The electrical system is among the most important in any home, and also one of the most dangerous. Electrical problems can be both costly and potentially destructive, and they’re not always apparent at a glance. Prospective buyers considering the purchase of a property or homeowners who are preparing to put their properties on the market can mitigate much of the risk posed by a potentially faulty electrical system by obtaining a thorough building inspection report.
While it’s wise for both buyers and sellers to engage a professional building inspector, it’s also important to know a bit about the most commonly discovered electrical issues in order to have a more thorough understanding of your building inspection report. With this knowledge, you’ll also be able to determine the best methods of addressing any found issues and make necessary adjustments.
- Unsheathed Permanent Wiring – It’s important for all permanent wiring to be covered with conduit. Temporary extension cords are also not to be used for permanent power and can be particularly problematic in exterior applications.
- Warning Signs in the Power Box – One of the most common areas where professional building inspectors find and report electrical issues is the power box. During an evaluation, a professional building inspector will look for telltale signs of trouble like melted, exposed or burned wires. It’s clearly best for all situations that the power box be easily accessible.
- Exposed Wires – Often found in unfinished expansions, attics and basement areas, exposed wires pose a variety of hazards and are a common issue. In order to be safe, all wires need to be protected by a junction box, as well as properly spliced and attached to structural features, in order to prevent damage or tripping hazards.
- Insufficient Electrical Service – While this issue is usually found most often in older homes, it’s not uncommon for a building inspector to determine that the existing capabilities of an electrical system are insufficient for typical household use. If lights dim when high-drain appliances are used, if fuses frequently blow or circuit breakers are often tripped, it can be a sign that the electrical demand is greater than the current system can provide.
- Outdated Wiring Systems – Almost exclusively found in older homes, outdated wiring systems can present a very real fire hazard. Due to the relatively high risk, professional building inspectors will take note of these outmoded power delivery systems.
- Do-It-Yourself Wiring – There are many home improvement projects homeowners can safely complete on their own, without incurring the expense of hiring professionals when they’re ready to upgrade their properties. Electrical wiring, however, does not fall into this category. One of the most common sources of electrical system related entries on building inspection reports are the reversed polarity, hanging wires and inadequately sized wiring which commonly accompany a DIY wiring job that doesn’t meet National Construction Code.
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