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Top Electrical Issues to Consider Before You Buy a Home


Buying a home represents the most significant investment most people make in their lifetime. As such, if you’re in the home buying-market, you should carefully inspect all components of a prospective home purchase to ensure that they are in working order and will meet your household needs.

Your prospective home’s electrical system is one of its most essential components and warrants close inspection to ensure safety, capacity, and operational soundness. This will not likely be a concern if you’re looking at a newer home. However, as the technicians at Meeks Electrical Services can tell you, many older homes in the Tallahassee area have outdated electrical systems that are deficient in capacity and potentially unsafe.

Read on to learn how to inspect an electrical system when considering a home purchase. Know that some issues can be corrected with relative ease and limited expense, while others may require complete re-wiring of the house. However, major electrical problems don’t have to be a deal-breaker, especially if you have fallen in love with an older home. By calling attention to the problem, you might be able to negotiate a price that accounts for the electrical system deficiencies and use the money saved to conduct electrical system refurbishment.

Will the Home Serve Your Electrical Needs?

While new homes today are typically wired for 220- to 240-volt capacity, decades ago, 110-volt was the standard capacity. Likewise, many older homes’ circuit panels only deliver 100 or less amperes and may not have enough circuits to meet all of your electrical needs. With so many electrical appliances and conveniences, most typical homes today need a minimum 220-volt capacity that can deliver at least 200-amps through 15 to 20 circuits on the electrical panel.

In a related vein, check each room for the number of outlets it has. In most cases, one or two outlets in a primary room will not adequately serve your electrical needs, and you will not want to rely too much on extension cords and power strips.

Uncovering Electrical Issues and Problems

Whether you’re considering an older house or a newer one, some readily apparent electrical issues will warrant closer inspection if found. Again, some issues may be easily fixed, while others may require more extensive work. If you’re unsure how to resolve a particular issue, consider hiring an experienced electrician, like those at Meeks, to conduct a thorough electrical system inspection.

If you’re looking at a home built before 1950, you should first look for knob and tube wiring, which is incompatible with electrical devices requiring three-pronged plugs. Not only can this type of wiring cause damage to some electrical devices, but it also represents a distinct fire hazard. You can usually identify knob and tube wiring by looking in the basement or attic, where you might see exposed black-and-white wiring that runs through small porcelain tubes. While few older homes in the Tallahassee area still have knob and tube wiring, if you come across it, re-wiring the house should be mandatory and part of the sales negotiations if you’re planning to make an offer.

Likewise, if the home’s electrical system relies on fuses rather than circuit breakers, it’s time to upgrade it with a new circuit breaker box. Older circuit breaker boxes should also be replaced if they show signs of deterioration and/or have a jumble of exposed stray wiring. At the same time, you should check the wiring. If it’s aluminum, replacing it with copper wiring should be added to any sales price negotiations with the seller.

Other obvious electrical problems that will warrant a more detailed inspection include:

  • Any lights that flicker
  • Buzzing noises
  • Electrical odors
  • Exposed wiring
  • Two-hole (ungrounded) outlets
  • Scorch or burn marks on outlets
  • Outlets that are warm to the touch
  • Sparking or arcing when you flick a switch or plug something into an outlet
  • Lack of ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets in kitchen and bathroom

Turn to Meeks for Your Home Buying Electrical Inspection

If you’ve discovered your dream home, ensure your peace of mind by having its electrical system inspected by professional electricians before you make an offer. Meeks Electrical Services has conducted Tallahassee-area inspections on behalf of prospective home buyers for more than four decades. We know what issues to look for and can tell you what it will take to ensure that your dream home safely provides all your electrical needs. To make an appointment, contact us online or call (850) 575-3201.