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Safety First

Buying
How to check for appliance recalls during a home inspection

Buying a home and finding out you’ve inherited a defective appliance isn’t just a mild bummer – it can be really dangerous.

Consider the following scenario:

You’re enjoying a celebratory night on the town after finally settling into your new house. Things are going great – until the phone rings. It’s the local sheriff’s department with some bad news. “There’s been a fire.”

It’s the call every homeowner dreads, and it happens more often than you might think. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says that between 2009 and 2011, major appliances caused an average of more than 360,000 residential fires each year, resulting in $6.68 billion in property damage.

Sure, some of these fires can be blamed on human error, like unattended cooking. But when Consumer Reports took a deeper look into the data provided by the National Fire Incident Reporting System, it found that over 35,000 fires in single-family and multi-family dwellings could have been due to problems with the appliances themselves. Pretty scary, isn’t it?

When you’re looking at a potential home, it’s unlikely that the recall status of the appliances is the first thing on your mind. It is, however, something you should pay attention to. It only takes a minute to jot down the model number of the washer and dryer, water heater, dishwasher, refrigerator, and furnace. The information you find could end up saving you from the heartache of losing your new house and personal belongings to a fire, or worse.

If you hire a reputable home inspector, he should be able to identify any recalls on the appliances. That said, not every inspector is this thorough. We suggest being proactive and doing some investigative work on your own. There are plenty of websites that provide recall information on millions of different products. As long as you have the model number of the appliance in question, sites like recalls.gov, cpsc.gov, and saferproducts.gov are good places to look.

As you’re doing your research, you may find that a few of the appliances in your dream home have been recalled due to being unsafe, hazardous, or defective. If this happens, don’t stress! You can ask your agent to negotiate with the seller for a credit. Many buyers don’t think to do this, assuming that all appliances are covered under home warranty policies. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. It’s better to cover all of your bases during the home buying process to make sure you end up with functioning appliances and peace of mind.

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Kate Kasbee
Kate Kasbee is a blogger and freelance copywriter living in Los Angeles. She has a background in real estate marketing and has also written about a variety of subjects including pet care, how to adopt a vegan diet, and technology. Prior to living in sunny California, Kate spent eight years in Chicago where she lived in nine different apartments in five different neighborhoods. Though she’s not quite done exploring, Kate dreams of planting her roots and owning a home with creaky floors and plenty of land for starting an organic farm.
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