Calgary Home Inspection reveals a defect, or does it?
A short while ago, Global News asked me to speak about 60 AMP electrical service upgrades and the requirements for upgrading to 100 AMP service. As a subject matter expert, I appeared on Consumer Matters with Tony Tighe. You can watch the news clip below. In this case study, the home owner was trying to sell her home in Calgary. The buyer had a home inspection done, and the old 60 AMP electrical service was (rightfully so) pointed out as a defect in the home inspection report. The real estate deal fell apart because the buyer did not want to pay for the upgrade. Such upgrades typically costs from $1,500 to $4,000 to complete. On this episode of consumer matters, Tony Tighe is investigating why this real estate deal fell apart, and how home owners, buyers and sellers can protect themselves.
Although in some situations, homes can be safe with a 60 AMP service, it is important to upgrade your system to 100 AMPs to be eligible for home insurance.
Facts about Calgary building codes
60 AMP services were commonly installed in Calgary single family homes prior to the 1970’s. A 60 AMP service is one that allows a maximum electrical currant of 60 AMPs to be consumed at any given time. During the 1950’s and 1960’s, home owners used less power. Appliances are getting bigger and gas ranges are getting switched to electric ranges. Today, homes typically have more appliances then they did many years ago. The result is an increased demand for electricity. That is why the electrical building codes for single family homes switched in the 1970’s to require a minimum of 100 AMPs. Fast forward to 2017, and the concern is that old 60 AMP equipment is insufficient to safely supply the needed amount of electricity for modern homes.
If a 60 AMP service becomes overloaded, the main breaker should shut off. Notice I said it “should” shut off. If the old breaker is functioning properly, it “will” shut off, but as with any old equipment, it may fail. An old circuit breaker may fail in the open or the closed (on or off) position. During an overload situation, a main electrical breaker failing in the closed (on) position is extremely dangerous; the cables and equipment can heat up and become a fire hazard. In my experience, this is a very rare scenario and a breaker is more likely to fail in the open (off) position.
As a master electrician and Certified Professional Inspector I have seen many cases like this one. Many deals fall apart and many home buyers being denied insurance unless the electrical service is upgraded. In Calgary, many home owners are upgrading their 60 AMP services to 100 AMPs.
*If you are buying or selling a single family home in Calgary with an old 60 AMP electrical service, it will need to be upgraded. This is the current requirement for most home insurance companies. The only questions are, will the buyer or the seller pay for the upgrade, and will it be done before or after the sale. Whether you are looking to acquire a new home or sell your house, make sure you consult your home inspector for the guidance on your electrical systems.
PRO Home Inspectors Ltd.
DISCLOSURE: Myself or my companies did not preform any electrical work or inspections of any kind on this particular home.