Electricity Kills

The primary responsibility for a home inspector, when evaluating electrical systems in the home, is the safety of himself and his clients, both at the time of inspection and after they move into the property.

This is also one of the few areas which most home inspectors would cite as “deficient” — systems that were acceptable when the home was built, but would now be considered sub-standard. A lack of GFCIs, for example, would fall into this category.

Primary Safety

The home inspector should be especially cautious when evaluating the service panels, as these are among the few components that we remove access panels from, exposing the live components within.

An inspector is required to: *Observe and Report (O&R) **Perform Task (PT)

  • Service entrance cable and location and integrity of the insulation, drip loop, or separation of conductors at weatherheads and clearances from grade or rooftops.*(O&R)
  • Main service panel, auxiliary panels and location. *(O&R)
  • The means for disconnecting the service main. *(O&R)
  • Panel over current protection and system grounding. *(O&R)
  • Branch circuit wiring and related over current protection. *(O&R)
  • Report on any unused circuit breaker panel openings that are not filled. *(O&R)
  • Amperage and voltage ratings of the main service panel. *(O&R)
  • A representative number of switches, receptacles, lighting fixtures, AFCI receptacles. *(O&R)
  • Test all Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles and GFCI circuit breakers observed and deemed to be GFCI’S during the inspection using a GFCI tester. **(PT)
  • Outlets noted above are to be checked for polarity and grounding. **(PT)
  • All exterior outlets and those within five feet of plumbing fixtures will be checked for polarity, grounding and ground fault circuit protection. **(PT)
  • Report the absence of smoke detectors. *(O&R)
  • Report the presence of solid conductor, aluminum branch circuit wiring if readily visible. *(O&R)

An inspector is not required to: * Observe and Report (O&R) **Perform Tasks (PT)

  • Insert any tool, probe or device into the main panel board, sub-panels, distribution panel boards, or electrical fixtures. *(O&R)
  • Secondary wiring systems such as low voltage wiring, telephone wiring, cable television wiring, etc. *(O&R)
  • Any components not related to the primary electrical systems such as security systems, swimming pool wiring and time-control devices. *(O&R)
  • Inspect private or emergency electrical supply sources, including but not limited to generators, windmills, solar panels, or battery or electrical storage facilities. *(O&R)
  • Provide or remove power for equipment. *(O&R)
  • Provide or remove power for equipment. *(O&R)
  • Inspect or test de-icing equipment. *(O&R)
  • Conduct voltage drops calculations. *(O&R)
  • Determine the accuracy of labeling. *(O&R)
  • Verify the service ground. *(O&R)
  • Test the operation of smoke detectors. **(PT)
  • Dismantle, remove, adjust, or perform any task on any electrical equipment that would require a qualified trades-person to perform. **(PT)
  • Insert or remove fuses, or operate circuit breakers. **(PT)

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