You've purchased a home, and you may be curious about repairs performed by the previous owners. Electrical wiring, especially in an older home, can be a potential fire hazard -- and it's even more dangerous if the wiring has not been done correctly. In fact, as many as 13 percent of all residential structural fires are caused by an electrical failure of some kind.
What can you do to make sure that your home is wired properly and that any past electrical repairs have been made by someone qualified and knowledgeable enough to do so?
Check the permit history.
You can check with the Building Division or County Clerk where you're located to find out if permits have been issued for work done. Most people are seeking information on how to obtain a permit, but the office should have a historical record of permits that have been applied for at a particular address. Look for a person who has a title of Permit Technician or Administrator, and find out whether you can check their database for historical permits issued at your address.
Electrical permits that have been issued for your residence should show what work was done and prove that it was inspected properly.
However, you should also know that each county and even each municipality may have its own codes that govern how much a homeowner can do without a permit. Many areas let you do wiring in your own home that will not be rented or sold within a year. Even if you live in a location where permits are required to do basic wiring, there are no guarantees that previous residents actually got one to do any wiring.
If you live in a house that's more than a couple decades old, and you don't find any permit information, it may be safe to assume that work has been done without a permit.
Be aware of dimming or flickering lights.
You likely had your home inspected before you purchased it, but there are many issues that an inspector can miss. Keep your eyes open and watch for electrical problems that may indicate improper wiring. One of the most common issues that is not caught during an inspection is flickering lights, which may happen only under some circumstances or particular loads on a circuit. If you see regular flickering or dimming of lights, it is a sign of faulty wiring.
Most other signs of wiring issues should have been caught during an inspection, but be aware that buzzing when a light is turned on, a buzzing sound when power is on or discoloration around light switches and outlets can also indicate wiring problems.
If you suspect that your home has out-of-date or improperly completed electrical wiring, you need a qualified electrician to perform a full inspection. The electrician will have the background and experience to identify potentially faulty wiring and make the proper electrical repairs -- before damage occurs. To learn more, contact a company like Chadwick Electric Services.