Operating as electrician in San Antonio, the All Star Electric team routinely performs electrical inspections in San Antonio and its metro area. On that day, we pulled up to a large residence in Helotes, on the north-west side of the city. The homeowners were putting their property up for sale and had chosen our electrical company to perform their electrical inspection. We actually had been recommended by their realtor, with whom we had worked on several house remodeling projects over the past few years.
Our mission was clear: conduct a thorough examination of the electrical installation, make any necessary repairs, and provide an electrical safety certification.
We had our inspection checklist ready, detailing everything from the electrical panel to the outlets. Our team consisted of 2 specialists: M***, senior electrician, directly in the field; S***, permit and documentation expert; lastly, the team reports to their manager, who oversees the mission from our offices.
First on the agenda was a meeting with the homeowners and their real estate agent, L***. Our electrician, M***, sat down in the spacious living room to discuss the scope of the inspection. L*** was concerned with passing inspection. A pre-sale inspection is routine when people put up a home for sale in San Antonio.
The homeowners agreed that any small repair job detected during our inspection would automatically be done with an itemization of parts and material, and any major repair necessary would have to be estimated and approved by them. But because of the timeline with the realtor’s open house day only days away, we would combine inspection and repairs instead of doing the inspection first, then the repairs after delivering our inspection report and offering an estimate.
After the meeting, we started to calculate the electrical load requirement of the house, and headed straight to the electrical panel. It was a standard 200-amp model. Our initial calculations showed us that it had become underpowered for the household’s current needs. The owners had remodeled their home a couple times since the original purchase, expanding the original 2-car garage to add a workshop. There they had installed a couple of power-hungry including a small lathe for woodturning.
It’s not that the builders had installed the wrong panel. Tract houses come with standard electrical features that match the typical load requirements of an average family. But when you install a lathe and some other heavy electrical equipment, you are likely to exceed the capacity of the panel when multiple appliances are pulling current at the same time. So we offered the owners to install a new 300-amp panel — enough capacity to handle the extra load of the workshop, which they agreed upon.
Next, M*** moved to the attic. There, the smell hit him first: rats. Rats are bad news for electrical. Sure enough, he found the sheathing of some cables had been chewed out, creating a fire hazard and a risk of electrocution. A whole section would need rewiring. He ran some tests to find the breakers, flipped them off, and marked them as they weren’t properly tagged.
While he started on the rewiring, S*** was in the office calling the county officials to pull a permit on the electric panel. She got done with the necessary paperwork in a couple hours. As long as we give them what they need, Bexar County is pretty efficient at working with professionals.
The rewiring was a routine job. The old NM sheathed cabling was up to code, M*** didn’t need to change anything. He just used the same type, and ensured all connections were properly tightened and insulated. The risk of fire with naked wires in a hot attic with blown-in insulation is extremely high.
While Romex cables typically don’t attract rats, it wasn’t the case here. Those rats must have been hungry. The risk of electrocution with exposed wires is also high as the attic space is typically cramped, and people brush against the rafters when they move around.
With these tasks crossed off our checklist, M*** proceeded to inspect the outlets, switches, and light fixtures throughout the house. He found a couple violations, such as outdated outlets in the laundry room that needed to be replaced with the GFCI type. State regulations changed since the house was originally purchased, and GFCI have been mandated where they were not mandatory before.
After he crossed off all other items from our electrical inspection checklist, S*** prepared the electrical safety certification paperwork, detailing all the work done and confirming that the house met all current electrical codes. We forwarded the certification to the Realtor, who scheduled the pre-sale inspection.
Several days later, the inspection was scheduled. On the day of the inspection, M*** arrived early to do a final walkthrough, double-checking the inspection checklist, ensuring that everything was in order. No licensed electrician wants to be given a “partially passed” report by a city inspector.
The inspector arrived soon after, and we provided all the necessary documentation. He did a thorough final inspection for 2 hours, and gave us a pass.
Our work wasn’t done just yet. We prepared a comprehensive report of the electrical inspection for insurance purposes. This report is a detailed document, outlining all the work we had done, complete with photographs and technical specifications. This report was provided to the homeowners and their Realtor.
About the author: All Star Electric is an electrical contractor in Antonio, TX. The company specializes in electrical remodeling, conversion of home electrical systems to energy-efficient systems, installation and upgrade of electrical panels, and any electrical repair work. The team of All Star Electric is also a Tesla Certified Installer of Level 1 and Level 2 chargers.