Electrical systems age and deteriorate just like any man-made product, and as they get older need to be monitored more frequently. As homes grow in their dependence on electricity with the addition of rooms, appliances large and small, and entertainment and computer equipment, electrical systems designed to handle lower electrical demands expected at an earlier point in time can become overburdened and problems can develop. The CPSC and ESFI recommend electrical inspections for the following:
- Any house more than 40 years old,
- Any house 10 years old and older that has had any major renovation or major appliance added, and
- For any home at the time of resale, by the new owner who can then begin their relationship with the new home with a clear understanding of the home's electrical system's capacity, limitations, potential hazards and opportunities.
Electrical Inspection Versus Home Inspection
An "electrical inspection" is different from a "home inspection" in that it comprehensively covers only the electrical system, whereas the home inspection goes skin-deep on the structure, plumbing, electrical system and other aspects of the house. Your local city, county or state should have an electrical inspector's office, or a qualified, licensed electrician can do the inspection.
The inspection will help identify problems like frequently blowing fuses or tripping circuit breakers, loose connections at outlets, older and deteriorated wiring, and outdated and overburdened electrical service. Repairs could be minor and nominal in cost, such as the cleaning and tightening of connections or the addition of outlets, or more involved running into several thousand dollars, such as the addition of circuits and subpanels, replacement of degraded wiring, or, particularly with older homes, a "heavy-up" - that is, upgrading the electrical service from, for example, 60 amp or 100 amp service to the home to 200 amp service better able to handle today's electric demands. A qualified, licensed electrician can determine if repairs or upgrades are necessary and can estimate the cost.