An electrical home inspection is recommended by the Electrical Safety Foundation if a) a home is purchased, b) if it is 30 years or older, c) if new electrical appliance is installed or d) if the home undergoes an extensive renovation. This is because the electrical system of your home can trigger electrical hazards if treated carelessly.
Some simple measures can ensure peace of mind in terms of electrical safety. For instance, ensuring that the right kind of electrical outlets are used, periodic inspections of the various construction electrical materials and products are conducted, etc. This electrical safety guide can help you safeguard your property and your loved ones from electrical hazards. Let’s take a look:
Electrical materials such as cables and electrical service panel are vital elements. The electrical cables are often subjected to constant fluctuations and overloads which cause the insulation to wear out over time. When in use, the current flowing through these cables can reach hazardous values and may result in severe shocks or fires. The quality of these cables can be checked by measuring the resistance offered by them. The wiring and cabling should conform to your local building codes and the regulations of National Electrical Code.
Regular inspection of every electrical installation is important because they tend to deteriorate with usage and time. Damaged or bad contacts in parts increase the risk of sparks and may result in electrical fires. Even though electrical materials such as cables have primary insulation, external exposure to fire or internal overheating can trigger a fire. Periodic safety checks should inspect the following:
- Earthing / grounding arrangements
- Installation of grounding devices
- Wiring circuit and insulation of power cables
- Extent of depreciation in electrical components
- Continuity of conductors
Insulation resistance and the resulting current should be measured for any unusual fluctuations. An insulation tester should be used to eliminate dangerous effects of grounding faults and short circuits. This tester can also help verify the integrity of power cables for identifying insulation failures. The test is to be conducted between active and protective conductors by connecting them to the earthing arrangement. A low resistance indicates leakage which may prove fatal if a Residual Current Device or RCD is not used for protection.
Some of the basic practices you need to follow for ensuring electrical safety are as follows:
- Every piece of equipment, machine and device should be appropriately grounded and double insulated
- No outlet should be overloaded
- Electrical equipment should never be handled with wet hands
- Power strips should be placed in well-ventilated areas for adequate heat dispersion
- Grounded cords should never be plugged into ungrounded outlets
- Electrical cords should never be knotted or hidden under carpets
- Appropriate electrical wires and cables, couplers and connectors should be used to join lengths instead of taping
- Replace any cord which is cracked, twisted, frayed or damaged
- If a RCD trips, the entire system should be inspected for flaws before it is made functional again. If the device trips frequently, a professional technician should be hired to inspect it
- In case any equipment is emitting sparks or is smoking, has an abnormally hot surface or is making unusual sounds, disconnect the power immediately and have it inspected by a professional electrician
Electrical hazards are responsible for causing extensive damage to property and human life. Fortunately, these hazards can be prevented with some precaution and periodic inspections.