Monthly Archives: September 2017

Home Electrical Inspections

As you probably know, there are certain moments in the life of your home when an electrical inspection will be required. These include the time of the initial electrical installation, before electricity can be supplied to the house; at the time of a permitted electrical upgrade; and at the time of a home purchase (as part of the four-point inspection required by nearly all home insurance companies). But even outside of these required times, a period home electrical inspection is a good idea to ensure that your electrical system is functioning safely and efficiently, in line with the standards set by the National Electrical Code (NEC). It’s an especially good idea to conduct an electrical inspection when you’re remodeling or adding a new electrical appliance, or if your home is over 40 years old.

Why Get A Home Electrical Inspection?

  • It’s the law! Although home electrical inspections are only mandatory at certain moments (like new construction, permitted renovations/upgrades, and as required by insurance companies for home purchases), keeping your home in compliance with NEC standards is required by law at all times. In the city of Scranton, for instance, violations of the NEC code carry penalties of $200 to $600 per day!
  • It helps prevent fires and electrocutions. The Electrical Safety Foundation (ESF) reports that electrical failures cause 43,900 home fires every year, resulting in 400 deaths, 1,400 injuries, and $1.5 billion in property damage. And the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) identifies small appliances plugged into inadequate/improper home wiring as the leading cause of accidental electrocutions. You can protect yourself from these hazards by routinely having your home electrical systems inspected to ensure everything is in proper condition.
  • It saves you money. Outdated and inefficient electrical systems mean wasted energy. And wasted energy means wasted money. Ensuring that your home electrical systems are up-to-date and functioning properly will save you money in the long run.

What Does a Home Electrical Inspection Cover?

To make sure that your home electrical system is safe and efficient, your electrical inspector will check the following:

  • Electrical Panels. Your inspector will ensure that your electrical panels are in good general condition, with matching breakers, no empty spaces, and proper wiring to meet your home’s needs, all with proper labels in place.
  • Electrical Boxes and Switches. All electrical boxes and switches should be flush with the wall, large enough to accommodate the amount of wire in them, and properly covered.
  • Wiring and Components. If your home makes use of outdated knob-and-tube or aluminum wiring, your electrical inspector will note these hazards and recommend upgrades. The inspector will also identify any outdated or degraded wiring and other electrical components, as well as wiring mistakes that may have been made by contractors or DIY homeowners.
  • Bulbs and Extension Cords. Some of the biggest fire hazards are small matters—like using bulbs with the wrong wattage, overloading plugs with multiple extension cords, or failing to use surge protectors. Your home electrical inspector will identify these types of hazards and recommend safer solutions.
  • Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors. Fire and carbon monoxide poisoning represent significant home hazards. But the detectors that protect you from these hazards are only good if they’re working properly. Your electrical inspector will check to make sure smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are properly installed and functioning.
  • Grounding and AFCIs. Whether in your main panel or in specific parts of your home (like the bathroom, kitchen, and garage), Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) break the circuit when an electrical arc is detected, helping to prevent fires. And proper grounding protects against current fluctuations. Your electrical inspector will make sure these safety measures are in place.
  • Appliances and Components. Electrical hazards may not be in your electrical system, but in the appliances and components you plug into it. Your electrical inspector will let you know if the things using electricity in your home are not functioning safely or efficiently.
  • Checklist for Upgrades and Repairs. Once your home electrical inspection is complete, your electrical inspector will provide you with a detailed report prioritizing needed repairs and recommended upgrades. The result will be a safer and more energy-efficient home for you and your family.

Electrical Permit Requirements

Do I Need a Permit?

The Pennsylvania Code (§403.42) requires that owners and/or agents apply for a permit whenever they intend to convert or replace any electrical system regulated by the Uniform Construction Code. According to the PA Code, this includes all electrical installation and upgrades, with the following exceptions:

  • Minor repair and maintenance work that includes the replacement of lamps or the connection of approved portable electrical equipment to approved permanently installed receptacles.
  • Electrical equipment used for radio and television transmissions. The provisions of the Uniform Construction Code apply to equipment and wiring for power supply and the installation of towers and antennas.
  • The installation of a temporary system for the testing or servicing of electrical equipment or apparatus.

Outside of these exceptions, permits are required by law.

Obtaining a Permit

In Pennsylvania, permits for electrical installation and upgrades are typically handled by the municipality in which the building is located. In Scranton, contact the Department of Licensing, Inspections and Permits on weekdays, between 8:00 am and 3:30 pm, at (570) 348-4193. (Permit applications may be submitted on weekdays up to 4:30 pm, but those submitted after 3:30 pm will not be processed until the next business day.) The Department issues decisions on commercial permits within 30 days, and residential permits within 15 days, so it’s important to apply for your permit well in advance of the date on which you plan to commence work. Failure to obtain a permit when required results in the fee for the job being doubled.

According to Scranton Code §215-3, upon filing of the written application and payment of the required fee, a permit will be issued in duplicate to the electrical contractor (or person making the application). One copy of this permit must be conspicuously displayed on the premises where the work is being done, and it must remain in place until the work has been inspected and approved by either the electrical underwriters agency or the Electrical Inspector of the City of Scranton.


In submitting drawings as part of the permit application process in the City of Scranton, the following are required:

  • Location of electrical devices: lighting, receptacles, switches, equipment, appliances, transformers, panels, and subpanels
  • Size and type conductors
  • Panel and subpanel schedule


Home and business lighting systems are not something you want to have to think about; that’s our job! From designing just the right lighting system for your home or business to keeping it properly maintained for optimal performance and efficiency, we worry about lighting maintenance so you don’t have to.


As with any part of your home or business life, when it comes to lighting you want more bang for your buck. In lighting terms, that means delivering more lumens per watt (LPW). Achieving that goal is, in part, a matter of having the right equipment. Our experienced team can perform a lighting audit to determine which parts of your current system are operating efficiently and which parts are costing you more money than they should. Where appropriate, we’ll help you to upgrade to energy-efficient LED lighting—from selecting the right fixtures, to engineering services, and on to installation. We handle initial lighting design, custom retrofits, and ongoing servicing to make sure you have the most efficient equipment and that it’s working to its full potential.

Operations and Management

Having the right equipment is only the first part of an efficient, cost-effective lighting system. Just like car maintenance, lighting maintenance causes you fewer headaches and costs you less money when you’re being proactive and not just responding to things that go wrong. Take light bulbs, for instance. An effective lighting maintenance program will get maintenance costs under control by staying ahead of burned-out bulbs. And our experienced team will see to proper disposal of old bulbs to ensure safety.

Did you know that some bulbs lose a significant amount of their brightness over time? When that happens, you’re paying for more watts just to get the same amount of light. And then there’s cleaning. Just keeping your lighting fixtures properly cleaned and maintained helps ensure your lighting dollars aren’t being wasted.

With a proper lighting maintenance program in place, you’ll keep your lighting systems at peak performance for the life of your building. Call us for a lighting system audit to determine where we can save you money on your energy bill.