Electrical problems are by far the biggest danger to a home. Even minor problems can lead to a fire or electrocute you. Getting shocked when you plug something into an outlet or touch a light switch is obviously a sign of a problem and indicates you need to hire an electrician There are also many minor or less noticeable issues that you’ll want to have an electrician check out. Here is an overview of some of the most common household electrical issues, what causes them and how to know when it’s time to enlist the help of a professional electrician.
Your Outlet or Light Switch Stops Working
The outlets and light switches in your Idaho home can last a long time, but not forever. The wiring in an outlet or switch can slowly degrade over time to the point where electricity no longer flows, and the outlet or switch stops working. Light switches can also simply wear out due to years of repeated use. Sometimes they’ll just stop working entirely from one day to the next, and other times you may start noticing that there’s a slight delay from when you flip the switch until the light comes on. If a switch doesn’t work, or you notice a delay, it often means that the contact points in the switch are worn out, loose or starting to fail.
Replacing or repairing a faulty outlet or light switch is a simple task that won’t take all that long, but it’s still not something you should ever attempt on your own. If you forget to shut off the circuit breaker before working on the switch or outlet, you might get seriously electrocuted. Electrocution can also occur if the switch or outlet isn’t wired correctly and the connections aren’t fully tight. These issues can also start a major electrical fire. That’s why it’s always best to leave this job to a licensed electrician to ensure it’s done safely and correctly.
The Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping
Circuit breakers are important safety mechanisms since they greatly decrease the risk of fires and electrocution. A circuit breaker is designed to trip instantly if too much current flows through the wiring for the circuit to safely handle. When the breaker trips, it will instantly open the circuit so that electricity stops flowing through it. This is important, as the additional current could otherwise cause the wires to heat up to the point where they caught fire.
Overloads can happen simply because you have too many things plugged into the circuit and are trying to draw more power than what the circuit can safely provide. An overload can also occur due to a short circuit resulting from faulty or damaged wiring or a loose connection. Plugging in a faulty or damaged appliance or electronic device can also lead to a short circuit.
Whenever a circuit breaker trips, unplug some things from that circuit before resetting the breaker just to be sure you’re not trying to draw too much power. If the breaker stays on once you reset it, you probably have nothing to worry about. The breaker may just have tripped due to a power surge.
If the breaker trips a second time, you need to leave it shut off and call for an electrical inspection . It’s also important to have your electrical system inspected if you have issues with one breaker or different breakers that routinely trip. These issues typically indicate an issue with the wiring in the circuit or possibly an appliance connected to it. Continually resetting a breaker that keeps tripping is extremely dangerous and could lead to a fire or cause major damage to your electrical system or anything connected to the circuit. This is one issue must have checked out by a licensed electrician as soon as possible.
Lights Are Flickering
Lights that frequently dim or start flickering can indicate a few different electrical issues. If the problem occurs any time your HVAC system comes on or when you use a high-powered appliance like a microwave or hair dryer, your electrical panel may not be providing sufficient power. This can easily happen if you only have a 60-amp or 100-amp electrical panel that can’t meet all your home’s electrical needs at once. If the panel doesn’t have a high enough amperage, your AC or other appliances might temporarily draw more power than the panel can provide without the power in other circuits dropping. This temporary power drop can cause the lights to flicker or dim for a few seconds.
If you have one light fixture that frequently flickers, it often indicates that a connection in the fixture is loose or the wires are corroded. This is also something you should have an electrician look at immediately, as these issues can cause the fixture to overheat or the wires to spark, posing the risk of a fire.
Light Bulbs Keep Burning Out
Another fairly common issue is when the light bulbs in one light fixture, or all the bulbs in one room burn out more often than they should. As with lights that frequently flicker, this issue often indicates a loose connection or a damaged contact point in the socket that is causing the fixture to overheat and the light bulb to burn out.
LED bulbs are great because they are extremely energy efficient and last much longer than any other type of bulb. However, they are also much more sensitive to heat and can quickly fail if the fixture overheats. If you have recessed can lights with LED bulbs that keep burning out, you may need to have an electrician upgrade or retrofit the fixtures to accommodate LED bulbs. This is because older can lights often produce lots of heat and aren’t really designed for LED bulbs. These bulbs’ heat can easily damage them, so they burn out quickly.
A Switch or Outlet Feels Hot
An outlet or light switch that gives off heat or feels hot to the touch is a sign of a major electrical issue as it indicates damaged wiring or a loose connection causing the wires inside the outlet or switch to heat up. In this situation, immediately shut off the circuit breaker that controls that outlet or switch to lessen the chances of an electrical fire. Don’t turn the breaker back on until you have an electrician perform an inspection.
An Outlet With Burn Marks or Smoke
Burn marks on an outlet’s cover plates, or an outlet that starts smoking, is also a sign of an electrical emergency that requires immediate attention. These issues indicate that the outlet is sparking, causing the insulation on its wiring to melt. If you ever smell smoke or see smoke coming out of an outlet, unplug everything that’s plugged into it, and shut off the circuit breaker until you can have an electrician inspect the outlet and repair or replace it.
If you notice any of the issues in this list or are experiencing any other problems with your home’s electrical system, Magic Electric, Plumbing, Heating + Air is ready to help. Our team of licensed electricians specializes in electrical inspections and all types of electrical repairs, and we also have a team of professional plumbers and certified HVAC technicians to handle your plumbing, heating and air conditioning needs. We have locations in Jerome and Boise, so give us a call today if you need home service in the Magic Valley or Treasure Valley area.