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The Best Electrical Outlet Type for Your Needs

Varying in category, voltage, and function, different electrical outlet types are each designed for a specific purpose. Different countries may have varying national standards, but the central goal is always the same: connecting you to your devices swiftly and easily.

Surge Protection Outlets for Clean Electricity

For reliable power you need to start with clean electricity, but what does that mean? Clean electricity is free of “noise,” (aka interference) that can be caused by nearby power lines or electrical substations. A noisy electrical supply is prone to surges, which is why one of the best ways to protect your home’s expensive electrical equipment is with a surge protector. Surge protection is also necessary in professional settings such as emergency power supplies or life-support systems for hospitals. If you don’t like the look of a surge protection power strip, you can buy in-wall surge protection outlets, too.

Polarized and Grounded Outlets Prevent User Error

Certain outlet types are designed only for specific connectors to improve safety. Polarized plugs and outlets are now the standard for all common household appliances. With polarized plugs, you’ll notice that one blade is slightly larger than the other. This ensures that you can only plug your appliance in one way, the right way, aligned with your home’s wiring system. Grounded plugs, usually found on larger appliances like ovens, refrigerators and televisions, have three prongs.

Use GFCI Outlets In Case of Water

Ever wonder why some outlets have reset buttons on them? This is a special type of receptacle called a GFCI, or ground-fault circuit interrupter. Required in kitchens, bathrooms, and other exposed or damp areas, that tiny “reset” button can protect from serious shock when the right amount of electricity and water meet. Acting like an ultra-sensitive circuit breaker, this face detects the amount of incoming and outgoing current, and if they are not even, shuts itself down. Therefore, if you are having trouble with one or more outlets in the kitchen, bathroom, or laundry area, simply locate the GFCI switch and try a reset, which will restart any circuits it has been connected to. If you are having trouble locating the GFCI switch, National Property Inspections is always here to lend a helping hand.

Childproof Outlets Protect Your Little Ones

If you have a young family, child proof outlets are now more accessible than ever. While they appear identical to standard outlets, they are anything but. A spring-loaded cover plate protects the outlet holes, which prevents the insertion of household objects when unequal pressure is applied to the receptacle’s contact points. So essentially, unless you are an adult trying to plug something in, the outlet won’t budge. With nearly 2,400 children (that’s seven per day!) in emergency rooms due to electrical shocks per year, this is a fantastic way to keep your little ones out of harm’s way.

If you are having trouble locating the GFI switch or are wondering if it is time for an upgrade, National Property Inspections is here to help.

December 2017: Electrical Inspections

Ask The Inspector

Electrical Inspections

Q. How Does an Inspector Check the Electrical System in a House?

Ask The Inspector

A. Starting off with the outdoor electrical service to the home, the inspector first determines whether the power source is underground or overhead. If the service is underground, then the only part visible to inspect may be a lateral piece of pipe coming up out of the ground on an outside wall and going into some type of meter panel. If there’s an overhead service, then the inspector can visually inspect the wires coming from the utility pole to the house, as well as the connections of the wires before the drip loop and weather head. They will also inspect the service mast and the mast going to the same outside meter panel, if it’s visible.

From the outdoor meter panel, a wire goes to either a main disconnect or directly to the main electrical panel inside the home. Once at the main panel, the inspector should first check to make sure the panel cover is not energized. If not, then he/she should carefully remove the cover to begin inspection of the main panel.

On the main panel, the inspector will determine the service size, and then inspect the inside of the panel, making sure that the right sized wires and breakers have been used for the branch circuits. Other things the inspector will look for are double-tapping (more than one wire under a lug or connection), open knock-outs, holes that may have been used at one time to run the cabling wire through, and too many disconnects in a panel. The inspector will also consider whether the wires used for the branch circuits are sized appropriately to the correct breaker.

In some cases, there may be additional panels, called subpanels, for more circuits in the home. Everything stated previously will apply to the inspection process for subpanels.

From the panels, the inspector will go about the house from room to room, inspecting the readily accessible outlets, light switches and electrical fixtures. On the outlets, the inspector will check for correct wiring practices: proper polarity, hot and neutral in the correct position, and proper grounding with three-prong outlets. Another safety requirement for certain outlets is proper ground fault (GFCI) or arc fault (AFCI) protection on newer homes according to today’s standards, so your inspector will check those, too.

When properly performed, the electrical inspection can take the most time and be more comprehensive than any other component of the home inspection process.

Be Advised

Holiday Fire Safety

The holiday season is upon us. That means Christmas trees, holiday lights, the warmth of candles and the glow of the fireplace, all contributing to that cozy holiday feeling. Unfortunately, these staples of holiday cheer can easily become fire hazards. However, with a little care, you can safely enjoy all of these things and keep your holiday season aglow.

Be Advised

Real Christmas Trees
Real or artificial seems to be a question that many people struggle with every year. After all, nothing beats the fresh scent of a real Christmas tree. But be careful with that tree — if it becomes too dry, the lights can too easily cause it to catch fire. Keep your real Christmas tree hydrated with plenty of water to avoid a fire hazard.

Holiday Lights
Nothing beats the soft, shimmering glow of holiday lights, both indoors and out. But keep two things in mind when hanging outdoor lights. First, always practice proper ladder safety. Second, be sure to use cords and extension cords rated for outdoor use. An indoor extension cord won’t do for outdoor lights.

Candles
Candles offer not only the soft lights of the holidays but also the scents of the holidays. Be careful where you set them, especially with pets or children in the house, and be sure to properly extinguish them.

Fireplaces
If you recently had your fireplace cleaned, then good for you—it’s ready to go for the winter and the holiday season. If you haven’t had your fireplace cleaned in a while, then creosote buildup could potentially cause a chimney fire. As with candles, be sure to properly extinguish a fire to prevent a hazard.

Snapshots From The Field

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Snapshots From The Field

  1. This is called a “concealed” downspout. It gives the outside of the house that “un-cluttered” look.
  2. This is called the maintenance-free downspout. You never have to worry about maintaining it or cleaning it out.
  3. Someone forgot to connect the downspout.
  4. The downspout is behind the wall.

Correct Answer D. It looks like there is no downspout there, when in fact they put it inside the wall. That’s okay isn’t it? When the day comes that it starts to leak, and it will, someone will be tearing the wall apart outside to fix it.

Noteworthy News

Being Smart About Appraisals

An appraisal is an evaluation of the value of a property at the time of the sale. It is generally ordered by the lending agency. Documentation to back up the appraisals may include a brief inspection of the home, a comparison of recent sales of similar properties and a general description of the property. It is not a home inspection. A home inspection is a detailed visual inspection of hundreds of components of the home or other property completed over two hours or more. A home inspector is generally hired by the buyer or seller.

Noteworthy News

Consider these tips when hiring an appraiser:

  • Ask lenders you use about the appraiser’s qualifications.
  • Check that the appraiser’s memberships in professional organizations are up-to-date.
  • Verify years of experience with the state’s board of appraisers.

When reviewing the appraisal, use your own knowledge of the property, the location and the square footage to determine if the findings seem reasonable. If not, it should raise a red flag and you may have to get a second opinion.

Maintenance Matters

Electrical protection: GFCI and AFCI

Advancements in electrical protection devices help keep families and businesses safe. These devices include Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) and Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs). Both help prevent electrical shocks and fires caused by erratic surges in electrical current.

MAINTENANCE MATTERS

GFCIs are designed to trip when they sense even a minor imbalance in current between the hot (black) and neutral (white) legs of an electrical circuit. They shut off power to the receptacle in a fraction of a second – fast enough to avoid a potentially fatal shock. In new construction, they’re required in kitchens and bathrooms, and in other areas that might get wet, such as the garage and basement.

GFCI outlets have test and reset buttons. If you locate the GFCIs in your home, it is a good idea to test them monthly to make sure they are operating properly.

As of 2002, AFCIs are required to be installed on branch circuits that serve residential bedrooms in new construction only, not existing construction. A property inspector can help pinpoint areas where adding AFCIs or GFCIs could help protect your family.

Did You Know?

Condensation on Windows

Noticing condensation on your windows? It could be the result of differences in the outdoor and indoor temperatures, but there are a couple of things you can do to put a stop to it. First, check the weather stripping on the window, as it may need to be replaced. Second, check the indoor humidity, as it could be too high. Indoor humidity should be 50 percent or less. If you have steamy windows, turn the humidity down to 25 or 30 percent. Also, make sure to use the exhaust fans in your bathrooms and kitchens to help control humidity.

Monthly Trivia Question

Two of the reindeers are named after weather phenomenon. Name the reindeer.

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbucks’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.

December 2016: Electrical Safety

Ask The Inspector

Electrical Safety

During a typical year, residential electrical problems account for tens of thousands of fires and millions in property damage. Most of these fires can be traced back to “fixed wiring” issues within a home’s or business’s internal wiring system itself. Safety is one reason why electrical components are a big part of any property inspection service.

Ask The Inspector

A National Property Inspections professional will perform a visual assessment of the home’s electrical system starting outside with the electrical connection from the street to the structure. The connection to the home, called the service drop, and the utility meter will both be inspected. The inspector continues inside with the electrical panels, light fixtures and a survey of individual outlets.

Where visible, the inspector assesses wires for cracking and aging, checks for the presence of grounding and identifies the size of the electrical system. At the electrical panel, the inspector will review the overall condition of the panel, its functionality based on the number of appliances, estimated age and capacity. The inspector will note the use of fuses or breakers and check for updated safety items such as ground fault circuit interrupters which help prevent electrical shock.

Be Advised

Electrical protection: GFCI and AFCI

Advancements in electrical protection devices help keep families and businesses safe. These devices include Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI’s) and Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI’s). Both help prevent electrical shocks and fires caused by erratic surges in electrical current.

Be Advised

GFCIs are designed to trip when they sense even a minor imbalance in current between the hot (black) and neutral (white) legs of an electrical circuit. They shut off power to the receptacle in a fraction of a second – fast enough to avoid a potentially fatal shock. In new construction they’re required in kitchens and bathrooms, and in other areas that might get wet, such as the garage and basement.

GFCI outlets have test and reset buttons. If you locate the GFCI’s in your home, it is a good idea to test them monthly to make sure they are operating properly.

As of 2002, AFCI’s are required to be installed on branch circuits that serve residential bedrooms in new construction only, not existing construction. A property inspector can help pinpoint areas where added safety measures such as AFCI’s or GFCI’s could help protect your family.

Snapshots From The Field

What’s Wrong With This Photo?

Snapshots From The Field

  1. It should not be on top of a roof
  2. It is slanted
  3. It is old

Correct Answer is 2. The condensation from the AC condenser caused the wood frame beneath it to rot. As a result, the unit is now overly slanted.

Noteworthy News

Holiday Light Safety

Electrical holiday lights and displays attract adults and children alike. But stringing and taking them down can cause accidents. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), it’s estimated that 12,500 people go to hospital emergency rooms for falls, cuts, shocks and burns related to holiday decorating.

Noteworth News

Before stringing lights, inside or out, you have to take a few safety precautions. One thing you can do is check each set of lights, new or old, for broken or cracked sockets. You’ll also have to look for frayed or bare wires, and loose connections.

Another thing you can do is use no more than three standard sized sets of lights per extension cord. It may be obvious to not run cords through water, even ones labeled for outdoor use, but weather conditions can often change in the winter, so it’s something to be aware of.

Installing automatic timers ensures that lights get turned off at night, taking one more daily task off your list, and saving electricity at the same time. Also, when you string your tree, be sure that it’s fresh. Brown or brittle needles are more likely to catch fire, so keeping the tree well-watered and fresh is extremely important.

Protect yourself and your home by following just a few simple lighting safety tips. But most importantly, enjoy the holiday season and your great decorative lighting.

Maintenance Matters

Maintaining Clothes Dryers

The Association of Home Appliances Manufacturers urges clothes dryer owners to clean lint filters after each load, and check and clean vent systems periodically.

Noteworth News

This helps improve air flow and energy efficiency while reducing the chance of overheating and fires. Despite several improvements in dryer construction and safety, several thousand fires started by dryer lint occur each year.

Like the oven and stove, dryers use extreme heat on flammable materials. Although most people are careful to keep their eye on the stove when cooking, they think nothing of leaving a dryer in the basement, garage or utility room unattended for an hour or more.

Other tips for preventing dryer fires and improving appliance efficiency include:

  • Occasionally remove the filter and clean with a nylon brush and hot, soapy water.
  • Avoid drying clothes that have ever had any type of oil or other flammable liquid spilled on them, such as alcohol or gasoline.
  • Replace plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses with rigid or flexible metal venting.

Keeping your dryer free from built up lint and checking the filter are the main ways to avoid any potential issues. With proper maintenance there’s no need to worry. A dryer that’s routinely maintained not only means that it will be safer, it will also lead to added years of dependable use.

Did You Know?

The Proper Use of Extension Cords

The good old extension cord can get abused with year round outdoor and indoor use in all kinds of conditions. They’re one of your handiest tools when it comes to the holidays, but they can be annoying bunches of tangles and knots, and even a safety issue.

That’s why the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that about 4,000 injuries associated with electric extension cords are treated in hospital emergency rooms each year. We’ve pulled together a few tips for usage and storage of electrical cords during the holiday season:

  • Make sure you’re using extension cords labeled for outdoor use when using outside the home
  • Never place an extension cord under rugs or through doorways where it can be damaged by foot traffic
  • Don’t use staples or nails to attach extension cords to baseboards or other surfaces. This can cause damage and present a shock or fire hazard
  • Always coil up the cords after you take down your decorations

For Your Information

Being Smart About Appraisals

An appraisal is an evaluation of the value of a property at the time of the sale. It is generally ordered by the lending agency. Documentation to back up the appraisals may include a brief inspection of the home, a comparison of recent sales of similar properties and a general description of the property. It is not a home inspection. A home inspection is a detailed visual inspection of hundreds of components of the home or other property completed over two hours or more. A home inspector is generally hired by the buyer or seller.

Most appraisers, like home inspectors, are professionals. However, cases where inflated appraisals were part of fraudulent mortgage schemes have been successfully prosecuted. To avoid problems, use common business sense. When purchasing a home, make sure to request a copy of the appraisal and to review it.

Consider these other tips:

Ask about the qualifications of appraisers used by lenders you use. Check that the appraiser’s memberships in professional organizations are correct. Verify years of experience with the state’s board of appraisers.

When reviewing the appraisal, use your own knowledge of the property, the location and the square footage to determine if the findings seem reasonable. If not, it should raise a red flag and suggest further investigation.

Monthly Trivia Question

What does a red front door mean in Scotland?

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbuck’s gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.

January 2016: Winter Maintenance

Ask The Inspector

Q. What is the proper location for the thermostat in my house?

A. Thermostats control the operation of heating and/or cooling systems in your home. Proper location, maintenance and operation of your thermostat keeps indoor temperatures comfortable and can save on utility costs.

Ask the inspector

Your thermostat should be located on an interior wall near the center of your home. It should not be in direct sunlight or near radiated heat from fireplaces, radiators or other heat sources. Generally, the thermostat is placed outside the kitchen. It should also be away from doors and windows that open and close frequently. Thermostats are generally located about five feet above the floor so they can be read or adjusted easily, and they may be controlled by a gauge, a dial or digitally with a panel of buttons. Thermostats should be assessed as part of a home’s general mechanical system during a home inspection.

Most thermostats for gas-fired appliances also have a variable anticipator to help prevent overheating. The anticipator “fools” the heating unit into shutting down just before the room hits the set temperature so the heat remaining in the furnace finishes the job.

Whenever changing a thermostat or performing routine maintenance, it’s a good idea to make sure the settings for the anticipator are correct.

Be Advised

Water Under Shingles Spells Trouble for Home Owners

Snow or rain can cause big problems in attics if insulation, ventilation and caulking, or sealing is not installed or maintained correctly.

Be Advised

In colder climates, ice dams, thick ridges of solid ice forming in the gutter or in the eaves of a home can damage gutters, siding or walls if left uncontrolled. Ice dams are caused when warm air flows into the attic and can’t escape. The warm air heats the roof, melting the snow above. The snow melts, and the melt-off runs down the roof to the eaves. Colder temperatures lower down toward the eaves cause the water to refreeze. Eventually, the ice forms dams in the gutters. Then, water flowing down the roof backs up under the shingles and can flow from there into the attic or interior wall spaces. Wet insulation or framing members can reduce R-values, lead to possible mold and mildew problems, or damage interior finishes.

In warmer climates, mildew and mold can still be a problem if warm moist air coming up from the house isn’t properly vented outside. Excessively warm temperatures in the attic can weaken components of the roof and shorten the lifespan of roofing material. Make sure all appliances in your home vent outside and your soffit vents are kept clear of insulation and other debris. This allows cooler air to come in at the bottom of the roofline and push warmer air out the top.

Snapshots From The Field

What’s Wrong With This Photo?

Snapshots From The Field

  1. This is called ice damming and is bad news for a home’s roof and attic.
  2. This is called ice bridging and is bad news for a home’s roof and attic.
  3. This is normal ice and snow melt-off from the roof and poses no threat.

Correct Answer 1. This is called ice damming and is usually caused by inadequate insulation and ventilation. This is about the worst case of ice damning we’ve ever seen. It will be tough for the home owner to fix because the ceilings on the second floor of this house are vaulted, leaving little room for ventilation, which is one of the things need to keep this problem from occurring.

Noteworthy News

Smart Light Bulb Technology

Noteworthy News

If you thought the newest lightbulb technology was the CFL or LED bulb, then you’re in for a big surprise. The latest innovations are smart light bulbs that offer a vast array of exciting features, such as wi-fi and Bluetooth, automation, and color changing. Here are just a few of the new options available:

BeOn Starter Pack

Each BeOn smart bulb houses a removable battery pack that allows the bulb to illuminate even when the light switch is turned off. This feature is handy in the case of power outages, and you can leave the battery pack in any bulbs that you want to stay on while you’re out of the house.

BeOn bulbs offer a unique security feature: If the bulbs “hear” your doorbell or alarm, they’ll light up automatically to make it look like someone is home, and in the event of a fire, they will hear your smoke alarm and light up so you can safely get out of the house. According to CNET, BeOn bulbs “also have a sort-of DVR function that lets you set them to ‘replay’ your typical at-home lighting patterns when you’re out on vacation.”

C by GE LED Starter Pack

Science suggests that the color temperature of lighting affects humans’ circadian rhythms. For example, a warm, lower color temperature tone (such as orange) can help you sleep better, while a cooler, higher color temperature (such as white) can help perk you up in the morning. With this in mind, the C by GE LED bulb changes color temperatures automatically, which can help stimulate melatonin levels and balance your circadian rhythm.

In addition, each bulb contains a Bluetooth radio, so you can pair it with your phone to control brightness and to turn the bulb on and off.

Qube

Qube bulbs offer built-in wi-fi and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), so the bulbs can connect to your mobile devices without a hub. You can also use your mobile device to control the bulb’s color, brightness and motion (dancing lights, anyone?). Priced under $20 per bulb, Qube claims to be the most comprehensive and affordable lighting solution.

Maintenance Matters

Dryer Maintenance for a Safer Home

Maintenance Matters

If you own a clothes dryer, then the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers recommends that you clean the lint filter after each load, and you should also check and clean the dryer vent periodically. This helps improve air flow and energy efficiency while reducing the chance of overheating and fire. Despite several improvements in dryer construction and safety, several thousand fires are started by dryer lint each year.

Like your oven and stove, your dryer uses extreme heat on flammable materials. Although most people are careful to keep their eye on the stove when cooking, they think nothing of leaving a dryer unattended in the basement, garage or utility room for an hour or more.

Other tips to prevent dryer fires and improve appliance efficiency include the following:

    • Occasionally remove the filter and clean with a nylon brush and hot, soapy water.
    • Avoid drying clothes that have had any type of oil or other flammable liquid spilled on them, such as alcohol or gasoline.
    • Replace plastic or vinyl exhaust hoses with rigid or flexible metal venting.

For more information about dryer lint safety, see this article on our blog.

Did You Know?

AFCI and GFCI Outlets Improve Electrical Safety in Your Home

Advancements in electrical protection devices help keep homes and businesses safe. These devices include ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs). Both help prevent electrical shock and fires caused by erratic surges in electrical current.

GFCI outlets are designed to trip when they sense even a minor imbalance in current between the hot (black) and neutral (white) legs of an electrical circuit. They cut off power to the receptacle in a fraction of a second — fast enough to avoid a potentially fatal shock. Although requirements vary by location, GFCIs are generally found in kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages and other areas where water may be present, such as a workshop. GFCI outlets have test and reset buttons, and it’s a good idea to test them monthly to make sure they are operating properly.

AFCI outlets are designed to help prevent fires caused by arcing faults — erratic current flows that get hot enough fast enough to start a fire without ever tripping the breakers. In many areas, AFCIs are required on branch circuits that serve residential bedrooms in newly constructed homes. Existing structures are not required to have AFCIs, but it may be a good idea to look into having them installed in your home. A home inspector can help pinpoint areas where added safety measures such as AFCI or GFCI outlets could help protect your family.

From Our Blog

Proper Fireplace Venting: A Complex Issue

One of the most controversial issues with home construction has been proper fireplace ventilation. In an effort to prevent indoor air contamination and improve overall efficiencies within modern homes, the home envelopes have become tighter — meaning little to no air leaks between interior and exterior spaces. While the intentions were good, constructing a tight home has caused some other issues, such as poor air change ratios and controlling pressures between interior and exterior spaces. This has resulted in new technologies to provide controlled mechanical ventilation systems.

Click here to read the rest of the blog posts.

Monthly Trivia Question

What is the oldest building material that is still used today?

Be the first to answer correctly and win a $10 Starbucks gift card. Submit your answer to find out if you’ve won.

Home Alert: Most Common Residential Electrical Safety Hazards

A common electrical system includes the service drop, service panel, fuses or breakers, and a series of wires leading to every outlet in the home. The age of a home, installation practices, and wear and tear all can cause safety issues when it comes to electricity. A home inspector can help identify these problems to protect people living in the home. This article lists 10 of the most common electrical issues found during a home inspection.

One of the main goals of a home inspection is to uncover safety issues. The home inspector is trained to assess the condition and function of hundreds of components inside and outside the home, including the electrical system. A common electrical system includes the service drop, service panel, fuses or breakers and a series of wires leading to every outlet in the home. The following is a list of 10 common electrical problems reported during an NPI/GPI inspection:

  1. Ungrounded outlets – Grounding provides an emergency exit for electricity when it flows somewhere it shouldn’t. Two-pronged outlets found in some older houses include a live wire and a neutral wire but no ground. Inspectors commonly find two-pronged outlets have been replaced with the three-pronged outlets common today without a change to the wiring. This creates a false sense of security for homeowners. If installed properly, two-pronged outlets are acceptable when used with double-insulated appliances.
  2. Lack of GFCI protection – Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which help detect electrical leaks and shut off power to the protected circuit, are now required in new construction in high-moisture areas like the kitchen, garages or bathrooms. They are recommended for use in these areas in any home. These outlets are designed to help prevent shocks and include test and reset buttons that should be checked monthly.
  3. Faulty wiring in electrical panels – Electrical work should be completed by a licensed electrician, but many do-it-yourselfers will make their own modifications to the electrical panel, causing unsafe conditions. Double-tapping, splicing errors or the use of unsafe wiring materials or installation practices alls can cause a dangerous fire hazard.
  4. Outdated electrical wiring – Older electrical wiring, such as a knob and tube wiring installed from 1920 to 1950, is still found in some areas. The age of this wiring, possible deterioration and its capability to support current electrical loads is important to examine. Although the copper wires will support a normal workload, it is important to know if there is evidence of overfusing or overworking these wires. Overheating is possible if the wires are buried in insulation. Some insurance companies refuse to insure homes with knob and tube wiring or require an increase in premiums.
  5. Exposed wires – Individual electrical wires should be insulated. A protective sheathing wraps around insulated wires and creating the cable. The sheathing or insulation can be damaged by age, overheating or rodents, leading to shocks, sparking and possible fires.
  6. Overloaded electrical panel – As families grow, or amenities like a pool, spa or workshop are added, improper load may be placed on the electrical panel. Replacing, or upgrading the panel can cost several thousand dollars. In new construction, the minimum allowable panel size is 100 amps. Many older homes have 60-amp panels that can be easily overloaded.
  7. Oversized or undersized fuses or breakers – Fuses or breakers are used to prevent overheating at the service panel. They must be sized correctly to function correctly. Oversized breakers will not shut off electricity when overheating occurs. Undersized breakers will shut off power when the system is still safe.
  8. Moisture damage – Water is a good conductor of electricity. Electrical panels may be located anywhere in the house but should be kept free of water at all times. Outdoor electrical panels should be specially designed to prevent water intrusion and rust.
  9. Permanent use of extension cords – Extension cords are not meant to supply power permanently. They should not be fastened in place or concealed in walls, floors or ceilings.
  10. Poor location for a service panel – The area around the service panel and access to the main shutoff should be kept free of obstructions. Benches, boxes or other storage items in front of the panel may prevent someone from being able to access the shutoff in an emergency. The recommended clear-space area around an electrical panel is 36 inches out from the wall, 30 inches side to side around the panel and 6-8 feet up and down.