What to look for before a home inspection on your listed home: Electrical 2
It can be very helpful to have a home inspection before listing your home. That way, you know what a home inspector is likely to point out when a buyer puts a contract on your home. There are some areas where home inspectors will focus their attention when going through your home, and one of the most critical ones is the electrical system.
A buyer may panic if he/she receives a home inspection report with electrical issues. My electrical company does a lot of electrical repairs on home inspection reports. Most of the time, the buyers are in a near panic that their potential new home is going to burn down while everyone is sleeping. The reality is, most home inspection electrical issues are not that dangerous, but regardless, they should not be there. In the earlier blog on this topic, I discussed other electrical issues that show up on many home inspection reports.
Home Inspection Electrical Issues: Kitchen Counters
The kitchen is a prime area for electrical issues. Ground fault receptacle placement has been increasing in homes since 1971. In 1987, any receptacle within 6 feet of a sink had to be ground fault protected. Over the years, that has increased to any receptacle on a counter-top.
A home built in 1970, did not have the same requirements. It is always good to have anything on the counter-top protected, and most inspectors are going to point that out even if the home is a pre-1971 home, but when of the construction was 1970 or before, GFI receptacles were not required on the counter-top. If a receptacle has been replaced from 1971 to the current time, it would need to be replaced with a GFI.
Home Inspection Electrical Issues: Sub-panels
Sub-panels are another home inspection item that is often cited in reports. Sub-panels are smaller electrical panels that are used to increase the capacity of circuits beyond the main panel. Often, a sub-panel is installed in an area where more wiring is being installed. It facilitates the new wiring without going all the way back to the main panel.
Sub-panels are also used in basements, detached garages or anywhere where more circuits are needed and it is more cost-effective to install a sub-panel and not run each feeder back to the main panel. Sub-panels will also show up next to a main panel when the primary electrical need is simply more breaker capacity than the main panel can accommodate.
Sub-panel breakers are exactly like main panel breakers. The only real difference in a sub-panel and a main panel is that there is no main breaker, and the ground wires (bare copper) and neutral wires (white) are separated to their own bars. Neutral wires are not bonded to the box itself. They are tied to a neutral bar that runs back to the main panel. The ground wires on the other hand, are tied to a ground bar and the sub-panel box and they also run back to the main panel.
Without getting to heady and causing your eyes to glaze over, a neutral wire is used to return current back to the main panel. If the ground is tied to the same neutral bar, it will also be carry current (amperage) back to the main panel. It is amperage that kills, not voltage. I’ve been shocked with 20,000 volts before, but it was very low current. Therefore, it stung, but it didn’t harm me. If the neutral and ground wires are tied together in a sub-panel, anything that is grounded, such as, a refrigerator, a freezer or any motor, etc., can be energized and shock you.
The wires are separated to give voltage a safe and unrestricted path back to the main panel. This happens when an unqualified person installs a sub-panel and the individual violates the rule and creates a shock hazard. Home inspectors will point this out in their report. You’ll see language such as, grounds and neutrals need to be separated in the sub-panel” in the report. This is another reason to have a qualified electrician do any work on a home.
Issues can be resolved quickly and most often, inexpensively. It’s better to have them resolved before listing. That way, a buyer does not panic about other potential electrical problems.
When you’re ready to list your Winchester-Frederick County, VA home, give Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., a call. We are your local real estate sales pros, and we are also Virginia State contractors. We can preview your home before you list to see what needs to be addressed. That way, you can escape a lot of home inspection repairs before a contract ratification.