Your Guide to an Electrical Inspection
The electrical service to the house consists of the main electric panel and the feeder wires coming into the house from the electric utility provider.
Electrical Inspection: Visual Inspection
The visual inspection considers the manufacturer, wire connections, type of wires in the electric panel, the breakers, and the grounding. These observations are all made inside the electric panel once the cover is removed, but the feed wires from the utility provider are reviewed from the exterior before they meet the meter, if they were run to the house above ground.
Upon opening the cover initially, the inspector is to evaluate the manufacturer. There are a couple of electricpanels in the past that were approved for use, manufactured, and installed, but over time, their connections became unreliable, and in turn, are red-flagged as a potential fire hazard when recognized. There are other electric panel manufacturers who closed their doors, and their products are no longer being made. This means if a breaker on these older electric panels fails, there are no more components available to replace them. This is a time when a homeowner should hire a licensed electrician to replace the panel altogether with a modern unit that follows modern safety protocols.
Electrical Inspection: Interior
Once the initial observations are complete with the cover in place, the cover will be removed so the interior wiring, wiring connections, breakers, grounding connection, and an overall verification of the interior of the electric panel can be made. At this point, we are ensuring the proper wire gauge is connected to the existing breaker. If the breaker is oversized for the wiring applied, this could result in a fire because the breaker may not trip when too much electricity is called for through an undersized conductor (wire). This would result in a recommendation to replace the breaker with a properly sized unit for the wiring applied.
The breakers are reviewed for secure connections to the bus bars, as well as for temperatures of the breakers. If the breakers are hot, this could indicate a problem that needs to be further reviewed by a licensed electrician. Behind the breakers are two vertical bars known as bus bars. These solid metal bars are what the breaker is connected to, to provide an electrical current from the electric panel out to the receptacles inside the house. These bars will discolor if they are exposed to high heat. The heat is accumulated if the breaker or bus bars are operated at or possibly beyond their intended capabilities. If this is observed, it will be recommended for an electrician to review the system further and make repairs as needed for the specific situation.
Proper grounding of the electric panel will also be reviewed. The electric provider has a ground leg that is brought to the electric meter from the exterior service wires and panel as well as a localized ground wire that will be taken from inside the electric panel to a metal rod or probe that is inserted into the earth. The intention of the ground wires is to be the path of least resistance for the path of electricity should a connection fail or improper practices were used.
More often than not, the electric panels are in proper operating condition, but it is the inspector’s job to notice any irregularities that may have been added to the panel by an unlicensed individual. If these irregularities are observed, the only course of action is to get a licensed electrician involved for repairs.
Electrical Safety Inspection with Octopus Home Inspections
At Octopus Home Inspections, 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 strive to be a home inspection company that you can trust completely, knowing we have your safety and wellbeing in mind. If you’re looking for a home inspector you can trust in Portland, Oregon, contact us here.
“Octopus home inspection is the best inspection company I’ve used to date. Very thorough, knowledgeable, and they gave much insight to the problems we faced during our inspection. I am in the construction trades myself and found octopus to be a hands-down good decision due to the professionalism and deep knowledge base. If they have a time slot open, TAKE IT!!”
– Matt (Yelp Review)