Electrical safety is a crucial factor in every household. But, unfortunately, maintaining electrical safety is quite ignored in rented properties.
The landlords often don’t understand the importance of inspecting and maintaining since they don’t live there, and the tenants ignore it because it doesn’t belong to them.
As a result, most minor faults in electrical connections remain unaddressed in these rental buildings, which may lead to serious accidents, causing damage to the properties.
While reading this article, you will learn about the basic steps to take for the safety of the electrical system at your rental properties and tips to inspect and maintain it.
Basics of Electrical System & Its Maintenance
In most rental properties, especially in large buildings, there is a service entrance where the electrical meter joins the feed from the utility company.
For commercial buildings where multiple families live as tenants, there can be more than one service entrance since they have separate meters.
The door to service entrances of those large buildings are usually located under or above the ground and is often the responsibility of the utility companies. What happens on the other side of the meter is the owner’s responsibility.
The service runs to a load center from the meter. If the building has multiple units, the power will be distributed to various circuits through several service panels and subpanels.
There is a main breaker that equips each panel and is responsible for turning them on or off. The breaker is rated for anticipated load and whenever it senses there is any short or overload of distribution, it trips.
Luckily, in most rental buildings, electrical equipment meets the requirements that are applicable to the types of the house, use, occupancy load, and appliances used.
However, as an owner of a rental house, you need to understand some basics of the electrical system to ensure the safety of your tenants. Most of these systems are quite simple and require regular cleaning and dusting.
However, it’s highly recommended that you do not attempt to repair any of the electrical equipment unless you’re a professional.
There are so many certified professionals who can take care of your rental properties’ electrical inspections and maintenance. For example, people living in the largest city of South Carolina can easily hire some experts electricians in Charleston, SC through online.
Areas Need to be Covered During Electrical Inspections and Maintenance
Every year, approximately 1000 people die in the United States due to electrical injuries. Also, there are around 30,000 non-fatal shock injuries.
From the above statistics, you can easily understand the importance of conducting regular inspections and do proper maintenance when needed, particularly if the property lies in a moist or dusty environment.
The following are some of the basics you need to keep in mind while inspecting.
Electrical Equipment Rooms
In most buildings, equipment rooms are often used as storage, which is one of the major causes of electrical hazards. Always start by inspecting the electrical equipment rooms to make sure they remain clean and dry.
Water seepage from poorly sealed service entrance is a common scenario, which is often ignored until severe damage is done. Do not forget to examine the bottom and top of each and every equipment enclosure, look for any evidence of water, and find out the source of it.
Once you’re done with the inspection required for the maintenance room, make sure the enclosure door can be opened and closed smoothly. Mark the panel door with a danger sign and vacuum everything to remove dirt and debris.
Maintenance of circuit breakers is essential since it protects the circuit from any damage due to voltage fluctuations. That’s why it is necessary to check if all its contacts are smooth, clean, and in correct alignment.
Do follow the manufacturer’s guide to make sure the spring pressures are properly maintained.
Sometimes you may see some discoloration in the silver contacts, which isn’t harmful and can be cleaned by alcohol and non-abrasive cloths. However, you need to consult an expert if the discoloration happens due to insulator deposits.
The electrician usually checks for contact pressure, alignment, and proper wipe by manually closing the circuit breaker. If needed, they may also conduct a contact resistance test.
Another important part that needs to be taken care of is the conductor, which is made of solid metals molded into wires or engraved into the circuit board.
While inspecting, make sure to check all its connections for damaged connectors, overheating issues, or signs of arcing, cracking, deterioration, and flaking.
Follow the manufacturer’s manual to clean all the torques and connections and make sure they are dry and safe before leaving.
Insulators & Other Connectors
Insulators and connectors are often ignored, which can cause serious accidents. Always make sure to examine insulators, as well as connectors for any sign of flaking, cracking, or rust. Check the surroundings properly for any broken pieces.
Take a clean cloth (preferably lint-free) to clean the dirt. If there’s any rust that can’t be cleaned with cloths, opt for some solvents that are approved by the manufacturer.
Like the other equipment, insulators and connectors can be damaged due to water leakage. Remember to test the moisture level to ensure everything is clean and dry.
Remove any damaged insulator and replace them with the help of an electrician. If copper or aluminum conductors are used together, do apply an antioxidant component to them.
Safety Responsibility of The Tenants
While it’s the job of a landlord to properly inspect and maintain their properties’ electrical system, tenants also have some responsibilities.
Electrical appliances owned by the tenants such as hairdryer, electric kettle, computer, etc. aren’t a landlord’s concerns. As a tenant, you must take full responsibility for the maintenance and damage caused by those appliances.
Besides, accidents or damage may also occur due to the’ careless use of those appliances by the tenants. In that case, they must be responsible for repairing that equipment.
For any simple multi-unit building, the maintenance and inspection processes for electrical equipment are quite easy and can be done at a lower budget.
However, for larger apartment complexes, extensive inspection and frequent tests are a must to ensure the safety of everyone living in that building. That’s why it’s highly recommended that you create a budget for those work.
Also remember, all the maintenance and repair work must be done by an expert technician under the supervision of an engineer.