FAULTY WIRING WARNING SIGNS
Recently we met a Richmond family who, thankfully, had only lost their home from a house fire. Our hearts in our throat’s as we listened to their story of almost losing their son due to faulty wiring in the kitchen, we couldn’t help but admire their focus on what was most important – that they all survived.
Sadly, according to the National Fire Protection Association (Link), on average, seven (7) people die in a home fire every day, with nineteen percent (19%) of those deaths resulting from electrical distribution and lighting. The report also analyzed the origination of the fires, estimating that sixteen percent (16%) of fires between 2012-2016 started in the kitchen (Full Report Link).
While my husband (the home inspector), automatically recognizes visible warning signs in the homes he inspects, it made me wonder what were some things that I, as a homeowner, should recognize as potential issues. Here are some of his and others suggestions:
- Water + Electricity = Danger – While you definitely want to have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet or line with a GFCI Circuit breaker used for areas close to water, it’s also a good idea to have these same protective measures on lines that will have heavy usage. Follow this LINK to the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s GFCI Fact Sheet to learn more.
- Frequently blown fuses or tripped breakers – when we first moved into our house, my daughter and I could never use our hair dryers at the same time without tripping one of the breakers. While I found it tedious to have to go down to the basement to flip the switch back on, Tom recognized it as something that needed to be fixed living with two females. He warns that had the fuse blown by only one of us using our hair dryer at a time, that he would have prevented us from using that outlet, concerned that the circuit was being overloaded. If this happens to you, contact a professional to see if either an upgrade to the circuit is needed or adding a new line might be the best solution.
- The Nose Knows!!! – If you’re smelling fishy smells, rotten egg / sulfur, urine-like, or burnt plastic smells near outlets, switches or walls, you need to immediately turn off the power and contact an electrician. While the rotten egg / sulfur and urine-like smells could be indicative of sewer leaks or a dead animal in the walls, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Spooky Flickering Lights – If your lights are dimming or flickering, and their NOT those specialty lights designed to do so, this could be a sign that there’s a power drain on that line as light fixtures typically draw a small amount of power. This is another example of needing to possibly reroute switches or have a new line installed – so get that electrician on the phone.
- Buzzing? – We don’t typically associate sound with our household wiring – that’s because typically the electricity is smoothly and quietly flowing between connections. Current jumping causes a buzzing sound and could indicate that there are loose prongs, outlets, or faulty wiring.
- Heat & Sparks – While sparks might be an obvious red flag for improper wiring, we don’t always go around touching our outlets or switch plates for heat.
One thing we do suggest when hiring an Electrical Contractor is to check the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation’s License Database (LINK).
Financing Residential Radon Mitigation Costs
Using the HUD 203(k) Mortgage Insurance Program to Reduce the Risk of Lung Cancer in People
The Section 203(k) mortgage financing program is the Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) primary tool for rehabilitating and improving single family homes. The program allows home buyers to finance the purchase and repair or improvement of a home using a single mortgage loan.
Reducing radon levels in a home is an improvement that can be financed through a 203(k) mortgage loan. Part of the 203(k) mortgage proceeds must be used to pay the costs of rehabilitating or improving a residential property.
- To qualify, the total cost of the eligible repairs or improvements, including fixes to reduce radon levels, must be at least $5,000.
- The 203(k) program is an important tool for expanding home ownership, revitalizing homes, neighborhoods and communities and for making homes healthier and safer for those who occupy them.
Homes eligible for 203(k) financing include:
- one to four-family dwellings that have been completed for at least one year;
- dwellings that have been demolished, provided some of the existing foundation system remains; and,
- converting a one-family dwelling into a two, three, or four-family dwelling; or, alternatively, converting an existing multi-unit dwelling into a one to four-family unit.
The 203(k) program has been used successfully by many lenders to rehabilitate properties through partnerships with state and local housing agencies and with non-profit organizations. To further help borrowers buy homes, lenders have found innovative ways to combine the 203(k) program with other financial resources like HUD’s HOPE and Community Development Block Grant Programs.
Contact an FHA-approved lender in your area for more information about HUD’s 203(k) program, or if you are interested in getting a 203(k) insured mortgage loan. To find a lender, please use HUD’s Lender List (LINK).
The National Association of Realtors – a Great Resource for Home-buyers
Home-buyers need every tool at their disposal to understand the labyrinth of Residential Real Estate. One tool we gain a lot of information from is the National Association of Realtors “Realtor Magazine”. Have a Question? Use their search bar to locate informative articles or just review their “Daily News Articles” where you will find articles such as these:
Realtors & their associations are advocates for the right to own, use, & transfer real property. Meaning, they are YOUR advocates for home-ownership.
Home Inspection & Radon Testing Contingency
DON’T SHOP PRICE, SHOP EXPERIENCE!!!!
You’ve finally found the home of your dreams & can see a light at the end of the tunnel. But now you find out that you have a 7 Day Home Inspection & Radon Testing Contingency period & need to hire an inspector ASAP!!!!
One of the BIGGEST MISTAKES you could make when choosing an inspector is to focus in on the cost of the inspection. Don’t just assume that all home inspectors are equal!! There are a lot of moving parts to purchasing a home. It can be timely, costly, and frustrating – BUT, remember this is one of the largest purchases of your life, so it’s to be expected. Take advantage of the Home Inspection & Radon Testing Contingency as not only a negotiation tool to ask for repairs or credits, but as an introduction to your new home.
So, before you start making those phone calls to choose your inspector, we wanted to give you two examples of phone calls we receive:
Realize that during this process, you’ve actually been assembling a Home Purchasing Team that can help you navigate through the labyrinth.