Common Safety Code Violations in Older Homes

Older homes must have regular maintenance work. Unfortunately, the older the structures get, the more the related codes change. Many old homes now have to follow current codes and regulations.

If you’re planning on taking a look at an older home, you need to know what to look for. This way, you’ll know if it’s safe to live in or not without having to invest a lot of money, only to find out later that it’s not safe.

Ready to know what to look out for? Here’s a list of common safety code violations in older homes.

No Smoke Alarms

Smoke alarms are an integral part of any home’s fire safety system. Without a working smoke alarm, families are more at risk if a fire. Unfortunately, many older homes lack functioning smoke alarms, putting the occupants of the home at risk.

In some cases, the smoke alarm may be non-existent or non-working, and at other times the alarm may outdated and not capable of alerting occupants of a potential fire. When smoke alarms are not working due to age or negligence, safety code violations occur, and the safety of the individuals living in the home is called into question. Smoke alarms need regular maintenance and testing, so they are in proper working condition and to avoid a serious violation of the safety code.

Defective Stairways

Neglected stairways can cause tripping and lead to serious injuries. Common violations include inadequate handrails and improper surface materials that lead to slipping. Small risers can also be a tripping hazard, and narrow stairs could create a risk of falling through the gap.

Finally, the low visibility of stairs can also be an issue, which is why they should be well-illuminated and have adequate contrast in colors. By keeping stairways in good condition and adhering to safety codes, homeowners can prevent slip-and-fall accidents and protect those in their residences from harm.

Outdated Electrical Wiring

Electrical wiring that does not have to be supported or updated can present a potential fire hazard. Electrical wires that are worn, or exposed are dangerous and could lead to an electrical fire if used.

Breakers and fuses that are non-functional could also be a cause of electrical overload, which can become a fire hazard. Improper grounding or insulation of wiring and outdated appliances can also present a safety concern.

Older homes should inspect and re-wire if necessary so that all wiring and components are safe and up to code. If a home has outdated electrical wiring, replacing it with wiring and components that meet current safety codes and local laws is the safest solution.

Plumbing Deficiencies

Older homes often need plumbing updates due to outdated materials and fixtures. Common safety code violations in older homes related to plumbing deficiencies involve pipe corrosion, inadequate water pressure, and drainage, old water heaters, leaky faucets, inadequate ventilation, cross-contamination risk, etc. All these issues can cause water damage, increase the risk of unsanitary water, and can cause structural damage to the home.

If any of these code violations are detected, it’s important that they are addressed by a licensed plumber to protect the safety of those in the home. By correcting these deficiencies, homeowners can protect their family’s safety while increasing the system’s efficiency and reliability.

Faulty Heating Systems

Another safety violation is the improper installation of a furnace or boiler. Improper installation can lead to gas leaks and an increased risk of poisoning. Also, failure to clean or support furnaces and chimneys can lead to dangerous build-ups of toxic fumes and combustible materials. Other problems include damaged fireplaces, unattended combustible substances, and blocked chimneys. 

Finally, many older heating systems lack safety features such as automatic shut-off switches. This can be a common safety violation as a malfunctioning system that is not shut off can cause hazardous conditions or even a fire in the home. Regular maintenance and safety checks can go a long way toward preventing any dangerous activity in older homes and protecting those who live and work in them.

Inadequate Exiting and Lighting

Older homes are great, but they can also pose safety risks due to inadequate exiting and lighting. This can be a major safety hazard, as people in the home may not be able to find exits in an emergency. Also, having proper outdoor lighting can help people locate entrances and exits, as well as give more physical security.

Finally, inadequate exit signs and inadequate lighting in side yards are often overlooked. Ensuring that both of these points can prevent accidents or further security risks. Maintaining proper exiting and lighting may require a bit of maintenance, but it is necessary for a safe home.

Unlatched Windows and Doors

Older homes often pose a variety of safety hazards due to outdated construction, renovations, and lack of maintenance. Such incidents can cause falls or an inability to escape a dangerous situation. Unlatched or missing windows and doors can also present an easy entry for intruders.

Owners of older homes should take the time to inspect and support the infrastructure to find any weaknesses. This can include checking the condition of locks and hinges, reviewing window and door latches, and replacing any structure that is deemed unsafe. Often, starting with the basics can have a real impact on safety and preservation.

Failure to Install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters

GFCI outlets are designed to protect against electric shock hazards. Without it, current may be flowing through wires, outlets, or appliances throughout the home if a power surge or short circuit. This could present a significant risk of electrocution for those using electricity in the home.

GFCIs should install in areas with outlets that are exposed to moisture, such as bathrooms, kitchens, and outdoor areas. Ensuring GFCIs are properly installed and regularly inspected is an important part of a home’s safety.

Regular inspections should also check on any older wiring as it could also be in need of replacement or repair. Taking steps for these important precautions will help you to keep a home and its occupants safe from any potential electrical hazards posed by the home’s wiring.

Unclear Gas Lines and Poor Ventilation

Unclean gas lines can lead to hazardous gas leaks, resulting in fires and carbon monoxide poisoning. Poor ventilation can also cause a build-up of toxins from cleaning agents and home appliances, which can cause uncomfortable respiratory issues. Regular maintenance and inspections should do on any gas lines or ventilation systems in an older home to find and repair any issues.

Also, carbon monoxide alarms should install to alert homeowners. Taking the time for your home’s air quality is safe is crucial in preventing health issues linked to unclean gas lines and poor ventilation.

Unsecured Structural Foundations

Older homes tend to come with more risks due to the lack of updated building codes. One of the key safety code violations in older homes is an unsecured structural foundation. This means that the home’s foundation is not structurally sound, with joints shifting and changing or even having cracks or crevices that can be big enough to allow moisture or pests inside.

This poor structural foundation can lead to further structural issues within the home itself and can compromise the safety and health of the inhabitants. To discuss this issue, you should hire a structural engineer to assess the foundation and fix any issues for safety and reduce further deterioration. Supplements to the foundation should also complete reducing risk.

To discuss the potential entry of pests and moisture, the home should be properly sealed and weatherproofed. With proper repairs and updates to the foundation, the home can be brought to a structurally sound and code-compliant state.

Unsafe Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos can be found in the insulation, walls, ceilings, and some floor tiles. When the asbestos deteriorates or is damaged and particles are released, it can cause serious breathing complications and other illnesses if exposed.

The asbestos must be sealed and contained to prevent inhalation, but if homeowners do not inspect it or do maintenance to keep it contained, it can be released and cause health issues. Homeowners should hire a certified and insured contractor for asbestos removal for safety. They will also inspect and repair any asbestos issues to prevent health risks.

Common Breaches of the Safety Code

Older homes contain safety code violations that are important to find and discuss. Homeowners should have a trusted expert inspect their home for it meets applicable building and safety codes.

Doing so will make the home safer and more comfortable for all who live there. Act now to start protecting your home and family, and schedule a safety inspection today.

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