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The Electrical System: Keeps Lights and Appliances Running

A home’s electrical system is complex, and a home inspector will always review the point where a power line connects to a property on the outside before moving indoors to examine other components of the system. Indoors, a home’s electrical panel or box contains the major switches that control and route power throughout a property. Depending on the home’s age, a panel can contain circuit breakers or fuses and is generally configured to carry a certain load of electrical energy. An inspector will review whether the panel appears to be in a safe, operable condition for your region and whether it has sufficient energy for the appliances and energy consumption typical of a modern home. A panel that doesn’t carry sufficient voltage may cause functionality issues in the home – such as blown fuses. Most homes that have conventional or government-guaranteed financing should have a minimum of 100 amp service, rather than the 60 amp service that was the standard earlier in the twentieth century. Insurers may also adjust rates based on the service configuration in a home, with the assumption that higher service creates less risk of electrical fires.

An inspector will examine lighting throughout the house – both indoor and outdoor. Do the light switches and the doorbell work? Have ceiling lamps and outdoor lamps been installed properly? In addition, the inspector will examine whether plugs are properly grounded and whether appliances – especially major energy users like the stove, fridge, or washer/dryer – are functioning properly.

If the home has electrical heat or electrically-driven air conditioning, the inspector will examine that component of the electrical system. In addition, he or she will look at electrical wiring to make sure the wires aren’t showing signs of cracking or aging that could spark fires or not properly conduct power.