High electricity charges only in one of the units

5 Replies

Fellow BP's

I am in need of some assistance in trying to fix an electrical issue in a multi unit rental property.

There is one unit of a 7 units property where the tenant is complaining of an extremely high electricity bill. The property is an electric and no gas building. The tenants are 2 adults but use reasonable amounts of electricity. The average DWP bill has been close to $400 during the summer and even higher in the $700s during the winter due to portable heating devices. The units has electric heating that runs through the ceiling with heated cords(this is what has been explained to me but I'm not too sure) however the heater is broken and is not working. We had been told that in order to repair this, the ceiling will have to be ripped out. Can this be part of the issue?

This is extreme high for the little they claim to use. Can any one help with any possible issues and or lead me to an affordable/ knowledgable electrician because the ones we've called cannot seem to locate the issue? We don't want to scare the tenant away by being forced to move. If this is not resolved now, this will continue to be an issue for all future tenants in this particular unit. 

Eldar Manetsh what you basically have is some power that is running that is tied into their meter that they don't control. Did the electricians actually trace the lines inside the building? If they did, you would know because it would be a long and slow process. Is there evidence that a previous owner had done some physical changes to the building?

If the answers to the above question are no, then I would suggest that you start with just doing some investigation based on the electrical bills of the rest of the units. It should be fairly obvious, especially if an adjoining unit has really low electric bills. A previous owner might have wanted to put outlets on a wall in an adjoining unit and just put outlets in by daisy chaining the power that is there for the questionable unit.

You can figure this out by turning the power off in the adjoining units and testing outlets and switches in those units. If you cut power at the box for those units and you find live power running inside them, then you know it is coming from the wrong box.

I have never seen heating from the ceiling using electric wires. Radiant floor heating using wire is fairly common now, but heating from above does not sound right. Anyway, I would start with the easy stuff and compare the bills/electrical usage for all the units first.

I hope this helps and good luck to you.

When did you buy the apartment? Can you pull up the previous bills for that unit? Do you know what other's are paying for the units at that complex? Before I paid an electrician I would determine as closely as possible that the tenant is not to blame and it si the apartment. IF the bills have always been high and they are higher than the same units in the complex than I would hire an electrician. If they aren't than I would have a sit down with the tenant and show them your findings.

We were on the 3rd floor in Texas. Our bills in the summer were $250-$300 for a 1000sqft unit because heat rising. There was nothing no one could do!

The building has 7 units and how many meters?  7 or 8?

If it has 7 meters, then my bet is the unit with high usages is paying for all common usages such as exterior lights, sprinkler timers, washer and dryer.

first check , did you turn off everything in their unit and see if the meter is still running?  I would also disconnecting the bad heater. If meter is still running you have foreign load and you need to see what they are also paying for.  Then replace the heater.  I don't know what kind of heater this is but electric heat is expensive in our area and poorly functioning units can sometimes draw more energy, if the thermostat on a unit doesn't work or the heater doesn't sense temperature correctly you can have a situation where it is always on drawing electric.  Maybe it will be cheaper to disconnect the heat unit you have now and put something different in. In any case ask for some other options if you don't want to open the ceiling. If both summer and winter are high you probably have a foreign load and my guess is it is not a couple of outlets.  You could throw their breaker off and see where  else the electric goes off. Tell the rest of tenants  you are doing an inspection and go around and  check what else went off.   I would think the electrician would check that but some things might be hard to find. 

@Arlen Chou  ,Elizabeth Colegrove 

Thank you guys, I appreciate the great input !

I need to start checking it and get back to you with some updates.

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