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5 Common Home Electrical Problems [Video]

February 25, 2020 | Blog

Most household electric problems stem from a lack of maintenance. In a home’s electrical system components like plugs, switches, breakers and wires all have a life span.

To make the most of your system, make sure you work with a local residential electric service provider to do an annual maintenance and safety check on your home. Much like you would with your car when you get an oil change.

Flickering Lights

There are two common remedies that homeowners can use to correct flickering lights. With a little bit of investigation and research, you can verify that you have the correct bulb for the fixture or correct bulb for a dimmer switch. If it’s beyond that, there are about 20 different causes for flickering lights. It could range from the age of the system, all the way to maintenance issues or even a utility company issue.

Power Surges

Power surges happen most often in the daytime when the utility company is servicing infrastructure wires that bring power into your home. When power is turned on and off in a large capacity, power surges happen thus sending unbalanced and high amounts of voltage into your home.

A homeowner might think to just add a power strip to prevent power surges. The problem with these strips are that they only protect devices directly plugged in. To add adequate protection that will cover all electric devices in your home, you want to contact a residential service electrician and inquire about ‘panel-mounted breaker style surge suppression devices’.

This device prevents surges from entering the home before they reach the outlets. It will protect most devices that are plugged into a wall socket, like your washer or dryer. It will also protect most hard-wired devices such as your furnace and air conditioner, all of which get overlooked by plug strips.

Repeatedly Tripping Breaker

  • Bad electric device – Sometimes what you are plugging into your outlet is the culprit. Start by unplugging everything on the circuit and see if that stops the breaker from tripping. If that does work, then start plugging devices back in one by one to see which device is the defective one causing the breaker to trip.
  • Overloaded circuit – You should be able to run a hair dryer and toaster at the same time if your home is wired correctly. If you can’t run two electric devices like this at the same time without tripping the breaker then your circuit is overloaded.
  • Faulty wiring – A wire that is grounded to metal will trip a breaker. Sometimes wires wear out behind the walls and actually break in the conduit. When it breaks and exposed copper touches metal you will experience a tripped breaker.

Improperly Wired Outlets and Switches

“Back-stabbing” or the “Speed Install Method” of wiring switches and outlets is not reliable. With this method of installation, simply strip the wire exposing the copper and insert the wire in a friction fitting port at the back of the switch or plug. Once the friction fit is worn out and there is no longer a solid connection, the electricity will ‘arc’ or jump from metal contact to metal contact.

The arcing gets so hot it will melt a switch or outlet and will start to melt the insulation on the wire. This will ruin the wire and thus cause a situation in your home that is beyond a maintenance repair and increase the chances of an electrical fire. This is a perfect reason to perform annual maintenance on your system and keep an eye on those consumable parts.

Improper Grounding

Grounding is one of the ways we make your electrical system safe. You know when there’s a thunderstorm and you sometimes see lighting strike the ground? It does that because that’s the path of least resistance. Electricity always wants to follow the path of least resistance back to the earth.

If the path to ground is not created in your electrical system, then the electricity can potentially go through you or devices in the house as it searches for the path of least resistance.

 A primary ground to your water source as well as a secondary ground to your ground rod needs to be included to make these safeties function properly.

When it comes to fixing these five common electrical problems you should contact a residential electrician first. Education and safety are very important especially when handling and electrical repairs.
If you believe that your home is subject to any of these electrical problems, or a more unique situation, contact the team at Arnold Electrical Systems.

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