Your home inspector has a lot of things to review on their checklist, but do you know exactly what they are looking at when inspecting the electrical panel?
Your house's electrical service can vary in size significantly, and it's going to directly effect how much energy you can use in your house at once. If the home you're looking at has a 200 amp service, for instance, that's a pretty good rating and it means you can run many different appliances at once. On the other hand, if your house has a 60 amp service, you aren't going to have enough power to run your electric stove, hot water heater, and hair dryer all at once. That can lead to a serious issue of convenience that can take away from your home's comfort.
As such, your home inspector is definitely going to be looking at your electrical box. As they do so, they are going to be looking at multiple things. First, they will be checking its service rating so that they can tell you what it is. In order to size the electrical service, the home inspector is going to be looking over the primary components of the electrical distribution system. This means the wire, the conduit, the panel, the meter, and the main breaker all need to be checked.
While your home inspector goes through to check these things, they will be measuring them to identify what component has the lowest amperage rating. The rating of this component determines overall electric service rating of the home. If it comes back with a high number, your home inspector will probably give it the go-ahead and say it's all good if you choose to get the home. However, if it comes back with a low number, your home inspector will raise that as a potential issue.
Although you might really love the home you are considering, if the home inspection reveals a low electrical service rating, like one under 100 amps, you might face some serious issues in your day-to-day life at the home. If it's just you, maybe it won't be a big deal, but once you get 2-3 people or more who are going to be in the house at once, you might constantly find yourself flipping the breaker switch.
For instance, with a low service rating, you'll struggle to run multiple kitchen appliances at once, which can make cooking hard. If you want to turn on the blender while someone else is using the toaster and something else is on the stove, that could easily trip a breaker. Likewise, if someone's using kitchen appliances to cook breakfast as the water heater runs to fill back up after your shower and you're now styling your hair, that might be enough to trip a breaker too.
If a home inspector tells you that a house has a low service rating, you need to quickly consider all the electric appliances generally running in your house at once. Do you run fans? Heaters or air conditioners? Televisions? Entertainment systems? Kitchen appliances? All of these things eat away quickly at the available electricity.
The Author Adam Clark is the owner and operator of Shield Guard Home Inspections. Adam Clark is a local Home Inspector located in Albany NY that has performed over 6000 Inspections
Phone: (518) 720-7152