If you are looking for a new home to buy or rent, the last thing on your mind is probably the electricals. Yet given that a high percentage of house fires are caused by faulty wiring and appliances, we need to pay closer attention to the contents of the home we’re choosing.
Today we’re giving you a list of the 9 most important electrical items to check before you commit to your new home.
1. Smoke alarms.
We rank this as the number one priority because a smoke alarm can save your life. The legislation varies between states, the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service say:
“For the best protection, smoke alarms should be installed on each storey:
- in every bedroom
- in hallways that connect bedrooms and the rest of the dwelling
- if there is no hallway, between the bedrooms, and
- if there are no bedrooms on a storey, at least one smoke alarm should be installed in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling.
Existing smoke alarms manufactured more than 10 years ago, as well as any smoke alarms that do not operate when tested, must be replaced with photoelectric smoke alarms that comply with Australian Standard 3786–2014. All smoke alarms should be interconnected within the dwelling.”
Landlords are responsible for testing, cleaning and replacing smoke alarms in all rental properties.
Oh, and remember to change the batteries on National Smoke Alarm Day, April 1st.
2. Air Conditioning.
An air conditioner is a necessity in our climate. If you are buying or renting a new home, check that the air conditioner is working properly. If the unit is over 10 years old, it will soon need replacing. Turn the unit on and pay attention to strange noises or smells, and the quality of the airflow. These are signs your air conditioner might need replacing.
3. Power points.
Do you have enough in each room? Are they in the right location? Do they look clean and undamaged or can you see evidence of sparks or smoke? Are there enough power points for the size of the home? You don’t want to overload power points or use extension leads to take power to your appliances.
4. Ceiling fans
Ceiling fans are great for keeping the air moving and reducing your reliance on high-energy usage air conditioners. Make sure they work, and they are securely attached to the roof. Look for wobbles when the fan is turned on. Pay attention to the speed of the fan and whether it adjusts as you change the controller. Have a good look at the controller if it’s wall-mounted, and ensure it looks safe.
Is there enough indoor and outdoor lighting for safety? Are the globes energy efficient? Are there sensors on indoor and outdoor lights so they turn on when they sense movement and off when the space is empty?
6. Ovens and kitchen appliances.
What energy rating do the oven, dishwasher and range hood have? As some of the biggest appliances in the home, they will have a big impact on your energy usage and bill. New appliances will have a better energy rating than older ones. Also note that older appliances will soon need to be replaced, adding to your purchase cost or your potential issues with your landlord.
7. Power surge protection.
Ours is a stormy climate so it’s important to make sure your home is protected against lightning strikes and the power surge it causes. Your appliances and electrical equipment can be damaged, and in a worst-case scenario, your home can also catch fire. A power-board with surge protection can protect your appliances, but sometimes the surge is too powerful for them to cope with. Appliances like refrigerators which are hard-wired into the power have no protection. Investing in hard-wired surge protection can save you a fortune in damaged appliances but it might also save your life. In rental properties, it makes sense for a landlord to protect the property, so it’s a wise investment. If the rental property does not have power surge protection, ask the agent to discuss it with the landlord.
8. Pool pumps.
If your new home comes with a pool, check the pump closely. Has it been professionally wired? Is it operating properly? How old is the unit?
If the pool pump needs to be reinstalled or replaced, it will add to your overall costs.
Last, but not least, the switchboard which is the heart of the electricals in your home. Is the switchboard old and outdated? It will need to be replaced for safety, especially with the number of appliances modern families have plugged into power. An overloaded switchboard might overheat and catch fire. It will almost certainly cause regular blackouts in your home. If yours is a more recent switchboard, make sure it has safety switches and circuit breakers for your protection.
Owners of domestic rental accommodation in Queensland must have a safety switch installed in their rental properties. If the rental doesn’t, it suggests the landlord is not big on maintenance!
These 9 electrical items will tell you a lot about the home you’re thinking of buying or renting. They will tell you how well the property has been cared for and how well it will cope with the future.
Be prepared when you sign that contract and understand what the electricals are telling you. For your peace of mind, it is well worth having the property inspected before you commit to it.
The Safe and Sure team can do an electrical safety inspection before you buy or rent your new home. A quick phone call to 1300 507 735 will ease your mind.