By Tim Shuford, NPI Franchise Owner, Jamestown, North Carolina
Maybe it’s because so many of us were encouraged to learn about electricity by experimenting with batteries, wire, light bulbs, small motors, etc. during our youth. (And I certainly don’t discourage this experimentation, since that provides critical learning opportunities.) But it sure does seem that a lot of folks missed the lesson that some additional precautions and rules apply to the electrical system in a home.
A couple of the most common electrical findings (especially in attics and crawl spaces) during home inspections are splices not enclosed in electrical boxes and electrical boxes without proper covers installed. The National Electric Code requires splices to be made inside enclosed electrical boxes and that electrical boxes have covers installed. The drivers behind these requirements are fire safety and shock hazard prevention. Since we see this so often, one might wonder how important this really is, since the houses obviously haven’t burned down and we typically don’t observe any electrocuted bodies near these installations. (In case you didn’t know, the NEC is published by the National Fire Protection Association. This fact should allow some of the old brain cells to conclude that not following the NEC rules just might result in a fire.)
Of course, there are many other electrical deficiencies that are discovered by home inspectors. A significant percentage of these deficiencies were obviously created by a well-meaning DIY-er or handyman with an ultimate goal in mind. Unfortunately, the “how to do it correctly” knowledge seems to be based largely on the discoveries made by playing with batteries and wires many years prior. The scary part is how much stuff may be hidden in walls and other areas inaccessible for observation during an inspection.
Although preferred, I’m not necessarily a stickler that all electrical work in a home must be performed by a licensed electrician, but it would seem to be reasonable that such work be done in a manner that provides a safe result for the occupants of the home. If folks are not going to hire a professional to make modifications to an electrical system, then they should put forth some effort to gain an understanding of how to do it correctly.
Now, how many other areas in the home and in life could we say this about?
Tim Shuford is a professional National Property Inspections home inspector in Jamestown, North Carolina. If you live in the area, call 336.823.6605 to schedule your home inspection with Tim.
NPI and GPI home inspectors have the tools and knowledge to assess your home. Consult with your local NPI or GPI inspector for an assessment of your home.