frequency will help ensure that you keep your system up-to-date, that no issues are silently developing over time, and that you, your family, and your home are safe from electrical hazards.

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