Whenever a home is being sold, it’s a common (and smart) practice for a prospective buyer to hire a qualified home inspector. Home inspectors can not only help assess a home or buildings condition but identify potential problems that may be factored into the terms of a sale or purchase price. In some cases buyers also engage the services of a licensed electrician to check and identify any electrical problems that a regular home inspector might miss. The most common problems we have seen that result in failed home inspections include the below …
Extension Cords in Permanent Use
Extension cords are to be used on a temporary basis for an external or remote power supply. If somebody is using extension cords on an everyday basis, that can only mean one thing: There aren’t enough outlets to handle all of the electrical devices the home or building uses today. This is more common in older homes, but it is a safety concern and it should always be corrected prior to a sale.
Improperly Wired Switches
This is a common problem electricians find when doing an inspection. People who try to do their own wiring or hire somebody who has only rudimentary electrical skills will often use reverse polarity when wiring a switch or an outlet. This happens when hot and neutral wires get “flipped” around, and doing this creates a shock hazard.
Missing or Faulty GFI Outlets
Faulty GFIs are a major issue even in newer homes in the Las Vegas / Henderson area due to the common use of cheap > lower quality materials. GFI (short for ground fault interrupter) outlets are what’s required wherever an electrical outlet is close to a source of water (like in a bathroom). The indicator of GFI failure is when they prematurely or frequently ‘trip’ resulting in the loss of power to localized electrical components (lights or other power supplies on the same circuit). GFI replacement is a relatively quick fix for a licensed electrician, and with higher quality components will result in several years of reliable use. It’s essential that GFIs are kept in good working order as their function is to protect you from the possibility of electrocution.
Double-Tapped / Lugged Breakers
This is when multiple wires are attached to a single breaker – a dangerous practice. As most circuit breakers are designed for single wires, this can cause loose connections, arcing, and potentially a fire. This is typically corrected by either the addition of additional breakers or in some cases where there are not load concerns, by wire nutting the connections together prior to the breaker panel.
It’s not unusual to find ungrounded electrical receptacles, especially in older homes. You can easily check if your own home’s outlets are grounded or not. Ungrounded outlets just have two slots to plug into, whereas grounded outlets have two slots plus a hole for the ground wire. It’s a good idea to have ungrounded receptacles upgraded to minimize risk of fire in the event that there is ever a fault with the electrical component using the circuit.
Obstructed Drip Loop
A drip loop is what keeps water from entering a structure through wiring inlets. Obviously water trapped inside walls and electrical conduit can cause major problems and broken or missing drip loops should be repaired or replaced immediately.
Improperly Buried Wire
Wire that runs underground must be installed correctly to protect them from the elements, rodents, and accidental breakage. In many cases unlicensed electricians will bury electrical circuits at the improper depth or without the proper / specialized conduits that must be used to ensure safety and reliability.
Service Panel Problems
During the course of a routine electrical inspection, it’s all too common to find several problems within a home’s service panel itself. Penny Electric’s electricians find things like incorrect wiring diagrams, breaker problems and visible damage. We can’t stress enough the importance of having an electrical panel that’s both large enough to accommodate a home’s electrical needs, and that the panel be in good working order.
Trees or Bushes Leaning on Exterior Power Lines
Trees and shrubs should never be touching electrical wires! If a tree branch is heavy enough and falls on wires during a wind gust, it could potentially break the power cable or its connection point, creating a shock hazard or fire risk.
All electrical switches, receptacles and junction boxes should be covered for safety, especially in a home with children and / or pets. The covers are there to protect the wiring and to protect you and your family from coming in contact with live circuits resulting in the potential of a bad electrical shock.
Missing Smoke Alarms
For safety’s sake, there should be a smoke alarm on every floor of your home. In addition, smoke alarms should also be located just outside of each bedroom. Its recommended to test or change the batteries in your smoke alarm every year, and replace smoke alarm units every 10 years.
You don’t have to be in the process of buying a new home to make an electrical inspection worthwhile. If you suspect any of the above may be problem, don’t wait and give the professional licensed electricians at Penny Electric a call at 702-279-6040 to schedule repairs or request a comprehensive electrical inspection. You’ll sleep easier knowing that your home’s electrical system is safe!