Homeowners are advised to call an electrician periodically for electrical safety inspections. Individually-owned homes are mandated to undergo an inspection every 10 years, while rental properties need to be checked every five. The intervals may be even smaller for properties at least 40 years old.
But just what do electricians do during this procedure? Typically, they do four things.
- They check the electric meter for possible defects.
It’s not simply a matter of ensuring the meter is logging the correct amount of wattage. Electricians also see if the meter is properly installed, or of its mechanisms have become defective through wear and tear. They especially keep on the lookout for rust or other signs of water damage – water can seep from the meter all the way to the main electric panel.
- They check the capacity of the circuit breaker.
Checking whether or not the circuit breaker is functioning, and if the circuit itself is at risk of overload, is integral to maintaining electrical safety. Electricians would primarily inspect if the breaker can maintain currents at safe levels. However, they would also determine if there is water damage, corrosion, or other structural and mechanical problems that might result in sparks or fire.
- They inspect electrical wires for fraying or damage.
Wires that are fraying, popping out of their protective coating, dangling from ceilings or walls, and exposed to damp or wet areas are always things electricians look out for. In doing this, they leave no space unexamined – electricians would check everything from wire encased in plain sight to those looped through nooks and crannies. They note where wiring has or could become unsafe, then recommend the necessary fixes.
- They ensure that GFCI outlets are correctly wired.
Ground fault circuit interrupters, or GFCIs, are devices installed on outlets to cut these off from the power supply if the GFCI detects irregularities. These irregularities include water or moisture in the outlet, or objects other than plugs. GFCIs are thus essential to home safety, and electricians double-check that these are in working order.
Electrical Inspection Checklist. Angie’s List, January 13, 2016.