Do You Need an Electrical Inspection?

by Hannah Stephens
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Electrical issues cause a whopping 51,000 house fires every year in the United States, but there are things you can do to keep your home and family safe.

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Scheduling an electrical inspection can help diagnose and fix problems before they cause a fire.

What Is an Electrical Inspection, and When Are They Typically Done?

An electrical inspection involves checking various elements of your home's electrical system to ensure they're safe and functioning correctly. Generally, this includes checking the wiring and whether your outlets and fixtures work. Your inspector will verify that appliances in damp areas, such as laundry rooms and bathrooms, have GFCI outlets.

Most electrical inspections also include a main panel check. The inspector will ensure that all the circuit breakers work and have clear labels. They'll also check whether certain appliances have their own dedicated circuits and suitable grounding.

You don't need a specific reason to schedule an electrical inspection — some homeowners hire an electrical inspector regularly to ensure their systems are safe. Your electrical inspector can alert you to any potential fire hazards and code violations. Alternatively, you may get an electrical inspection alongside a general home inspection before purchasing a house or after new electrical installations or upgrades.

Regular residential electrical inspections differ from building electrical inspections because the latter is more thorough. During a building electrical inspection, an inspector checks whether your system meets local building codes and the National Electric Code and provides a more detailed report.

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Who Performs an Electrical Inspection?

A qualified electrical inspector usually carries out a home electrical inspection, although some experienced electricians also offer this service. Ideally, you should hire a professional with a Certified Electrical Inspector (CEI) license.

Meanwhile, a building electrical inspection requires in-depth knowledge of local building regulations. Therefore, you'll generally need a local building code enforcement agent to perform the checks.

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What Types of Things May Fail an Electrical Inspection?

Your home may fail its electrical inspection if the inspector detects a fire hazard or your system doesn't comply with the National Electric Code or local codes. Your electrical inspector can provide a report on their findings, which usually includes instructions for correcting any issues. Common problems that can cause your house to fail its inspection include the following:

  • Damaged, exposed or spliced wires
  • Incorrect wiring
  • Ungrounded outlets
  • Plants touching power lines
  • Faulty or outdated electrical panel or circuit breakers
  • Lack of GFCI outlets in wet areas

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