What’s the most important thing to know about home inspections? They’re all about safety. Yes, the inspector is going to examine the house from top to bottom, assess its overall condition, and alert the buyer to any potential issues. That’s all true and important. But far and away, the most critical question the inspector tries to answer is this one: Is this home safe?
With that in mind, it shouldn’t surprise you that the electrical system will be a significant focus during the inspection of your home prior to closing. Problems with electrical systems are the 4th leading cause of residential fires in the United States; making sure your home’s electrical system is safe and up to code is something your potential buyer wants to know. And, if your home is over 40 years old, has had a major renovation, or you’ve installed big new appliances, you can expect electrical issues to get extra attention.
What Do Inspectors Look at?
No two inspections are ever exactly alike, but in general terms, you can expect a residential electrical inspection in Philadelphia, PA, to include examination of the following:
- Service panels, subpanels, circuit breakers, or fuse boxes. Inspectors look inside to make certain nothing is humming or hot. They also check for loose wires, wires that are the wrong gauge, and main breakers that are the wrong size.
- Outlets: Inspectors use a multimeter to check outlets, voltage, and ground wires.
- Light switches and fixtures: Inspectors test switches and fixtures to make sure they function properly and safely.
- GFCI circuits and AFCIs: Inspectors will note the absence of GFCIs and AFCIs, safety features that interrupt the circuit an electric arc is detected, and protect from fire or electrocution.
- Wiring: Inspectors take a look at exposed wiring (not hidden in walls) and identify the type and quality of the wiring
What Types of Problems Do Inspectors Commonly Find?
Your electrical system is complicated, and it’s not uncommon for inspectors to uncover problems. Some of the most common issues found during inspections include the following:
- Exposed wiring and splices
- Ungrounded three-prong plugs
- Painted outlets
- Reversed polarity in outlets
- Improperly modified electrical panels
- No GFCI protection
What Fixes Will You Be Required to Make Prior to Closing?
The truth is, everything is negotiable. However, if safety is an issue, you’re very likely to be on the hook for repairs. Here are some issues you should be prepared to address:
- Faulty wiring
- Missing GCFIs
- Other significant safety issues
The Bottom Line
A good strategy is to address known issues with your electrical system prior to listing your home. The fewer red flags that show up during the inspection, the smoother the sale process will be.