Home Safety Inspections

When to Get a Home Inspection:

Your home is over 40 years.
Your home has undergone a major renovation or integrated a new, large appliance within the past decade.
You are a new homeowner of a previously owned home.
Your lights experience frequent flickering or dimming.
Your circuit breakers flip and/or fuses blow regularly.
You have hot-to-touch and/or discolored light switch faceplates
You hear unusual noises coming from electrical outlets.

Think about how much you use electricity on a daily basis. Whether you’re cooking dinner, browsing the web, or blow-drying your hair, you rely on electricity more than you probably realize. You want to know that your appliances and outlets are functioning reliably so they work when you need them and don’t put your home at risk for an electrical fire. Electrical safety inspections are crucial to the well-being of your home and the safety of all those who occupy it. Because of this, the Electrical Safety Foundation has compiled a set of guidelines for when you should seek a home inspection.

The inclusion of GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) and surge protection in your home is highly recommended, as it helps protect against accidental electric shock or electrocution. As a precaution, homeowners should consider the installation of GFCIs on general-purpose receptacles throughout the home.

Surge protection offers an additional layer of protection. In fact, if you have sophisticated appliances and electronics, you can’t afford not to safeguard them with whole-house surge protectors. With these installed, you can feel confident your expensive items are properly protected.

General Electrical Safety

If your home has any of the following defects, they could stop you from passing an electrical safety inspection:

  • Old knob and tube wiring
  • Broken or missing carbon monoxide detectors or smoke alarms
  • New lights installed onto old wiring
  • Overcrowded wires
  • Non-IC-rated recessed lights that touch attic insulation
  • Illegally spliced wires

Hallways & Staircases

Even the halls and stairs in your home have specific electrical codes, largely because they serve as escape routes in the event of a fire, inclement weather, and another emergency. Here are the codes you must meet:

  • Lights are located frequently enough along the hallway or staircase to prevent casting a shadow.
  • Hallways longer than 10 feet feature an outlet for general purposes.
  • Three-way switches are located at the top and bottom of each staircase and both ends of every hallway.
  • If a staircase or corridor turns, additional lighting illuminates the area.

Kitchen

Electricity demand is high in the kitchen. Code requirements demand the following:

  • Each motorized appliance has its own circuit, including the microwave, dishwasher, refrigerator, and garbage disposal.
  • The electric range, cooktop, or oven has its own dedicated 240-volt circuit.
  • A minimum of two receptacle circuits are installed above the countertop.

Bathroom

A code-compliant bathroom meets the following requirements:

  • The combination fan/light/heater has its own 20-amp circuit.
  • All outlets are ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI).
  • Light fixtures in the shower or tub area are moisture-resistant and covered with a lens.

Living, Dining & Bedrooms

While these rooms don’t usually feature large appliances, certain electrical codes still apply:

  • Each room has a wall switch installed beside the entry door. This switch may control a ceiling light, sconce light, or outlet where a desk or standing lamp is plugged.
  • Ceiling fixtures are controlled by a wall switch, not a pull chain.
  • Outlets are installed no further than 12 feet apart.

Attached Garage

The attached garage is an extension of your home and must meet these code requirements to pass an electrical safety inspection:

  • At least one wall switch controls the lighting, which is in addition to the garage door opener light.
  • Three-way switches are installed at the side door and the door leading out.
  • At least one GFCI outlet is installed in the garage on its own circuit to accommodate power tools.