Ask Angi: Should I get an electrical inspection?

Electricity is one of those things in your home you probably don't think about maintaining until something goes wrong. And indeed, with no moving parts, the electrical infrastructure of your home can go years without problems. Electrical inspections check that outlets are installed correctly and with the right wire.(Ian Allenden/Dreamstime/TNS)
Electricity is one of those things in your home you probably don't think about maintaining until something goes wrong. And indeed, with no moving parts, the electrical infrastructure of your home can go years without problems. Electrical inspections check that outlets are installed correctly and with the right wire.(Ian Allenden/Dreamstime/TNS)

Electricity is one of those things in your home you probably don't think about maintaining until something goes wrong.

And indeed, with no moving parts, the electrical infrastructure of your home can go years without problems. But any system wears out, especially one with a lot of heat and energy traveling through it, and as the years pass, you may notice more problems with outlets and circuit breakers.

Maintaining electrical outlets and switches is both preventative maintenance and a critical aspect of home safety. That's why regular inspections and addressing issues with outlets and switches prevent electrical hazards, potential fires and ensure the reliable functioning of the electrical system.

The holidays tend to put a lot of strain on the system, so this is a good time of year to get a checkup.

If your switches, outlets and lighting are not operating as you would expect, or are behaving differently than they have, an electrician can tell you if repair or if replacement is appropriate. It is safest to address any potential electrical work immediately, but if you have any repairs you've put off, take the time to address them now.

A professional hired for electrical inspections will examine outlets and switches for signs of wear, damage or safety hazards. They'll assess wiring, connections and overall functionality to ensure compliance with safety standards and make sure they're in line with the National Electrical Code (NEC). You'd be surprised how much pre-existing work wasn't done up to code standards, especially in older homes.

A full electrical system inspection will cost around $150, depending on home size. For individual specific problems that come up, your electrician will likely charge their hourly rate.

An electrician generally checks that the system is using the correct gauge of wire to handle intended loads on specific circuits; that cables and wires are installed securely and correctly; that GFCI and AFCI breakers are working as intended; that all outlets and switches are at a safe height; and that wires are labeled correctly.

Signs indicating the need for attention to outlets and switches include sparking, flickering lights, outlets not holding plugs securely, discoloration or signs of overheating.

In any of those cases, have a professional check it out sooner rather than later. Energy bills rising suddenly for no apparent reason can also give away a potential problem. Consider a preventative maintenance inspection every 3-5 years. If your home is more than 25 years old, get the electrical system inspected every 2-3 years. The older the home, the more liable the system is to breaking down.

Hire licensed electricians or electrical contractors experienced in inspecting and repairing electrical systems, including outlets and switches. Licensing requirements vary by location, but ensure they're qualified and insured. Investing in a comprehensive inspection by a reputable electrician is crucial for safety, so consider this as a necessary expense.

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