Electrical things to check before buying a house.

Buying a home is one of the most significant investments one can make. Beyond the property’s aesthetic appeal and structural integrity, ensuring the electrical components are safe and up-to-date is vital. Overlooking the electrical components can lead to safety concerns, unexpected repair costs, and potential inconveniences.

Here’s a guide on some electrical things to inspect before sealing the deal on a new home.

Main Electrical Panel:

  • Check the condition of the main panel. It should be free of rust or any signs of water damage.
  • Ensure it’s labelled clearly and appropriately. This helps in identifying which circuit corresponds to which part of the house.
  • Look for outdated panels, which may need to be updated or pose a fire hazard.

Circuit Breakers and Fuses:

  • Modern homes should predominantly use circuit breakers. While still functional, fuses are considered outdated and may suggest the electrical system needs to be updated.
  • Breakers should not trip when devices are used normally. Frequent tripping can indicate an overloaded circuit or potential defect.
  • Breakers should only trip occasionally. If they trip frequently, it may indicate an overloaded circuit. 

See if the house has an RCD installed:

An RCD (Residual Current Device) is a life-saving device to prevent you from getting a fatal electric shock. It works by detecting an imbalance in the electrical flow and swiftly cutting off the electricity.

When inspecting a house for an RCD, here’s what you can do:

  • Locate the Main Electrical Panel: This is typically a metal box containing circuit breakers or fuses. It may be in a utility room, garage, basement, or an external wall.
  • Inspect for the RCD: Once the main panel is open, look for a device with a test button, often labelled “T” or “Test.” This is typically an indication of an RCD. Some RCDs will have a label or sticker indicating they are an RCD or provide the rated tripping current, usually 30mA. RCDs may look similar to regular circuit breakers but have the added test functionality.
  • To learn more about RCD’s read: “RCD’s the lifesaving device every home should have.”

Outlets and Switches:

  • Switches should operate lights or devices smoothly. Listen for buzzing sounds and watch for flickering—both can indicate underlying issues.
  • Ensure all switches activate their corresponding light or appliance.


  • All visible wiring should be insulated without any signs of fraying, damage, or DIY patches.
  • Note the type of wiring. If the home was constructed before the 1960s and has yet to be updated, it might have knob-and-tube or aluminium wiring, which can pose a fire safety risk.

Light Fixtures:

  • All fixtures should work without any flickering.
  • Inspect the condition of the fixtures. Older fixtures might not be compatible with modern, energy-efficient bulbs.
  • Ensure all fixtures are securely mounted and free from visible damage.

Electrical Capacity:

  • Confirm the home’s electrical service capacity, typically measured in amperes. Modern homes require 100 to 200 amps to handle everyday devices and appliances.
  • Houses with lower capacity might struggle to support multiple modern appliances simultaneously.

Grounding System:

  • Ensure the house has an effective grounding system. This is vital for preventing electrical shocks.

Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors:

  • Check the placement and working condition of all detectors. They should be located in bedrooms, hallways, and nearby combustion appliances.
  • Ensure they are within their expiration date, as detectors usually need replacement every 7-10 years.

Surge Protectors:

  • For homes prone to electrical storms or power surges, check if a whole-house surge protector is installed.

External Factors:

  • Consider the location of overhead power lines, which should be away from trees and other obstructions.
  • Ensure exterior outlets and lights (e.g., in the garden or garage) have weatherproof covers.
  • Look for weatherproofing measures on outdoor outlets and fixtures.
  • If the property has a pool or hot tub, their electrical systems should also be inspected for safety.

Signs of DIY Fixes:

  • Amateur or DIY electrical fixes can be hazardous. Look for signs of non-professional work and consider having these areas inspected by a professional.

Consult a Professional:

  • When in doubt, always enlist the expertise of a licensed electrician. A comprehensive electrical inspection can reveal issues that might not be obvious to the untrained eye.

In conclusion, while the aesthetics of a home can easily charm many buyers, pay attention to the importance of a safe and modern electrical system. Before finalising your home purchase, ensure you’ve conducted a thorough electrical inspection to avoid future safety hazards and costly repairs.

While the cosmetic features of a house might be easily renovated or changed, rectifying electrical issues can be expensive and disruptive. It’s always better to be informed before making a final decision. 

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Allphase can provide a detailed report and recommend necessary upgrades.

If you have any doubts about the electrical condition of the house, always consult a licensed electrician to conduct a thorough inspection.

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