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An Afternoon with the ESA Inspector

June 30th 2015

The other day I was required to meet an ESA inspector at a property to evaluate some wiring and make sure that everything was to code and safe. E.S.A. or Electrical Safety Authority is a provincial administrative authority that has powers and duties based on The Electricity Act and The Safety & Consumer Statutes Administration Act. In real estate we can run into a miriad of surprises, often during a home inspection. Aluminum Wiring, Aluminum/ Copper wiring, Knob and Tube wiring, size of electric panels, breakers/fuses, ungrounded wiring, reverse polarity and missing GFCI's (ground fault circuit interrupter - the switch that sometimes trips in your kitchen or bathroom and is placed around sinks & tubs). A lot of people think that if they see the ESA sticker on the Electric panel we are "good to go!" but that's not necessarily the case.  The inspector told me "Thats just my calling card. That just means I have been on site". In fact, once the inspector is called out he must put a sticker on the panel or sometimes near the section of the panel in question as proof of his visit. Each sticker bears a number which indicates which inspector has been present and when they retire so does their number. After that sticker is placed on the box the inspector inputs any deficiencies into a computer database so there is a record of any issues detected at the property and a letter goes out to the property owner or person who ordered the inspection detailing the deficiencies that must be remedied within a given time frame. If there is any question about the electrical work you need to contact the ESA to see if anything is outstanding.  The other thing that you may not know is that while the city can issue building permits, Electric permits are a function of the ESA and are Provincial. 

Permits and Fees
An electrical permit needs to be taken out before or within 48 hours of when the electrical work starts.
If you’re doing the electrical work, you need to take out the permit. If you hire someone, they must take out the permit. Do not take out a permit on behalf of a contractor or anyone else. Learn more about who is allowed to do electrical work in your home.
Electrical permits are not the same as a building permit. If you have a building permit, it doesn’t mean you have an electrical permit. In short, just because there are no outstanding building permits doesn't necessarily mean someone didn't require an electrical permit!
The fee for an electrical permit varies according to the type of work being done. 
To confirm permit requirements and to get your permit, call 1-877-ESA-SAFE (372-7233)
Another interesting fact he shared is that there are entire subdivions in London that are now being completely wired in Aluminum...becuase it's safe and it's cheaper than copper. New neighbourhoods in our city! 
As well he told me that just because something doesn't meet current code doesn't mean it requires a remedy. The inspectors have to consider the code at the time the work was done and if the system can operate safely and carry the load it is expected to. If not there may be some modifications required but not necessarily to the point of completely re-wiring a property.
If in doubt ask for an ESA certificate. If you get one of those it doesn't matter what you might think you know about electricity - everything is "good to go!"


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