Whenever we use electrical devices in our homes, we trust that our system is working properly and that there isn’t any real risk in turning on a light or powering up the air conditioner. And for the most part, we’re right.
But there is always a chance that a home could be experiencing an electrical problem and that problem, while hopefully minor, could lead to a more risky situation. Any home’s electrical system can encounter problems whether it’s due to use, age or worn out components.
That’s why we at Eric Krise Electrical Contractors recommend periodic inspections of your system.
In the meantime, however, you don’t have to be left in the dark – so to speak – about potential problems in your system. Fortunately, there are some telltale signs that your electrical system – or particular components – could be on the verge of wearing out.
As electrical problems can be a fire hazard and pose a risk of shock to you family, these are signs that should be acted on quickly to head off any problems. Always call a trained electrician to inspect and replace parts of your system, since incorrectly installed components are a common reason for the problems in the first place.
Here’s some warning signs to look out for.
Circuit breaker keeps tripping
Your circuit breakers are designed to trip whenever a circuit becomes overloaded. The breaker is shutting down to prevent overheating and a fire risk. In older homes with fuse boxes, the overload causes the fuse to blow out.
If a breaker keeps tripping, you may simply be putting too much electrical use on the circuit. Simply lessening the load could help by plugging appliances into a different outlet and circuit (another reason to clearly mark your circuit breaker box).
However, this could also be a sign that your home needs more circuits – which entails rewiring – or its overall amperage needs to be increased to handle major appliances like air conditioners.
The breakers can also trip because they are old. If your breakers trip frequently, even without much usage, you should call us to inspect your circuit box.
If you feel a mild shock when using an appliance, it could indicate a ground fault in the appliance or that your outlet is improperly wired. Even a mild shock or tingle indicates a problem that could get worse and more hazardous. Like any other components, outlets can wear out. Their connections can also be made loose by wear such as frequently plugging and unplugging devices.
Of course, some shocks are simply from static – usually caused by crossing a carpet – so keep that in mind. However, if the shock is coming from an outlet or fixture, it needs to be checked.
You should, however, take other types of electrical shock seriously as you don’t want to risk the situation becoming worse.
Hot ceiling fixtures
Occasionally check around ceiling fixtures for warmth. It could mean that the fixture is not well-insulated. Another cause could be bulbs with a wattage too high for the fixture.
Too much heat buildup could pose a fire hazard. Compact fluorescent lights or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs can significantly reduce the heat put out by the fixture.
Flickering lights can simply indicate a defective or loose light bulb. However, if replacing the bulb doesn’t stop the flickering, it could be a sign of a defective fixture or loose wiring. You should always consult a professional when checking your home’s wiring or replacing light fixtures.
Switches or electrical outlets are not working
A dead outlet could simply mean the outlet has failed and burnt out. Outlets that work intermittently can also be caused by a crack in the outlet or a sign that it is failing. But again, this could be a sign of a problem with your home’s wiring.
Burning odor or sparks
This is an extreme sign and if you notice a burning odor coming from any outlets or switches, turn the power off at the electrical panel and call an electrician for appropriate repairs. The problem could be caused by a faulty device, but it could also be a wiring or overload problem.
Receptacles or connected electrical cords that are warm to the touch are also a sign of an electrical problem.
Though plugging and unplugging some appliances can lead to small sparks in an outlet, large and repeating sparks are a sign of wiring problems. Loose wiring can also make a popping sound. Turn the power off if any of these signs happen and do not use the receptacle until the situation has been repaired.
If you have any questions about electrical hazards at your home, call us at 856.769.3932.