Common Electrical Hazards During Home Inspections
Faulty electrical wiring and electrical hazards in homes are much more common than you think. Before anyone buys or sells a home, a thorough home electrical inspection is needed. Although it’s best to have a fully qualified professional conduct home electrical inspections, knowing which electrical items commonly fail electrical codes will help you evaluate your current or future home.
Here are a few of the most common wiring hazards found in electrical inspections:
Extension Cords Galore
Extension cords are meant to be temporary. Running extension cords from room to room not only raises the risk of wiring damage and corrosion, but also places unwanted burden on your electrical outlets and could overload your electrical system, leading to a fire. These exposed extension cords are a common code violation.
- Only buy UL-listed extension cords.
- Only use extension cords outdoors if they are rated for outdoor use.
- Never run cords under rugs, carpet, or in high-traffic areas.
- Inspect your extension cords for damage before use.
- If you find yourself using extension cords for long periods of time, consider adding an extra outlet or two so you don’t have to.
- Never affix extension cords to walls, ceilings, or buildings.
- Do not use extension cords for major appliances.
- Additional circuits, wiring, and outlets should be installed by a licensed, professional electrician.
Any exposed wires are susceptible to damage. Never subject wiring to environmental damage or physical impact.
Homeowner Tip: Worn and outdated wiring is a common code violation. Homes built between 1900 and 1950 often have outdated wiring, fuses, and breaker boxes that are inadequate to handle modern electrical loads. Hire a professional electrician to fix all electrical wiring problems.
Open Splice Wires
An open splice wire is a wire joined by electrical tape or wire connectors. This is a common DIY job and occurs most often in garages, attics and crawlspaces.
Homeowner Tip: These connections should be corrected as soon as possible by a licensed electrician.
Improper and Undersized Wiring
For home electrical inspections, this is the main problem. Improper wiring includes aluminum wiring, improper grounding and fault protection, as well as dangerous DIY electrical wiring connections, as mentioned above. Undersized wiring includes inadequate overload and surge protection and results in frequently tripped breakers and fuses.
Homeowner Tip: DIY electrical projects
GFCI Ground Fault Protection
Before 1971, GFCI outlets were only required for bathrooms and construction sites, however, since then, the code has expanded to require GFCI protection in many other areas of the home.
Homeowner Tip: Inspect the following areas for GFCI protection to ensure your home is up to code: bathrooms, kitchens, commercial areas, outdoor outlets, agricultural buildings, commercial garages, fountains, marinas/boatyards, temporary installations, near sinks, and all indoor and outdoor wet locations. See the changes to the 2011 GFCI NEC electrical code here.
All of the above hazards can pose a serious risk to your home and life if not addressed promptly by a professional. To make sure that you entire electrical system is up to code, there are many resources that you can turn to, however, the best one would probably be the NEC (National Electrical Code) website and Illustrated Handbook.
Call Mainstream Electric in Spokane and North Idaho at for the following professional electrical services:
- Troubleshooting & Repair
- Fuses/Breakers/ARC-Fault Breakers
- Lighting & Switches
- Home Safety Check
- Code Correction Repairs
- and much more!
For more frequent electrical code violations, check out Joseph Fratello’s 9 Common Wiring Mistakes and Code Violations for Fine Homebuilding.
Despite the fact that most DIY electrical projects violate the National Electrical Code, there are in fact some easy electrical projects you can DIY – check out these 5 Simple Electrical Repairs for your home!
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