Prospective homebuyers are very particular when looking at new homes. They want structures that are undamaged, show no signs of deterioration; and want to be sure that all the fittings and fixtures are in a state of good repair. This holds true for electrical installations and systems as well.
They briefly look at the main electrical panel, check the power points and flip light switches as they walk through the property; and if everything seems okay at a cursory glance they assume the system is fine. But these random and fleeting checks aren’t enough to ascertain whether the electrical installations are in a good condition. It’s important to get an expert, licensed electrician to come in for detailed electrical inspection in older properties.
HOW OFTEN IS AN ELECTRICAL INSPECTION REQUIRED?
Every property’s electrical system will age over time just like the rest of the features such as roofing, plumbing a, heating and air-conditioning. These features can throw unexpected problems and issues, and so can the home’s electrical system. If the property is over a decade old, the electrical systems can deteriorate significantly and certain components such as smoke detectors and thermostats etc. can expire as well.
Other fixtures like power points, plug points, and switches can wear out and lose retention while GFCI outlets may become dysfunctional when you need them most. Some of the electrical components that can become affected in older homes are:
Service panel connections
Over a period of time, wiring that connects to the circuit breakers in the main electrical panel can loosen and result in arcing. This is because of the contraction and expansion of the wires as they cool and heat-up with regular use. This creates intermittent power problems as well as flickering lights on the property. The electrician will inspect and tighten all the circuit breaker connections in the main electrical panel.
Expired smoke detectors
Sensors that makes smoke detectors sensitive to the smoke particles in case there is a fire can become contaminated by oxidation & dust over time. Smoke detectors need to be checked annually for proper functioning and must be replaced every 10 years. The date of manufacture will be mentioned on the back panel of the smoke detectors and it is important that you make note of this and change the device once it has expired.
These need to be regularly inspected for proper operation. They are very sensitive to various electrical faults. GFCI outlets are safety components that help protect you from electrocution in situations such as when water comes in contact with electrical systems especially outdoors. The devices need to be inspected regularly and replaced as required.
Arc fault breakers
These features are located in the main electrical panel and need to be checked for proper functioning. For instance, if you are banging a nail into a wall and it accidentally penetrates wiring concealed in the wall, it can result in arcing which in turn can potentially lead to a fire. An arc fault breaker is a sensitive device that is designed to detect these faults; its sensitive mechanism also makes it more prone to mechanical failure and would have to be checked with regularity.
It’s a good idea to get an annual electrical maintenance check done on your property and a thorough one can be done once in ten years, depending on the age of the electrical wiring.