- Flickering Lights: If your lights are flickering, the first thing you should do is try to change the bulbs to ensure it’s not just a quick fix. If they still continue to flicker, it may be a poor wiring connection or a faulty fixture, both of which should be attended to by a professional. You should also pay attention to when these flickers are occurring, as that could be an indication of the cause. If the lights only flicker when it’s windy, the cause could be frayed wiring, which may also cause short outages.
- Tripping Circuit Breaker: If your circuit breaker keeps tripping and you don’t know why, pay attention to when the trips occur to try and figure out the cause. If you live in an older home, it may not be designed to handle the wattage that is required for modern homes. High-wattage appliances like a microwave may be causing the circuit breaker to trip. If that is the case, you’ll need to add a circuit or upgrade your electrical in order to accommodate the higher wattage.
- Expensive Electrical Bills: If you like to leave every single light on in your house while running various appliances, then hopefully you can figure out the cause to your problem. However, if your bills are increasing and you don’t understand why, an electrician can assess the energy efficiency of your home. If you have older appliances like a furnace or poor insulation, which can cause your bills to be higher than they need to be. You can even ask your electrician if energy efficiency rebates or government programs could cover the cost of any of the repairs. That being said, never underestimate the value of the simple things, like turning lights and appliances off when they’re not in use.
- GFCI Won’t Reset: GFCIs or a ground fault circuit interrupter shuts off the power circuit when it senses electricity flowing down an incorrect path. They are part of the building codes and help to keep you safe, however if they won’t reset after tripping, an electrician will have to inspect it.
- Exposed Wires: Exposed wires often occur after something like a DIY renovation. They may seem unimportant, however, they can cause a huge fire hazard to your home. Call an electrician to tidy them up, and ensure that they are either spliced and covered, or attached to structural framing.
- Strange Smell: Any kind of smell coming from a switch or outlet is a bad sign. If you even get a whiff of anything, stop using it immediately, as arcing may be causing the odor, which is a fire hazard. Look for another source of the smell, and if you can’t locate the source, repair or replace your switch or outlet immediately.
- Plugs Won’t Stay: Outlets have contacts that hold the prongs in the socket so that there is a good connection. When those contacts start to fail, not only is it annoying, as you can’t consistently use the socket, it also has the potential to cause an arc which, as mentioned above, could cause a fire behind the drywall. An electrician needs to replace that receptacle.
- Too Many Cables: Many of us have been there, where you have a room with too few outlets, so your extension cord is chock full of cables powering or charging various items. This however, in addition to being inconvenient and unsightly, is also a hazard. You could trip on one of the numerous cables, or something could short circuit, causing a chain reaction. Ask an electrician to install more outlets or upgrade your panel to fit your lifestyle. Ultimately it will be both safer and more convenient.
While there are many DIY projects that are great to do in the home, working on your electricity is not one of them. Electricians are trained specifically for their job, and know how to perform checks and repairs in the safest and most convenient way possible. So the next time one of these common household electrical problems occurs, call your local electrician, and save the DIY for decorating.
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