Are you thinking about buying a new house? Are you trying to figure out how to decide if a "fixer-upper" is worth your time? Many houses listed as fixer-uppers only need cosmetic work, but others are more serious. Before you waste time with submitting a bid and paying for a full home inspection, here are some common electrical issues that you should be able to spot, if they exist:

Crowded junction or fuse box: While it will take a qualified electrician to verify if a fuse box is wired correctly, badly wired fuse boxes can be easy to spot. If you open up the fuse box and it looks like it's been literally stuffed with a tangled mass of wires, there is probably something wrong. A past homeowner may have tried to do electrical work on his or her own, adding even more wires to the system. Unfortunately, electrical wires generate heat when in use. If too many wires are crowded into an area and too many appliances or fixtures are turned on, the wires can start to overheat, melt, and cause a fire. If the wires look dangerous, have a professional take a look so that you know what you're getting into.

Improper stapling: Check the attic for exposed wiring and examine the staples that hold them in place. The wires should be held snugly in place, without the staples pressing into the plastic insulation. If the staples were hammered in too far, so that they are pinching the insulation, they can eventually break through and cause a short. While you may not need an electrician to fix this issue, you may need to hire one if the insulation shows signs of tearing already. He or she will replace the damaged wires, preventing potential problems.

Spliced wires: This can be harder to spot, but can be glaringly obvious if there are wires coming from somewhere that they're not supposed to be. For example, a previous owner may have spliced an extension cord into a ceiling light fixture in the garage, instead of paying for a proper outlet to be added. Another dangerous, but commonly used, piece of wiring is often called a suicide cord. This is an extension cord that has been modified to have prongs on both ends, instead of prongs on one end and a receptacle on the other. If you see one of these in use on the property, you will need to hire an electrician to undo these so-called fixes. If you need help, contact a business such as Lowry Services: Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling.