What is an electrical inspection?

Your electrical system is working for you every season. Holiday lights during the winter, air conditioning during summer, you need to maintain it to keep it operating. The term electrical inspection has two different meanings, depending on the type of inspection you get and who performs the inspection. 

During a home electrical inspection, a certified home inspector will perform basic checks of the home’s electrical system and notate any concerns. A building electrical inspection is more in-depth and is typically performed by a local building code enforcement agent or a professional electrician. In these inspections, you’ll get a much more comprehensive report regarding the electrical components and systems throughout a home. 

There are some differences between home and building electrical inspections, so let’s take a closer look.

Electrical home inspections

A home inspector will look at the essential elements of the home’s electrical system, including wiring, GFCI outlets, and the main electrical panel. The inspector will check to confirm that all outlets, fixtures, and appliances are working and that everything appears to be wired correctly. They will also look at the main panel to verify that each circuit breaker is clearly labeled and in good working order. 

They will also confirm that outlets in the kitchen and bathrooms have the appropriate dedicated circuit for appliances and the proper grounding to prevent electrical shock in case an outlet gets wet. The electrical review process involves the home inspector checking each outlet using a tester and looking carefully at the home’s main panel. They will also look closely at the wiring in the attic and anywhere it’s visible just to confirm that everything is wired and connected safely and then write down any areas of concern in the inspection report. 

Electrical building inspections

During an electrical building inspection, a certified building inspector will carefully examine the home’s electrical systems to confirm that everything is currently up to code. These inspectors are usually employees of the local city or county and have the power to grant or deny electrical permits. 

The purpose of these inspections is to confirm that new builds and existing construction are up to the current electrical code compliance to remain safe for occupation. Hiring a building electrical inspector will give you peace of mind if you’re building a home, and they can also inspect remodels and other additions whenever electricity is involved. If something is not up to code, they will require an electrician to correct the issue before the inspection will “pass.” 

Why electrical inspections are important

Prevention is the best medicine, and prevention is also the best way to prevent a house fire or electrical shock. An electrical inspection is a prevention. A qualified electrician can provide ease of mind by providing a complete electrical inspection before it’s loo late. 

The number one cause of house fires is bad electrical wiring. An electrical inspection can help you address the root causes of bad wiring like overloaded systems, power surges, bad installation or repairs, and DIY projects. 

It is recommended that you get a full electrical inspection every 10 years, if not 5-7. 

What does a home inspector look for during an electrical inspection?

Here are some things that a home inspector will look for during the electrical portion of the inspection:

  • The home inspector will look at the home’s service panel to confirm that there are no loose breakers or any signs of damage. They will also look for charring or burn marks and ensure that all breakers are clearly labeled.
  • Wiring will be inspected to confirm that it is not older knob-and-tube wiring or is not made of aluminum. Most aluminum wire is 40 years or older and should be updated to copper to prevent a potential fire hazard. Some home insurance companies won’t insure a property with aluminum wire.
  • The inspector will look at any “push-in connections” at outlets to ensure they’re installed correctly. These connections make less contact with wires than traditional receptacles, which could lead to wire damage or even a possible fire later.
  • Every room with water should have GFCI protection, typically including the kitchen, all bathrooms, and the laundry room. These ground fault circuit interrupters are essential to prevent an electrical short or electrical shock. The home inspector checks these outlets to confirm they’re in good working order. 

What does a building inspector look for during an electrical inspection? 

A building inspector’s job is to ensure that all electrical components are up to code, and they will look for:

  • The building inspector will remove the cover to the service panel and ensure all circuit breakers are securely in place. They will also look for loose wires and confirm that the wires are the correct gauge for the breakers. They also confirm that the main breaker is the correct size, which should typically be higher than 100 amps.
  • All outlets or receptacles are checked using a multimeter or probe. The building inspector will confirm that every outlet is attached to a ground wire and producing the correct voltage.
  • All light switches, fixtures, appliances, and receptacles will be tested to confirm they are working.
  • The presence of GFCIs and any AFCIs (arc fault circuit interrupters) will be confirmed where they are required per the current code.
  • The type of wiring in the home will be checked and all connections confirmed. You should repair any loose or exposed wire and replace any aluminum or knob-and-tube wiring.
  • Many homes built between 1950 and 1990 have Federal Pacific breaker panels. These panels are often defective, so the building inspector may require them to be replaced before passing the inspection. 

Average cost of an electrical inspection

So, how much does an electrical inspection cost? If it’s part of a whole home inspection, it will be included in the total cost, typically between $300 and $500 on average. A standard building electrical inspection typically costs somewhere in a similar price range or even less, coming in at closer to $200 on average. 

This cost can vary depending on several factors, including how large the home is, the current demand for inspectors, and if you need to pay for permits in addition to the inspection. 

Average cost of electrical repairs

Once a residential home inspection is complete, there may be some things that need to be repaired. Here are some of the most common types of electrical repairs and their average cost.

  • If an electrical panel needs to be replaced or upgraded, it can cost approximately $1,180 or more. This is usually the most expensive electrical repair that most homeowners will pay.
  • Installing a new or replacing an old outlet typically costs $200-$210 per outlet.
  • Broken light fixtures typically cost $200 each to repair.
  • Replacing a switch is another common electrical repair, but you can usually correct this minor issue for around $150.
  • Installing new wiring can also be expensive, especially if it needs to be done throughout the entire home. Prepare to pay around $1,400 or more for all-new wiring.

Getting an electrical inspection can help keep your home safe and give you peace of mind. If you’re planning to sell your home, it can’t hurt to hire an electrical inspector before your property goes up for sale. If you’re a home inspector who needs reliable software for your business, check out all of the features available at Inspection Support Network today.