Electrical Warning Signs - When to Call an Electrician
Electrical problems often go unnoticed until there is a significant problem, such as a short circuit, a tripped breaker, or in the worst case, an electrical fire. By paying attention to the warning signs of an outdated or malfunctioning electrical system, and calling an electrician before major problems occur, you can ensure your home will be safe from electrical hazards such as fires and accidental electrocution.
1. Electrical Service Panel
A common problem with older homes is an undersized service panel. The electrical needs of a 1950s household were quite different from today's households. An undersize service panel will not only limit a home's functionality, it can cause safety problems. At minimum, the panel should be rated for 200-amps.
2. Worn Out Wiring
Fiberglass-insulated wiring is commonly found in older homes and can fray over time, exposing the wire and increasing the odds of a malfunciton. Check where the wires pass through the walls and ceiling joists, these are the most common problem areas.
3. Ungrounded Circuits
Even if electrical receptacles have a ground prong a plug-in voltage tester should be used to make sure they are in fact grounded. The plug-in tester will also alert you if the polarity is wrong or if the circuit has other wiring problems like a lost neutral or a lost feed. All two-prong circuits should be upgraded to three-prong grounded outlets.
4. Dimming of Flickering Lights
Check for lights that are dim or blinking. Dimming bulbs are often a sign that there are voltage changes occurring in the circuit. A licensed electrician should inspect the circuit for loose wiring or other issues.
5. Loose Wire Connections
Inspect junction boxes to ensure the wiring is well connected. Don't touch the wiring, just inspect it. If you find potential problems, turn off the breaker and call an electrician.
6. Smoke Detectors
Smoke detectors are required on every floor of the house. If the detectors are not working, install new 9-volt batteries and re-test them to ensure they are functioning.
7. GFCI Receptacles
GFCI receptacles should be installed in areas where electrical appliances are more likely to come in contact with water, such as bathrooms, kitchens, garages, and outside of the home.
8. Burn Marks
Look for signs of burning or scorching around receptacles, light switches and light fixtures. If scorch marks are visible, the circuit experienced a short at some time. Ensure that the circuit was properly repaired or the broken receptacle or switch was professionally repaired.
9. Inadequate Electrical Circuits
If you're replying on extension cords to plug in appliances, or are frequently resetting tripped breakers, it's a sign that your electrical system is not adequate for your electrical needs. Have your electrician install additional outlets and upgrade you electrical panel to match your needs.
Need a professional electrical inspection? Call MR Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric. We're here to help.