Electrical inspection services begin at the site of the electrical panels. The inspector should not only inspect the panel but also make observations about the location where this panel has been installed. Most of the time, there are no concerns at the location, but once in a while, the panel location may not have been thought out well before it was placed. After location, the next step of an electrical inspection service is to examine the size and manufacturer, as well as the condition of the cover and the presence of a legend. Most of the time the legend is correct, but once in a while it is not labeled, or labeled incorrectly.
Electrical Inspection Services: Wiring
Once the panel cover is reviewed and recorded, the inspector will remove the cover to review the wiring and breaker connections inside. Wire sizes will be evaluated to ensure they are not undersized for the breaker they are applied to. The inspector will note the sheathing around the wires, as cloth-covered wires are old and should be reviewed for replacement. Another thing an inspector should note is whether or not the wiring appears to have been installed professionally. A professional electrician is an artist with the wiring inside the electric panel. This point of connection is the location where the inspector reviews and the only place where their craft can be judged with unobstructed views. If the interior of the panel is messy, there is a good chance unskilled and/or undereducated hands have been inside. This should send up a flag for the inspector. If non-licensed people are working on electrical in the house, there is a really good chance shortcuts have been made. These potential shortcuts should be highlighted and reviewed further by a licensed electrician.
Electrical Inspection: Breakers
Breaker connections are evaluated in multiple ways. An inspector should touch these breakers inside the panel to check for a secure connection as well as surface temperatures. Breakers will get warm when in use. They will get warmer the more they are used at a single point in time, but if they get hot, that is a cause for alarm. This is an unusual occurrence, but it can happen.
The inspector is evaluating the wire connection to the breakers and the gauge of the wires used with reference to the capacity of the breakers. He or she is also ensuring there is only one wire inserted into an individual breaker. Any more wires than one are not approved as electrical arching can occur between them. In concurrence with the breaker observations, the inspector is also reviewing the metal bars in the rear of the panel space where these breakers are connected. These bars are referred to as the “Bus Bars”. The inspector will review these for metals used (aluminum or copper) as well as their general condition. If these bars overheat, they can warp and/or change color. High levels of heat will turn metal blue.
Ground Wire Electrical Inspection Services
Finally, the inspector reviews the local ground wire and connection. This connection will be found at the main shut-off location for the electric panel. If the main breaker is located on the exterior of the meter, this is where the ground wire and connection will be located. This ground wire is not always visible. In modern construction, the wall cavity where the panel is installed may have been enclosed and the wire and ground connection will not be visible. In this case, the inspector only needs to see the ground wire inside the electric panel and take it in good faith the ground wire was connected prior to being enclosed. As a testament, in all my years of inspecting electric panels, only one time did I find the ground wire was cut and disconnected.
Electric panels are a lot of various parts and connections that need to be reviewed by an experienced eye. An inspector is not an electrician, but he or she should be trained well enough to notice when something is not proper and recommend hiring a licensed electrician to review further.
Electrical Inspection Services with Octopus Home Inspections
If you’re looking for a reliable home inspector in Portland Oregon, be sure to contact our team. We take great pride in helping our customers and we are committed to upholding a strong code of ethics, including professionalism and integrity. Our home inspections are extremely thorough, fairly priced, detailed, and accurate. We look forward to hearing from you.
“Chris and his team at Octopus Home Inspections blew my mind when it came to the service and skill you receive from a home inspection. Chris and his team were specific and thorough with the overall inspection. More so, the way he delivered this information to us was in such a friendly and helpful way and it was like we were family and he was walking through my future home showing me little things that needed to be taken care of and reaffirming and empowering me take it on! I would recommend this team and specifically the owner, Chris, to anyone looking for a home inspection — I’ve already personally shared his info 4 times with friends who are buying and under contract since my inspection last week. Overall, absolute delight amongst the chaos of the home buying process!”
– Sarah (Google Review)