Thursday, March 31, 2011

Risk or danger?

A risk is a risk. Within the context of a property inspection, a risk is not a danger. A risk is something that has the possibility of hazard or loss. A danger is more immediate and should be treated as such.

The difference is that a risk requires action to become a danger. A house without occupants can be full of risks without being dangerous. But houses are generally built so that people can live in them. People bring action. Action converts risk to danger.

An example of a risk would be a circuit in which a 30 amp breaker is supplying a 14 gauge cable (which can safely carry 15 amps). In and of itself, that's not a dangerous thing, but it is a risk because the oversize circuit breaker is no longer protecting the wiring from carrying more amperage than the wiring can safely carry.

This risk becomes a danger when a homeowner manages to plug every appliance in his house into the circuit, thereby causing the wiring to carry more current than it can safely handle. Homes can and do burn as a result of the actions that turned this risk into a danger, which is why property inspectors “make a big deal” about such situations.

The ability to communicate the difference is what makes an effective property inspector. Property inspection is not merely a matter of finding problems. It is a matter of communicating every possible aspect of a property to the client.