Do an Electrical Inspection Before You Buy a Home

An electrician greeting a homeowner

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Before you buy a home, you—or a professional—should inspect the electrical installation and its components. You could have the county or city inspector take a look, or you could find an electrical contractor to help you with the task. However you do it, make sure that the home is up to date and safety standards as required by the National Electrical Code.

You should have an electrical service that is large enough to supply the home and have room for future expansion. The wiring should be grounded and in good working order. The switches and outlets should be inspected to ensure they are in good working order and of the right type. Here are some of the electrical components of the electrical system that should be inspected.

Receptacles

The receptacles, often called outlets, should be inspected to make sure that they have a ground, don't have any cracks or physical defects, that they have the proper tension to hold in a cord that is plugged into them, and that they are the proper type for the area. Specific areas to watch are bathrooms, kitchens, basements, garages, and outdoor outlets. Any of these areas could be wet or damp and are required to have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) installed. Kitchens require many special outlets and circuits to supply the vast number of kitchen appliances in them.

Common Mistakes

There are plenty of common electrical mistakes that people make, and you may be wondering if the old wiring is safe or whether your home has aluminum wiring. Check for incorrect electrical wiring and signs that a previous owner overloaded a circuit.

Service Panel

To examine the electrical system even further, you can perform a service panel checklist examination. It will take some time to do all of this, but it is well worth the effort. After all, you wouldn't buy a sinking ship with holes in it, and you shouldn't buy a faulty home either. If you know the defects ahead of time and negotiate the price to offset the faults, you may get the home of your dreams at a price that you can afford!

Wiring Lifespan

Electrical wiring has a certain safe lifespan, and standards have changed over the years—knob and tube wiring was state of the art in its day, but it's now outdated. Just like the electrical switches and outlets wear out and need to be replaced from time to time, the wiring should be updated when necessary.

Future Expansion

The home's electrical service should be large enough for the current size of the house, with room to spare. Even if you are not planning an addition now, it is safer to have some breathing room.

Be sure to check the lighting for safety as well. Look in areas like basements, hallways, staircases, and garages—these areas should have sufficient lighting to ensure safety while passing through each. Also check outdoor lighting to see if the lighting is sufficient to enter and enter your home.