In your lifetime, your home will be your biggest investment. As a result, billions of dollars are spent on homeowner’s insurance each year. However, while most homes are protected for losses from fires or floods, the average homeowner does not give much thought to the problems that can result from electrical issues. Unfortunately, wiring and electricity are hidden within the walls and are often overlooked.
This is especially true in the case of older homes. Wiring and electrical standards change over time as does a homeowner’s use of the home’s electricity. A house that was wired as recently as the 1990s may not meet the electrical needs of the family today without placing stress on the wiring, outlets, and panels. Even if your home was inspected prior to purchase it is an excellent idea to have a professional electrician perform an in-depth assessment of the overall electrical system.
If you have purchased a home that has received an overall approval, you should review your insurance policy to see what is provided in the case of an unexpected electric fire or ‘blowout’ of the system. Experts suggest that home wiring should be replaced every decade. Hidden wear and tear place homes in peril for potential problems.
Examples of warning signs include flickering lights, or a slight burning odor near an outlet in which an appliance is plugged in. An insurance assessor has been trained to look for certain clues to the reliability of your electrical system during their walk-through. For example, they will check the number of outlets and note if they are two or three pronged. The examiner will plug in an appliance in different parts of the home to see if it sparks or if there seems to be another issue (perhaps the appliance takes a moment before turning on).
If you see any signs of electrical issues at any time, unplug all appliances in the area of the problem and contact a licensed electrician. They are training to perform an evaluation of the home’s wiring, outlets, electrical panel and connections to the electrical source.
Remember, the things you can’t see in your home are as important as the ones you can see! Take the time to work with a professional electrician and home insurer to guarantee you are covered for electrical problems. More importantly, acting proactively will better ensure you prevent problems with your home’s electricity.