Two minute home inspection : electrical
Ok, you can’t do a home inspection in 2 minutes. A home inspection generally takes 2-4 hours and we always recommend using a home inspector who is licensed by the State of Washington and a member of a national home inspection organization like ASHI or NACHI.
Here’s another guest post by Chip Roberson, of Mission Home and Pest Inspection:
When looking at a property you are considering calling your new home, take two minutes to get a general idea about the electrical system.
As you are looking at the outside of the property, observe how the electrical service is provided to the house. The electrical service refers to the wires that enter the house either overhead, known as service drop, or underground, which is known as a service lateral. When observing the service drop look for possible concerns such as service wiring running through trees, worn insulation, hazardous ground to service wire clearances, stressed or leaning attachment to the house, missing drip loop at weather head and even disconnected wiring. Modern electrical services will have 3 service wires which will provide 120/240 volts. Some older homes may only have 2 wires servicing the house which will provide only 120 volts. This would be considered out of date by today’s standards because larger appliances that operate at 240 volts, such as furnaces, water heaters and ranges cannot be utilized. The wiring in service laterals are not visible, these electrical services are 120/240 volts and is considered up to today’s standards.
After observing the service entrance, find the bare copper conductor that is attached to a grounding electrode such as metallic water piping, driven ground rods and/or rebar encased in the concrete foundation. This conductor and connection should be visible and intact. All main electrical service panels need to be properly grounded. Some are not.
Some homes over 25 years old may have a main service panel or other distribution panel that may not be reliable, meaning that the breakers may not trip when an over load or direct short is occurring. This can cause injury, death or property damage. Some commonly known panels that fall into this category are Federal Pacific (FPE) and Zinsco.
Interested in more articles by Chip Roberson?
Click here to read the first in the series