August 2021: Rent or Own

 

Considering a new home or apartment? Check out electrical concerns too

Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power wants to remind you that it is important to keep electrical safety concerns in mind when considering a new home or apartment.

Whether you are renting or buying, the process of looking for a house, condo or apartment can be overwhelming, especially for young people moving out on their own or new families ready to relocate to larger places. Along with looking for a good value, the right neighborhood or curb appeal, it’s also a good idea to look for signs of potential electrical trouble before making a home buying or renting decision.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, electrical failures or malfunctions are present in an estimated average of 47,000 home structure fires per year in the United States, which result in 430 deaths, 1,280 injuries, and $1.5 billion in property damage. Based on figures from the National Center for Biotechnology Information, electrical injuries in general cause approximately 1,000 deaths per year in the U.S.

Aside from having a professional electrical inspection completed, look for the following warning signs of larger electrical safety hazards before signing on the dotted line:

  • Outlets and light switches that are warm to the touch.
  • Outlets that are loose, scorched or discolored.
  • Wall or light switches that cause shocks upon contact.
  • Strange smells (such as something burning or overheating).
  • Smoke or sparks.
  • Exposed wires.
  • Lack of GFCIs (ground fault circuit interrupters) on certain outlets (those near a water source or that could get wet).
  • Lack of AFCIs (arc fault circuit interrupters); these help to prevent fires and are required in new builds.
  • Faulty appliances.
  • Evidence of frequent blown fuses or circuit breakers.
  • Missing or broken wall plates.
  • Delayed responses after switching lights on or off.
  • Flickering lights.

Another good house-hunting practice is to take note if there are too few outlets to accommodate your needs — for electronics, appliances, and other items that will increase the electrical load. If you will need to use extension cords and large outlet strips on a regular basis, you risk overloading your electrical system and creating an electrical hazard.

If you are buying a home, a reputable home inspector should note electrical wiring or other electrical deficiencies and code violations. Make sure electrical items are addressed by a qualified electrician before you call your new place home. If you already own your home and detect electrical issues, call a reputable electrician so that problems can be addressed immediately. If you are or will be a renter and notice any of these issues, advise the property owner right away.

Both renters and homeowners should test all GFCIs once a month to make sure they are working and keep an eye out for other electrical hazards.

For more information on electrical safety, visit celp.com and SafeElectricity.org.