Electrical problems in a rental property may not happen often, but when they do, they are a cause for concern. That is partly because many things in the home run on electricity and electrical problems can be dangerous. They are one of the significant sources of fires in rental homes.
There are around 50,000 fires every year caused by preventable electrical malfunctions. And many of these fires are in rental properties. Every landlord wants to avoid the trouble that accompanies an electrical fire incident in a rental home, and it is possible to do so.
That’s because most electrical accidents begin as minor problems with telltale signs. People often ignore these signs because those who should solve them don’t understand their meaning or underestimate the problem’s extent. As King George Property Management Solutions explains, this is why many landlords find themselves dealing with costly electrical issues rather than preventing them.
All it takes to keep most of these issues from becoming major problems is a little attention. But to protect their property and tenants from electrical hazards, landlords must know how to identify the signs of impending electrical problems.
The warning signs of an underlying electrical problem
1. Warm or sparking outlets/switches
If power outlets spark when you use them or become warm or very hot during use, it means there is a problem with the wiring or the device needs replacement. The same applies if sparks are coming from a fuse box or breaker panel, but the problem could be more significant.
2. Flickering lights
Lights may flicker for different reasons. It may be because of energy-thirsty appliances making enormous demands on the electrical systems. If the flickering is isolated, it could be a problem with the lamp itself. But if it is widespread, there may be a problem with the home’s wiring.
3. Burning smells and strange odors
The first time you power new appliances, they may emit a strange odor. But if the odor from an outlet/appliance is persistent, you should have an electrician look at them. Conversely, treat all burning smells with the distinct odor of burnt plastic as an emergency. This is usually a sign that there has been a small fire inside the walls of the home.
4. Buzzing sounds
Buzzing, crackling, sizzling, or hissing sounds from outlets, switches, appliances, breakers, or panels are signs of problems with the device or its wiring. These sounds are created by sparks happening inside the device but which are hidden from the eyes. Treat them as an emergency.
5. Tripping circuit breakers
Tripping events are not a problem but indicate that there may be a problem. Breakers trip when a circuit is overloaded or overheating; it is a safeguard against fire. Occasional circuit trips due to simple overloads are normal. But if they are frequent, there is a problem. There is a problem if an appliance trips the circuit when it is plugged into any home outlet. And if an outlet constantly blows its fuse, it is a sign of deeper problems.
6. Arc faults
An arc fault is a high power discharge between electrical conductors, which generates a lot of heat and may result in an electrical fire. They are the main cause of fire outbreaks in homes. Many of the signs discussed above happen as a result of arc faults. The best way to deal with arc faults is to prevent them with an arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI).
7. Outdated wiring and counterfeit electrical products
Electrical products that are not up to the government or industry standards cause electrical fires in homes. But even good products will become a hazard if you use them beyond the end of their life expectancy. If the wiring in a rental has become frayed and exposed, they increase the home’s risk of electrical disasters.
8. Unreliable light switches and outlets
Loose or broken outlets and light switches are potential sources of electric shocks. But if light switches and power outlets are in good condition yet function intermittently, it could be a sign that the wiring behind the switch, outlet, or inside the wall has come loose.
9. Rodent problems
Rodents have a habit of chewing on wires and electrical components in a home. If the rental has a past or ongoing rodent infestation, there is a high probability that the house’s wiring would have been chewed. Frayed and damaged wires are a hazard.
Finally, some problems happen so deep inside the electrical systems that there are no external signs. In order to prevent such issues, it is necessary to have an electrical evaluation done every five years. If your rental property has not had an electrical evaluation in the last 5-10 years, then it is time to get one.