There are a wide variety of electrical systems with an even wider variety of components, and any one particular system may not conform to current standards or provide the same degree of service and safety. What is most significant about electrical systems however is that the National Electrical Code is not retroactive, and therefore many electrical systems do not comply with the latest safety standards. It is important to remember that electricity is dangerous, and is best evaluated by a specialist and not a generalist. Inspectors are generalists, and do not perform load-calculations to see if the supply equals the demand, nor remove circuit breakers or cover plates to inspect concealed components. Therefore, in the interests of safety, every electrical deficiency and recommended upgrade should be regarded as a potential safety-hazard that should be serviced as soon as conveniently possible by a licensed specialist.
A limited visual inspection of the following components are within the scope of practice and should be considered essential to any home inspection.
The inspector shall inspect:
The service drop;
The overhead service conductors and attachment point;
The service head, gooseneck and drip loops;
The service mast, service conduit and raceway;
The electric meter and base;
The main service disconnect;
Panelboards and over-current protection devices (circuit breakers and fuses);
Service grounding and bonding;
A representative number of switches, lighting fixtures and receptacles, including receptacles observed and deemed to be arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI)-protected using the AFCI test button, Where possible;
All ground-fault circuit interrupter receptacles and circuit breakers observed and deemed to be GFCIs using a GFCI tester, where possible; presence or absence of smoke and carbon-monoxide detectors.