All of our homes are run by an invisible power that most of us take for granted: electricity. It’s easy to forget that it’s there. The different parts of it – wiring, panels, and circuits – are things that we don’t see every day. So how do you know if electrical issues are brewing behind the wall?
What is an electrical inspection and why do I need it?
An electrical inspection is when a licensed electrician comes to your home and makes sure that every part of your electrical system is working correctly. Issues can go unnoticed for months or even years unless the system is inspected. Electricity is incredibly useful, but it’s also very powerful and dangerous. The inspection is important because it could save your home and maybe even your life.
When should I get my electrical system inspected?
Most of us get an annual physical whether we feel sick or not so that health issues can be caught early. Your electrical system needs the same attention – a once-a-year checkup. You need to get your electrical system inspected and maintained frequently to prevent unexpected issues.
You definitely should get a yearly inspection if your home is 50 years old or older. The aging technology in old homes can cause major problems in the electrical system. Many of these problems bring a risk of fire with them. That’s not something that anyone wants to happen!
The Bad News: Old homes often have outdated electrical panels, such as FPE panels. These old panels have problems like not being able to handle the voltage load or not tripping breakers when there’s a problem. These are serious hazards! Panels are designed to shut down the electricity if there is a problem. If this isn’t working, there is a high risk for fire or electrocution.
If you’re concerned about your panel, call a licensed electrician or visit ismypanelsafe.com.
Homes built between 1970 and 1976 have another issue: they have aluminum wiring. As it gets older, aluminum wiring expands and contracts. This creates loose connections. Loose connections lead to heat and heat, unfortunately, leads to fire. If your home was built in this time period, you don’t need to panic. Just have your electrical system inspected annually to catch any issues before they become serious. You may also want to start saving to have the aluminum wiring replaced with copper.
What does an electrical inspection include?
An electrical inspection may vary slightly by the company providing it. TLC’s licensed electricians will inspect every aspect of your electrical system from outlets to panels to smoke detectors and more. The most common issues found are:
If a breaker is hot, it’s an indication that the voltage load is too much for it. This is something your electrician wants to find and fix before it becomes an emergency.
A hot outlet is the same root issue as the breaker being hot. Again, this is something you want to get repaired right away.
GFCI outlets are not working or are not installed
A GFCI outlet is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. That’s a fancy title for an outlet that shuts off electrical flow when it comes in contact with water. Water and electricity are a deadly combination. GFCI outlets are important to your safety. They need to be installed in kitchens, bathrooms, garages, outside and any other place that’s around water. If GFCIs aren’t working or you don’t have any, you need to get them replaced.
Original panels in old homes
If you have an old panel that cannot handle the electrical load or isn’t shutting off breakers when it can’t handle the electrical demand, it needs to be replaced.
A smoke detector isn’t just the alarm that lets you know you turned the toaster on too high. It is a life-saving device that can keep you and your family from harm. These need to be replaced every 10 years, but it’s a good idea to inspect them annually as well. A malfunction could be deadly.
What’s the bottom line: An annual electrical inspection gives you the peace of mind to not worry about any unseen electrical problems. By getting an inspection, you can avoid any surprises that a major electrical problem can bring. Schedule your electrical inspection today!
If you are a TLC Preventive Maintenance member, your annual electrical inspection is included in your membership.