Electrical fires continue to be a major cause of house fires in the United States. These fires cause significant property damage and take hundreds of lives. Electrical inspections are an important safety precaution when purchasing a new home or if any of the following conditions are true:
- You live in a home older than 40 years
- You’ve done major renovations in your home
- You’ve added a major appliance to your home
If you’re ready to schedule a residential electrical inspection in Philadelphia, PA, here’s a brief overview of the most commonly examined components of the electrical system:
- Circuit breakers. Electricians refer to these as service panels. Inspectors examine these boxes closely. They remove the cover and confirm that nothing inside is buzzing or running hot. They look for loose wires and verify that the right gauge wire was used. They also examine the main breaker to make sure it is the right amperage for the home.
- Receptacles. Your home is full of receptacles, but you probably call them outlets. Inspectors use a handheld multimeter to test the voltage and ground wire for each outlet.
- Switches and fixtures. Inspectors test switches and fixtures, checking to make sure they function safely.
- GFCIs and AFCIs. These outlets are important safety features in your electrical system. These are the outlets that have the small red push button on them. These outlets contain circuit interrupters that will interrupt the current to the outlet when an electric arc is detected. Inspectors verify that these outlets are present in the required location in the home and that they function as designed.
- Wiring. Electrical inspectors examine the visible wiring in the home. They identify the type of wiring used – aluminum, copper, or knot and tube—and look for loose or exposed wires. They may make certain recommendations for upgrades or repairs in the home based on what they find.
What Do You Need to Fix?
To be safe, any electrical issue identified in an inspection needs to be fixed. That said, some issues are more critical than others, including the following:
- Faulty wiring
- Absent or malfunctioning GFCIs
- Aluminum wiring. Aluminum was used in older homes, but is susceptible to corrosion. Retrofitting a dielectric wire nut onto copper/aluminum connections stops corrosion.
- Loose receptacles. This happens when contacts in the outlet wear out and no longer grip prongs firmly. Loose contacts are dangerous; they cause arcing, and are a fire hazard. New receptacles are inexpensive and easy to install.
When in doubt, talk to a professional electrical inspector. They’ll educate you on the electrical issues in your home and help you set priorities for making the repairs necessary to keep your home and family safe.