Of all the systems in your Sterling, VA home, your electrical system is the most difficult to assess and maintain. After all, many of its features are hidden behind drywall and outlet covers where slow and developing problems are all but impossible to detect. Countless homeowners have festering issues that pose an increasing risk of electrocution and electrical fires. Fortunately, it’s possible to have problems like these diagnosed and resolved before they spiral out of control. With regular electrical inspections, you can protect everyone in your home.
Make Sure Your Electrical System Is Code-Compliant
Residential electrical code sets the standard for safety in electrical systems. If you purchased pre-existing construction or if you’ve ever hired a handyman or unlicensed person to work on your wiring, there’s a good chance that problems were introduced. Whether by faulty techniques or with substandard workmanship, unqualified service providers can render formerly safe electrical systems downright dangerous.
Among the most common missteps made by inexperienced providers is backstabbing wires into electrical outlets rather than mounting them securely to screws or inserting them into stabilizing clamps. Although backstabbed outlets can and do work, they’re more likely to malfunction over time. If you see thin, whitish smoke coming from an outlet just after use or smell a faint, burning odor, this could be the cause.
Other compliance-related issues that an electrician might find during an electrical inspection include:
- Light fixtures that lack splice boxes
- Mixed low-voltage and line wires
- Non-metallic, sheathed cables with damaged jackets
- Holes packed with too many wires
Seemingly small mistakes and oversights like these greatly increase the risk of electrical fires, electric shock, and electrocution. Even if code violations never result in injured occupants, they can still degrade the saleability of your property. If you put your home on the market and attract a motivated buyer, you might deal with a stalled transaction if your home’s electrical system can’t pass lender-required inspections.
Spot Hazardous Appliances
Few things are as frustrating as turning an essential appliance on only to have its circuit breaker trip repeatedly. Although this may be due to problems along the circuit’s wiring, an overheated and malfunctioning breaker, or a damaged electrical connection, aged and malfunctioning appliances cause breaker trips as well. Much like backstabbed, failed, and overcrowded outlets, these appliances can lead to electric shock, fires, and electrocution.
Electrical inspections pinpoint the underlying causes of repeatedly tripped breakers. This could be a huge help if you have a malfunctioning appliance that’s brand new. While you might never expect your brand-new refrigerator to fail, refrigerator manufacturers always account for defective parts and substandard workmanship by warranties. Whether a new appliance has frayed wiring along its cord, defective components, or overheated moving parts, it can and will trip its circuit breaker.
An electrical inspection can also help expedite your warranty claims. You can share your inspection report and other service documents with your warranty issuer.
Address Problems With Frayed Wiring and Shorts
Apart from spotting soot around outlets and being on the lookout for smoke and burnt odors, homeowners can’t really check the condition of their wiring. There are a number of reasons why electrical fires are among the most dangerous events that can occur in homes. These fires can break out at any time of day or night.
There’s also the fact that the wiring behind your walls is surrounded by flammable materials. Insulation, drywall, wood, and other features can ignite at the site of a small and localized electrical problem and send flames rapidly burning through the entire building. In some environments, it can take just 30 seconds for a minor electrical fire to become a widespread catastrophe. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there were 24,000 electrical fires in 2021 alone. Given the ongoing risk of these events and the massive amounts of damage and loss they can cause, scheduling regular inspections as a method of prevention just makes sense.
Replace Damaged or Malfunctioning Outlets
Most homes have at least one or two outlets that don’t work when devices are plugged into them. While simply plugging your cord into an alternative outlet is the easiest choice, it doesn’t address the potential for dangerous hazards lurking within the walls. There’s always a reason why outlets don’t work. Sometimes, it’s as simple as flipping a wall switch. There could also be a heavy buildup of dust that must be removed. It also may be an indication of progressive damage caused by excess moisture, pests, or other outside factors.
If you have a cracked outlet, continuing to use it could put everyone in the home at risk of injury. Not only do outlet covers keep wiring and other electrical features safely away from curious hands, but they also keep debris like dust, dirt, and pet hair out. When outlet covers are cracked, buildups of these and other particulates can act like kindling for electrical fires. Routine inspections ensure that safety issues at outlets aren’t left unchecked.
Identify the Need for Surge Protection
Power surges happen all of the time. These events are the result of short or long-term disruptions in the electrical supply. Whenever electricity is restored, higher than normal voltage enters a home’s wires. Power surges are frequently caused by weather-related outages and overloaded circuits. But there are also constant fluctuations in the electrical supply from utility providers that cause mini power surges.
While minimally disruptive, mini-surge events can shorten the lifespans of flat-screen TVs, gaming computers, washing machines, laptops, and more. More importantly, each power surge and mini-surge event also accelerates wear at all standard and ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets, wires, connections, breakers, and more. Thus, if these events don’t cause your dryer or deep freezer to fail prematurely, they could be an indirect cause of an electrical fire.
Identify Hidden Pest Infestations
Electrical inspections are a key component of many successful, ongoing pest management plans. In fact, if you’re currently battling an active infestation with little success, the lack of this important support could be why. Rodents often hide in walls and sharpen their teeth on electrical wires. Bed bugs set up camp in outlets and leave dry exoskeletons, feces, and other kindling for electrical fires behind. Even cockroaches find a reason to inhabit these spaces as they feed on the slightly sweet insulation that surrounds residential wiring. During an electrical inspection, even the best hiders in your home will be found.
Stay Abreast of the Need for Electrical Replacements
All of the components in your home’s electrical system have finite lifespans. During an inspection, your electrician can determine whether your electrical panel, wiring, outlets, or sockets need to be updated. This is also a chance to determine the age and integrity of hard-wired carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. If you’re constantly adding new appliances and devices to your home, these services will also help you determine how to best refine or upgrade your electrical system to support them.
We’re committed to keeping residents of Sterling, VA safe with outstanding electrical services and cutting-edge products. We offer electrical system upgrades, repairs, and installation services. We also provide EV charging stations, whole-house surge protection, attic fans, and indoor lighting. To schedule an appointment, get in touch with Absolute Electric today.