Posted on: 28 April 2015
When buying an old home, you should always engage a licensed electrician to perform an inspection before you commit. This can protect you and your family from potential electrical hazards as well as extensive repair projects. But before you schedule your electrician's visit, there are a few points you can easily check to see whether the home will disqualify immediately or whether it's worth a full inspection. These five signs are details you can easily note (often visually) while walking through the house.
1. Fuse box
A fuse box, especially an old one, is a big red flag. The combination of an old house and a fuse box often means that the wiring is inadequate and old. Electrical systems that use fuses are often several decades old and were designed to carry much less electricity than today's average household uses. In fact, some old wiring systems are so unpredictable that they can make it difficult to insure the house. And replacing the wiring can cost you thousands, so consider carefully whether your budget can handle this.
3. Light switch or lighting problems
Light switches that are too close to a source of water are a bad sign. Likewise, a switch that is off in appearance (has black stains, hangs loose, or appears damaged) may require repair or replacement at the very least. At most, it could signal a dangerous electrical problem. Any sounds a light switch or fixture may be making (apart from the humming of lit bulbs such as fluorescents) are usually a very bad sign and require an electrician's attention. The same goes for outlets that make sounds.
4. Faulty outlets
In addition to sounds, check for outlets that are warm to the touch or emit black smoke. In either of these cases, you can assume that a hazardous condition most likely exists. Using faulty outlets can lead to serious electrical shock.
5. Too few GFCIs
GFCIs should be present in any area where outlets exist near a source of water. All outdoor outlets are included in this category, in addition to bathroom and kitchen outlets. Other areas you may find in the house that need GFCIs include garages, unfinished basements, crawl spaces, and utility rooms. The GFCI can act as an emergency shut-off if it perceives too much electricity is being used, so it's a very important safety precaution. The good news is that if you need more GFCIs, they're relatively inexpensive to acquire.
If you find any of these red flags in the house you're thinking of buying, consider the potential hazards and expenses they present. If you determine that you can afford to repair or replace the faulty electrical components, go ahead and schedule a full electrical inspection with your electrician. It's always a good idea to get your opinion backed by a professional before closing on the house. And remember, the full report from an inspection combines expert authority with objective facts to give you the best possible electrical advice on what may turn out to be your dream house!Share