Electrical inspections are carried out to ensure that the wiring and electrical components in a building meet the standards of the regulatory authority in a country or state. Because the electrical wiring in a building could have an effect on its neighbours, as well as pose a health risk to its occupants, it must be regulated and controlled. Safety is the primary focus of electrical inspections.
There are several things that an inspector will check for while a building is being built. In most cases, multiple inspections are done, with a final one at the end of construction.
There are many things that could cause a building to fail and inspection. Here are some of the more common ones:
• Electrical boxes being skew, rather than flush with a wall. Electrical boxes are the central point of the electrical system in a building. It is essential that they are installed correctly.
• Electrical boxes being too small for the amount of wires that are attached to them. As with incorrect mounting, using the wrong size electrical box can cause serious issues. If there are too many wires attached to the box, it can result in electrical fires.
• Electrical boxes being loosely fitted. The electrical box needs to be tightly fastened to the wall it is installed in. If it is loose, movement can dislodge wires and trip the system.
• Wires incorrectly attached to the electrical box. As with a loose box, loose or incorrectly installed wires can become dislodged and trip the system or cause fires.
• Too little reserve wiring available in the electrical box. Reserve wiring is used when a replacement box is installed. If there is insufficient wire, it will be very difficult to safely install a new box.
• Incorrectly labelled wires. All of the wires to and from the electrical box should be clearly labelled. This will help with fault finding and repairs.
• Non-isolated power outlets. If there are delicate electrical appliances in use, it is important to have them on an isolated circuit in order to avoid damage. If there is a power surge or the power is tripped, having delicate electronics on a separate circuit can save them from being destroyed.
• Incorrect work permits. If an electrician has not submitted the proper documentation needed to begin work on a project, it may fail inspection.
• Outlets being at the incorrect height. There are rules governing the placement of electrical outlets. They must be at a certain height off the floor in order to be safe.
• Incorrect anchoring on wires. The wires used in the walls of a building need to be secured with the correct types of anchors. The anchors also need to be placed at the correct distance from each other. This helps reduce wear and tear on the wires themselves. If the wrong anchor is used it might crush the wires. If they are too far apart, the wires will droop and could be pulled out of their sockets eventually.
• Incorrect wire usage. Different wires will have different capabilities. If a wire too small to allow the correct flow of electricity, it will eventually become damaged and stop working all together.
• Poor insulation. Every wire that is installed needs to be insulated correctly. If a wire has poor insulation, it could easily start a fire.
• Incorrect circuit breaker. There are 3 types of circuit breaker, Standard, Ground Fault and Arc Fault. The correct circuit breaker needs to be used where applicable so that it can function properly.
• Lack of neutral wires on switches and plugs. In order to reduce the potential damage of a power surge, neutral wires must be fitted to all switches.
• Lack of tamper resistant outlets. All of the electrical outlets in a building must have the safety catch that ensures that nothing but the correct plug can be inserted.
• Incorrect outdoor outlet covers. In order to minimise the risk of water damage to outdoor electrical outlets, they must have the correct waterproof cover attached.
• Covered or hidden service panel. The service panel on the electrical box needs to be clearly visible and accessible. This is so that in the event of potential hazard, residents and visitors can cut the power to the affected area.
• Too few outlets. According to the size of the building and the rooms inside it, there are a minimum number of electrical outlets that will need to be available. If there are too few, there is a good chance that residents will use too many extension leads and trip the system.
• Incorrect clamps used on cables. In some cases, clamps designed for plumbing pipes are used on electrical cables. These clamps can crush the wires inside the cables or damage the insulation.