It is not unusual to find residential houses near power lines. However, not all people are comfortable buying a home near power lines or pylons.
This reluctance is founded on safety fears associated with electricity. But are these concerns legitimate? Below are some of the safety concerns you need to be aware of before buying a house near power lines.
The Safety Concerns Involved When Buying a Home Near Power Lines
If you are thinking of buying a home near power lines, here are the primary safety concerns you need to be aware of:
1. Electrocution and Fire
Incidences of electrocution and fire from power lines are very rare. However, the risk of these things happening is always there.
To begin with, low or sagging power lines pose a significant risk to both property and people. And your house is no exception. Power lines usually sag lower when there is high demand or in times of high temperature and fires. This reduces ground clearance, thus increasing the risk of electrocution and fire. There are a few reported incidences of people getting electrocuted to death by low-hanging lines.
Also, even if they are high enough, in case of extreme weather events such as storms, high winds, or earthquakes, power lines can cause damage to both property and people. During such events, surrounding trees or structures may be electrified if they make contact with the lines.
High winds and falling objects may also bring down power lines. The damaged or dangling lines may lead to electrocution or fire with possibly fatal outcomes.
But as mentioned earlier, such incidences are almost unheard of, especially in places that have stable weather conditions. But if you are moving to a stormy or earthquake-prone area, you should give this a careful thought before buying a house near a power line.
In case your house is near one, it is important to prune trees near the power lines. This helps to minimize the interference in case of weather-related disasters.
2. Buzzing Noise
Overhead power lines, especially high tension lines, usually emit a buzzing noise. This noise is produced as electricity jumps through the air that surrounds these lines. Sometimes the noise is accompanied by a bluish glow.
This noise can be significantly loud if the lines are placed low. But if the power lines are set high enough, the noise is not audible and will not be a bother. Fortunately, neither the buzzing noise nor the bluish glow poses any danger.
However, the noise can be annoying. It can be a problem for people who want serenity. Also, the elderly, very young children, and sickly people are usually susceptible to noise. It can have a significant negative impact on their sleep quality which, in turn, affects their health and well-being. In the case of patients who are critically ill, the noise may cause serious complications.
So, if you live with someone in the categories mentioned above, you might want to consider their well-being when buying a house near power lines, especially those high voltage ones.
In some cases, the buzzing may be an indicator of underlying electrical problems. If, for example, the buzzing is louder than usual, it would be essential to seek the intervention of the relevant authorities. This may help to address the problem before it becomes a serious safety issue.
3. Exposure to Radiation (Electro-Magnetic Fields)
Research shows that everyone is exposed to some level of radiation. This radiation comes from the electrical appliances that we use daily at homes, such as mobile phones, refrigerators, and computers. Radiation has been linked to certain health complications like cancer.
However, the severity of the health complications depends on the strength of radiation. Household appliances and electrical wiring at home emit extremely low-frequency radiation. Therefore, they pose very few health risks, and that is why we continue to use them.
And just like household appliances, power lines also produce radiation. Similarly, the level of radiation is extremely low to pose any significant health risks.
However, there are prevalent claims that exposure to EMF radiation from power lines leads to cancer, especially in children. No conclusive studies have been done to confirm these claims. As mentioned earlier, the level of radiation emitted from power lines is similar to that produced by household appliances. Therefore, it would be difficult to explain why one is harmful, and the other is not.
Scientists have also refuted these claims. Research conducted by the World Health Organization has established that the level of exposure to radiation from power lines is not enough to cause any significant health issues.
Safe Distance When Buying a House Next To Power Lines
To be safe from the highlighted risks, it’s good to live within the safe zone, some distance away from the power lines. The question of how far away will depend on whether the power lines in question are high-voltage or low-voltage.
For example, when it comes to EMFs, high voltage lines emit higher radiation compared to low voltage lines. Therefore, the distance from your house to the power lines matters. The closer you are to the power lines, the stronger the magnetic field becomes and vice versa.
Undoubtedly, buying a property that is situated near high voltage power lines puts you at a higher risk of radiation. Luckily, most of the power lines in residential areas and streets are low voltage, and so the radiation level is low.
The recommended distance from high voltage lines is 200 meters. Houses that are 200 meters or more from a high voltage power line usually have typical radiation levels that have insignificant effects on human beings. You can live within the 50 meters limit for low voltage lines and still be safe from harmful radiation.
It should be noted, however, that studies that push this proximity claim are not conclusive. They do not show a strong link between EMF radiation and health issues, specifically cancer. In fact, a separate study done by the American Physical Society argues that the claims that power line fields are connected to cancer are not scientifically substantiated.
Should You Buy A House Near A Power Line?
This is not a simple yes or no question. It is critical to conduct the necessary due diligence before committing to a purchase. This involves conducting an assessment of the house based on the safety issues raised above.
You can do this assessment yourself or with very little professional help. For example, it is easy to establish the buzzing noise levels and the likelihood of electrocution or fire by looking around or doing a few informal consultations.
When it comes to EMF radiation, you can measure it using a gaussmeter or an EMF meter. These are handheld devices, most of which can be found online or even in local retail stores. If the house is near a pylon or a high voltage power line, you can make arrangements with the local power company for an on-site reading.
So if you happen to see a house adjacent to a power line, do not dismiss it over safety concerns without doing your research. Otherwise, you may be turning your back on a perfect home.