Electrical problems within U.S. homes are common, especially in older towns and cities with poor electrical infrastructure. Luckily, there are a few signs that will alert you of possible wiring problems within or around your home – some that may even be dangerous or costly. As a rule of thumb with all electrical wiring problems, prior to working on diagnosing the situation or resolving the conflict, always turn-off the central power source, such as the grid or circuit breaker to the house.
Below are some of the most common problems with home electrical wiring that you may be able to fix yourself, or at the very least, diagnose yourself and save time for the electrician in the process.
Light Bulbs and Lighting Fixtures – Are you having trouble with flickering lights or bursting light bulbs? There are a couple of possible issues to consider prior to solving the lighting problem. First you want to figure out exactly what is happening – is the light bulb overheating, bursting, flickering, or just plain turning off randomly? All of these issues come from separate sources. If you have bulbs that randomly turn-off and then back on, you may have an overheating problem caused by insulation accumulating around the lighting socket or by using the wrong style and wattage of light bulb.
Always make sure your sockets are clear and the bulbs are right. Also, inconsistency in the lighting levels and strengths of the lights may be a product of bad neutral connections where multiple lights are feeding off two circuits that are bad. You’ll need to get an electrician out for this problem.
Extension cords & Over-used Outlets – The easiest way to start a fire is by introducing an additional electrical burden on an already overstressed electrical system. Many Christmas trees throughout the years have fallen victim to this, ultimately leaving the house in burnt shambles.
Over-worked extension cords or outlets cause shortages and sparks, which in turn open the door for plants, carpets, or Christmas trees to catch on fire. Always be aware of exposed electrical wiring coming out of a socket or wall (these are not grounded) as well as extension cord over-usage (particularly in dorm rooms).
Dead Outlet Problems – Most newer homes have outlets with surge control, where an outlet reset is needed in order for the entire wiring circuit to work properly again. In addition, many older homes’ surge protection goes directly to the circuit breaker, where a hair-dryer can trip the entire electrical system of the outlet and surrounding outlets.
When an outlet senses a possible shocking danger (possibly caused by a large influx of amps) the ground fault interrupter (GFI) will automatically shut off the outlet. The red reset button on the outlet will click when you push it back in place and everything should return to normal throughout the home.
You May Need Another Circuit – As explained above with the outlet GFI system, overloading the circuit breaker within your home will only automatically shut off power .Therefore, you may need to use a new, separate circuit for heavy items such as microwaves, hairdryers, portable a/c units, and heater waters if your problem is continuous.
Warm Walls – If you’re feeling warm walls, particularly near switches or dimming switches, the receptacle may need to be replaced. A bad connection with a receptacle may cause energy dissipation and is dangerous due to overheating within the walls of the home – there is insulation and other flammable items located within your walls that could catch fire. In addition, if a switch does not seem to control anything at all within your home it could be the switch itself (though these usually last a long time), or it could also be the receptacle as well.
Matthew Hall is a home electrician who deals with these problems on a day to day basis. He recently moved out of the Orlando area, and for his former customers in that area, and anybody else, he highly recommends BobHeinmiller for quality electrical services. You can find out more about Matthew from Google+.
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