I often get asked if I give some sort of priority or ranking to issues that I find when inspecting a home.
I absolutely do. Short answer: Fix electrical wiring.
Of all the systems that make up a home, electrical issues that should be fixed appear in the summary section of my home inspection reports more often than any other.
This summary section appears before the rest of the report. Issues that need to be addressed first (sometimes I’ll say “before occupying”) go into the summary.
Updating Your Home: Safety vs. Expense
Safety related issues always get priority, even over more expensive issue.
Think: repainting a house vs. faulty outlets. The first is expensive, the second potentially dangerous but relatively inexpensive.
Electricity has more potential for immediate harm than any other system in the house, save only a building that is actively falling down. Therefore, even relatively inexpensive electrical issues get emphasis in my home inspection reports.
I’ve already written about one electrical issue at our new house (and another), but I have another that presents a good opportunity to remind readers about the caution that needs to be exercised with electricity.
A Case Study
The picture below is of a wire that was running under our kitchen sink. It feeds the disposal and the dishwasher.
As you can see, the wire sheathing completely wore through and exposed the bare wire.
This is a very dangerous situation, exacerbated by the wire being a relatively wet area that is frequently accessed.
Maybe it should be called “bear wire” to emphasize the danger.
The covering on the wire most likely wore through because it was not well secured.
Years of the wire rubbing around the rim of the access hole in the subfloor to the basement eventually caused the protective sheathing to fail. I’d say that the vibration of the disposal probably had a hand in the wear, too.
Time for this electrical wiring to take priority.
Something duct tape can’t be used for…wire splices!
When To Fix Electrical Wiring In Your House
So what is the lesson to take away from this?
As a homeowner, be especially attentive to wiring that is exposed in basements, attics, crawlspaces, and other out-of-the-way areas.
If you see or suspect damage, call an electrician.
Do not take it upon yourself to fix electrical wiring issues. Most electrical contractors have someone who is on-call and can come out to your house fairly quickly.
The electrical wiring safety information on this webpage is a great overview of what you need to be aware of regarding the safety of the wiring in your house.
Finally, use your home inspection report as a guideline on prioritizing and fixing the wiring in your new home.
Suggested: Historic Homes: An Unofficial Buyers Guide
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