Updated: Feb 18
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Electrical problems in your rental property are one of those issues you don’t want to try and cut corners around. As much as electricity powers almost every device we use in the home, it also poses a potential danger to the house and the people who live in it. Many of the house fires that happen every year in America are caused by electrical malfunctions that could have been perfectly avoided.
The problem with electricity is that you cannot see it. Unlike plumbing problems, where you can easily detect the telltale signs of water damage, identifying issues with the electrical system in the home is not so easy. Most of the components of the system are hidden inside the walls of your house, where they can get damaged and leave no indications of the ongoing problem.
Given the deadly nature of electrical problems, you don’t want to wait until problems become obvious before you act. By the time a problem becomes evident, it may have resulted in irreparable property damage. That’s aside from the fact that undetected electrical problems routinely put the occupants of a home at risk of electric shocks, burns, or even death.
How do you stay ahead of electrical problems in your rental property? The key is to be proactive in your bid to prevent problems. Rather than waiting to be alerted to the presence of an electrical malfunction, you should actively seek them out. This means having the mindset that things can go wrong at any time and keeping a lookout to ensure they do not.
Here are some of the ways that you can do this.
How to tell if your rental property needs an electrician
1. Obsolete wiring
If your property is more than 40 years old, the wiring will probably be out of code. The problem is not only with the condition of the wires, but the capacity of the entire system. Even if the electrical system still seems to be in perfect condition, it is a disaster waiting to happen.
2. Frayed wiring
The presence of frayed or chewed-up wiring means you need the services of an electrician asap. This is going to be the case if you have an ongoing or past problem with rodents in the home. Remember to remove the pests before replacing the wires or the problem will repeat.
3. Burning smells
The smell of burning rubber or heated metal is a sign that a wire is burning and the synthetic coating on it is incinerated. Most times when this happens, you will not be able to pinpoint the source of the smell precisely. That’s because the wire is often inside a wall. Burning wires are a fire hazard.
4. Scorched or sparking switches and outlets
Power outlets and light switches that display scorch marks or discolorations tell you that the wires behind them are burning. Sometimes, the switch or outlet may not be scorched; it will only be warm to the touch. You also have problems if a switch or outlet sparks when in use.
5. Flickering light bulbs
There are many possible causes of this problem. It could be the result of faulty wiring or circuit overload. A loose bulb or the wrong kind of bulb could also cause the problem. If the issue is widespread across the home, the problem could be from the wiring.
6. Regular breaker tripping
Circuit breakers are designed to trip when the electrical system in the home is overloaded. This is a safety precaution that helps prevent fires and damage to appliances. If there are frequent breaker trips in the home, there is a problem that’s making it happen.
7. Blown fuses
Just like circuit breakers, blow fuses also act as a safeguard. But unlike a circuit breaker trip, a blown fuse typically affects only one part of the home. This problem is caused by overloading, damaged wiring, electrical arcs, problems in the circuit breaker, and using the wrong fuse.
8. Noisy electrical panels
Electrical panels that hum and crackle are a serious problem. This equipment is designed to work without making any noise. If the panel is making noises, it means something inside it is burning or sparking. A noisy electrical panel should be treated as a matter of grave urgency.
9. Routine inspections and tenant orientation
This is not a problem but a way to prevent problems. Given that tenants are closer to the home than you are, they should be your first line of defense against electrical problems. Orient your tenants on how to detect problems with the home’s electrical systems. Also, arrange to inspect the electrical system at least once a year.
10. Get an electrical evaluation
This will tell you the current standing of your rental property’s electrical systems. You will know which components are nearing the end of their life, which ones are obsolete already, or which ones are substandard and need to be replaced immediately. An electrical evaluation gives you an overview of the entire system.