8 Electrical Considerations When Buying a Home

On your hunt for the perfect house, you likely have an ongoing checklist of both must-have things and red flags. Often, that checklist includes aspects regarding appearance. However, before signing a contract you will want to add other essential checkmarks to your list.

When you finally find the home for you, with the granite countertops and hardwood floors you dream of, you don’t want to discover it’s all too good to be true. Don’t let your dream home become a nightmare; look for these electrical considerations when buying a home.

The Circuit Panel

As you attend the open house, inquire about the location of the circuit panel. This step is helpful since you can take a moment to look at its condition, size, and if the labels seem accurate. Houses today usually come with a minimum of 100 amps to power anything electrical. If the home does not meet that minimum, you will likely need electrical work done.

If you are looking into older homes, the amp minimum is especially important to keep in mind. You may love the look and feel of an older home, but you certainly do not want its electricity to reflect the property’s age. Try to think of older houses as being stuck in time; they can only adequately power the electrical requirements of their era. If you notice the circuit panel size is smaller than usual, you may need the help of an electrician to increase the property’s amperage.

The Circuit Breaker Condition

As you inspect the circuit breaker, look at the outlets and light switches and note any damages to the areas. Be on the lookout for cracks, exposed wire, or scorch marks. These are clear signs that the house’s electrical system may be out of date and present a serious danger to those in the vicinity. Moreover, it could cost you thousands to make the household safe and bring it up to code.

Improperly Labeled Circuits

The circuit breaker is likely improperly labeled if it reads more like hieroglyphics than English. Improper labeling can become an annoyance if you need electrical work done as there is no way for the electrician to know which breaker goes to what area. You may need a helper running through the house on a walkie-talkie as you switch on each breaker to find the correlating site.

To avoid the annoyance of this scenario, be sure to check the circuit panel when looking at potential houses. What’s more, an adequately marked circuit is a legal requirement. As such, if the home has an improperly labeled circuit, you might consider bringing this up to the seller so they can rectify the issue. (Let them deal with the walkie talkies.)

OIder Wiring Methods

There are many reasons why you should know what type of wiring is in your potential home. A modern home usually has non-metallic cable or copper wiring with a plastic covering. However, if the wiring is not contemporary, this might be cause for concern. For example, some houses may still have knob-and-tube wiring, which can be a serious safety risk as it is not adaptable to moisture or grounded.

An old electrical system may also lead you to thousands in rewiring costs. While you are more likely to find outdated and degraded wiring in an older place, this issue isn’t exclusive to old homes. Therefore, it is essential to ask about the wiring in any house you look into.

Unprotected Outlets

One thing you want to check for is if the house is surge protected. A rise in electrical power can hit your home and travel through the wires to your appliances. If this instance happens and you don’t have a surge protector, it can completely burn your devices, making them obsolete. Without a surge protector, your house’s electricity and appliances are vulnerable.

If the house you are looking at is not surge protected, that’s ok, as it is an easy fix. You can easily have a whole-house surge protector hard-wired to your breaker by a licensed electrician.

Limited Outlet Quantity

As you view potential homes, look around and note how many outlets are available. A standard room should have anywhere from four to six outlets. If you notice less, the low outlet availability may become a problem for you as your house may not be able to meet your electrical requirements. In this case you may require the help of an electrician to install more outlets to fit your needs.

Ghost Switches

Knowing if there are any ghost switches in the house is always helpful. A ghost switch is an outlet connected to a light switch. This switch is excellent for lighting of all kinds as you can control the electricity with a switch rather than having to plug something in or turn it on continuously. When moving in, you don’t want to waste any time in confusion over a switch that seems to do nothing. Knowing if there are ghost switches in the house will be very helpful especially when mapping out your lighting.

Permitted Construction

With home renovation being so popular, it’s smart to access the city permits and check for any remodeling done to the property as the current owner may not know the house’s entire history. If you plan on doing renovations yourself, acquiring permits is especially important. Keep in mind that even the permits of a home may not be able to show you everything.

Remodeling requires specific permits to proceed. However, with many home renovators doing it themselves, you may purchase a house that has had work done without any permits. If that’s the case, it is also imperative to have an electrician inspect the electrical systems to ensure everything is up to code.

Have An Electrical Inspection

One of the most critical electrical considerations when buying a home is the electrical safety of your potential home. There can be many issues lurking within the walls and wiring of the house, some of which can lead to serious fire hazards. Due to this risk, it is essential to have an electrical inspection before signing a contract, especially if you are serious about purchasing the house.

If you are looking for a trusted and licensed electrician to inspect your potential home in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, then Live Oak Electrical Services is the company for you. We will thoroughly inspect and inform you of any risks and danger so that you will know what it takes to make the electrical system safe and up to code.

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