SELLING YOUR HOME? INSPECTION ITEMS, PART 1. DOES YOUR HOUSE NEED AN ELECTRICAL FACELIFT?
If you’re intending to sell your house in the near future, there are a few inspection items of which many homeowners are unaware. We’ll be taking you through a few common issues that will be addressed when selling your home and should be resolved prior to putting the For Sale sign in front of your house.
The first topic that we’ll cover is electrical updating. You may have lived with the existing wiring the entire time you occupied the home but be certain that the home inspector and your buyer will want these issues resolved.
What type of Electrical Panel do you have?
Federal Pacific Electrical Panels Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE) was one of the most common manufacturers of circuit breaker panels in North America from the 1950s to the 1980s. Millions of their panels were installed in homes across the country. Yet, as the years passed, electricians and home inspectors often found Federal Pacific Electric panels failed to provide proper protection to homeowners and their families. Experts now say that FPE panels can appear to work fine for years, but after one overcurrent or short circuit, they can overheat and become fire hazards.
In a class action lawsuit, a New Jersey State Court ruled that the Federal Pacific Electric (FPE) Company “violated the Consumer Fraud Act because FPE knowingly and purposefully distributed circuit breakers which were not tested to meet UL standards…” (To see the Class Action Settlement Notice issued for New Jersey Residents, click here.) An expert who investigated the potential hazards of Federal Pacific Electric panels stated under UL 489 test conditions, that FPE panels fail to trip at a much higher rate than standard panels.
When a breaker fails to trip, an extreme amount of power from the outside electrical supply surges into a home’s panel and circuits. Once that happens, it cannot be stopped or shut off manually. Electricity will burn until it runs out of fuel or the wires melt. The panel could overheat and catch fire, causing serious harm to a home and its occupants. Many Federal Pacific Electric panels and breakers can operate properly for years. But if and when they do malfunction, a disaster could occur.
Do you have GFCI outlets in your wet areas?
A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) or Residual Current Device (RCD) is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person. It is used to reduce the risk of electric shock., which can make the heart to stop or cause burns. They can also prevent some fires, like when a live wire touches a metal conduit.
GFCIs are required by local law to be installed in kitchens, bathrooms, unfinished basements, garages, outdoors, and anywhere near a sink. Notably, these are all places where water may allow a short circuit to happen.
Do you have AFCI outlets in your bedrooms?
An Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) is a specific duplex receptacle or circuit breaker designed to help prevent fires by detecting an unintended electrical arc and disconnecting the power before the arc starts a fire. An AFCI must distinguish between a harmless arc that occurs incidental to normal operation of switches, plugs and brushed motors and an undesirable arc that can occur, for example, in a lamp cord that has a broken conductor in the cord.
Arc faults in a home are one of the leading causes for electrical wiring fires. Each year in the United States, over 40,000 fires are attributed to home electrical wiring. These fires result in over 350 deaths and over 1,400 injuries each year.
The 2008 NEC requires the installation of combination-type AFCIs in all 15 and 20 ampere residential circuits with the exception of laundries, kitchens, bathrooms, garages and unfinished basements.
Do you have aluminum wiring?
During the 1960’s and 70’s, aluminum (instead of copper) wiring became quite popular and was extensively used. Since that time, aluminum wiring has been implicated in a number of house fires, and is no longer permitted in Texas.
The main problem with aluminum wiring is a phenomenon known as “cold creep”. When aluminum wiring warms up, it expands. When it cools down, it contracts. Unlike copper, when aluminum goes through a number of warm/cool cycles it loses a bit of tightness each time. To make the problem worse, aluminum oxidises, or corrodes when in contact with certain types of metal, so the resistance of the connection goes up. Which causes it to heat up and corrode/oxidize still more. Eventually the wire may start getting very hot, melt the insulation or fixture it’s attached to, and possibly even cause a fire.
If you need to sell your house fast, it’s a good idea to hire a certified electrician in advanced to repair any necessary items and avoid scaring your potential buyers.