Over time, the different parts of a house wear out from normal use. The deterioration of paint and flooring are two of the most noticeable signs of an aging property. Within the walls of any rental there is an entirely different type of corrosion is occurring. Household electrical components (such as light fixtures and wiring) often outlast other parts of the home however as time passes the devices will start to malfunction. To keep a rental property suitable for occupation, a well-maintained electrical system is a must. Because property managers need to budget for property upgrades, let us take a look at the more substantial replacements you’ll likely run into when renovating your rental property.
THE LIFESPAN OF YOUR HOUSEHOLD ELECTRICAL COMPONENTS EXPLAINED
Starting from the shortest life expectancy to the longest, here is how long you can expect to use the new electrical devices in a rental home.
- LIGHT BULBS: During the course of your real estate career, you’ll probably change more light bulbs than any other feature of your property. Not all bulbs are made equally, so consider the pros and cons of different types carefully. Standard incandescent bulbs last about 1,000 to 2,000 hours, but are currently being ‘phased out’ by more energy efficient bulb models. Halogen lamps have 4x the lifespan of incandescent bulbs, but use much more electricity during the course of their lives. Compact fluorescents (more commonly known as CFL’s) can last up to 10,000 hours, while LED bulbs have been known to stay in use for over 50,000 hours. Needless to say, LED bulbs offer the highest ROI thanks to their long life and low maintenance requirements.
- AFCI’S (ARC-FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS): These have recently become mandatory electrical safety devices in living areas, according to the National Electrical Code. Meant to replace standard electrical plugs, AFCI’s prevent ‘arching’ circuits from creating a harmful spark to the household tenant, or from starting a fire inside the wall. After replacement, you can expect to get 15-30 years out of your device.
- GFCI’S (GROUND-FAULT CIRCUIT INTERRUPTERS): Similar to AFCI’s, these devices are used in water-prone areas like kitchen counters and bathrooms. Because the likelihood and severity of electrical shocks increase in moisture-rich areas, these safety switches were designed to prevent harmful shocks with their safety-focused construction. Depending on the model you use, a GFCI can last up to 30 years.
- LIGHT FIXTURES: Although light fixtures can last around 40 years, most tend to become damaged or broken (due to cracked glass or faulty wiring) long before their expiration date. To avoid having to replace lighting frequently, invest in quality lighting brands up-front to truly get a longer lifespan out of each fixture.
- SERVICE PANELS: As the heart of any electrical system, the service panel must be in perfect working condition to prevent electrical failure and safety hazards. Most service panels have a life expectancy of up to 60 years, however regular service calls should be scheduled to make sure the breakers and connections inside are still functioning safely.
Understanding electrical components will help you maintain a well-kept rental property. Keep an eye out for electrical devices that seem to be deteriorating before their projected lifespan, which can be a symptom of more serious electrical issues.