5 electrical issues to look out for when buying a home
If you’ve found yourself in the home buying process in the DMV chances are that you have looked at a few homes that are on the older side. Be aware that some of the modern day electrical amenities we’ve come to cherish were probably missing. The reality is, homes built back in the day were not built with the same electrical code as current homes do. As you embark on the journey of purchasing a home, we’ve put together a list of the top 5 things to consider in getting your new home in top electrical shape!
1 // Outlets
Think about how many plugs the typical homeowner uses in their bedroom alone. From electronics, chargers, TVs, cable boxes, and lighting, it’s not far fetched to think that half a dozen outlets is a bare minimum these days. When touring a potential home, walk around the perimeter of each room and count how many plugs are present. It’s not uncommon for houses built prior to 1970 to only have 2-3 plus total in each room!
The National Electrical Code (NEC) rules for the placement of electrical receptacles (outlets) basically states that within any living area of a home, you must have an electrical receptacle (outlet) 6 feet from any obstruction or break in the wall, such as a doorway, and no more than 12 feet from the previous electrical receptacle (outlet),
The 6 / 12 rule are minimums and in theory there is no reason within the code that you could not have an electrical receptacle (outlet) every foot across the wall space.
2 // Know your service
How many AMPS are coming into the house? Meaning how much electricity is the house currently getting from the power company. New and updated homes typically have at least 200 AMPS of service coming into the main circuit breaker while older homes usually have 150 AMPS or less. If the house you purchase has 150 AMPS or less, you will most likely need to do a Heavy Up after purchase, which is a fancy and specialized term in the world of home renovation and electrical work that essentially means to increase the amperage coming into your house—at the service panel—so that your electrical system can receive and handle an increased load.
3 // Ungrounded plugs
Houses built prior to the 1970’s typically only accept 2 prong plugs. The thing is, three prong outlets are the standard these days. As you inspect your future home, look carefully at outlets around the house and take note of which ones are still 2 pronged. It’s not uncommon for new homeowners to ask the selling party to upgrade the outlets prior to move in.
4 // Ceiling fans
This is the #1 issue we get called out for with new home owners – regardless of the home age. Often times, if Harry Homeowner decided to install the ceiling fan himself, it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that the wrong (junction) box was used. If they used the existing electrical box and just replaced the light fixture for a ceiling fan then you have the wrong box. Ceiling fans require a ceiling fan box that can sustain the weight of a ceiling fan. When going through your new home – ask who installed the ceiling fans and were the proper boxes used when installing them. It will save you the headache in the long run!
5 // Overloaded Circuits
Is the demand on a circuit too much for it too handle. In your kitchen, can you plug your coffee maker and toaster oven into the same outlet device without overloading the circuit? Can you plug in your hair dryer while your flat iron is also on at the same time without causing an overload or the breaker to trip? You need to make sure that you have dedicated circuits in places where you will be using high wattage appliances.