As a homeowner, it is very important to conduct safety checks for the electrical systems of the property. This should happen around once a year to ensure that nothing is overlooked. The inspection process is simple and easy, and finding an issue early could prevent many disastrous situations.
So, here is our list of electrical safety checks that you should do every year.
Inspect the Breaker Panel
The first thing you should do when conducting safety checks is to look over your main electrical panel. Generally, you should have at least 3 feet of space around the panel. Additionally, you should have a battery-operated light source that is easy to access in case of a power outage.
Next, you should open the panel door and examine the breakers. Take note of any signs of rust or rodent damage. Check the circuit breakers by flipping them on and off a few times, and make sure that none of the switches are corroded or sticking. This can prevent the breakers from functioning properly.
Finally, make sure that everyone who lives on the property is aware of how to safely reset a popped circuit breaker, especially if you’re a snowbird.
Do Thorough GFCI Testing
If there are any outlets in your house that may be exposed to water, they need to be ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protected.
This can take many forms, including an individual outlet, an outlet that is placed farther up on the same circuit, or by a GFCI breaker located on the main panel. Regardless of the location of the GFCI, you should be able to use the test button to ensure that all of the affected outlets are turned off.
When it comes to checking the safety of outlets, a receptacle tester is often the handiest tool. This is also referred to as a “block” or a “cube” tester. This device is extremely user-friendly.
All you must do is plug it into an electrical outlet and observe the display lights that indicate the most likely outlet wiring problems. This tool is affordable and widely available, so it’s worth keeping in your toolbox.
Visually Inspect Any Exposed Wiring
If your property has any exposed wiring runs, particularity in the basement or attic, it’s worth taking the time to look it over. Check the wiring for any signs of cracking, splitting, or rodent damage. You want to be especially careful if this is near sites that are prone to leaks.
If you do have a rodent issue in your home, you may find signs of chewing or even nesting in your exposed wiring. In this case, it is imperative to get rid of any pest infestations that are present in the home and take steps to repair any damage in the wiring.
Review Extension Cords
While extension cords are essential to many people, they can also be dangerous if they are damaged. Add any extension cords you own to your electrical safety check routine, and inspect the cords for any signs of cuts, splits or any damage to the cables.
Inspect the Exterior Outlets of the Property
Next in your safety check, you should examine the exterior outlets of your home. Make sure that each outlet is sealed and protected against weather elements or animal intrusion.
These outlets must be GFCI protected, and they should trip when you are running your GFCI tests. If you have something that has been plugged into an exterior outlet for an extended amount of time, check to make sure that it isn’t holding the weather protector open, which could expose the outlet to water.
If you are using the outdoor outlet for an extended amount of time, invest in an outlet cover that has access holes, which will allow the outlet to remain protected while it’s being used.
Check for Tamper Resistant Outlets
Another thing you can do to check the safety of your electrical systems is to use tamper-resistant outlets. According to the National Electrical Code (NEC), all outlets that are accessible to children must feature an interior shield. This protects the outlet from the insertion of inanimate objects like coins or paper clips, preventing electric shocks.
This check is simply visual. A tamper-resistant outlet will have a visible plastic barrier behind the outlet’s openings. If you just see a dark hole in the outlet, that means it is not tamper-resistant. Fortunately, if you need to upgrade your outlets, the process is relatively easy and inexpensive.
Test the Tightness of Your Outlets
Like any mechanical item, outlets can get worn down over time. If your plug sits in the outlet loosely, replace your outlet to avoid safety hazards.
Test the Voltage
Any electrical safety check should include monitoring the behavior of the electronic devices in your home. If you’re noticing irregular things like lights flickering, you may want to check the voltage on the outlet you are using.
While the issue may be as simple as a loose wire, a voltage test can help you determine the root cause of the problem.
To check the voltage level of an outlet, use a voltmeter or a multimeter set. For a typical household outlet, you will probably find readings between 110 and 130 volts. If the results are outside of that range, then you may have to conduct some repairs to your electrical system.
Use the Five Senses Test
While most of the above tests are visual, we can’t forget about the usefulness of our other senses when it comes to electrical safety.
Check outlets for excessive heat. Take note if you happen to smell “hot wire” around a switch or an outlet to determine if they need to be switched out, including on your thermostat. Listen for popping or cracking sounds in a switch or an outlet.
Ultimately, as a homeowner it is imperative to inspect the safety of your electrical system. Conducting these safety checks annually can save time, money, or even someone’s life. If you notice a larger issue or are unfamiliar with how electrical systems work, always call a professional.
It’s hard to know which electrical safety checks to perform on a regular basis and which to leave for later. Get in touch with Income Realty Home Watch today and let us teach you how to take care of your home!