Are You Suffering Electrical Problems?
Many electrical problems are obvious – a switch crackles, a breaker keeps tripping, there are scorch marks on the wall above an outlet, for example. If any of these occur in your home, you are going to notice and do something about it. But there are many problems that are hidden, or are not regarded as problems by the homeowner and are only discovered and pointed out following a home inspection. They can be just as dangerous as the more obvious issues, sometimes even more so. Some of these potential dangers discussed below.
Overlamping means using a light bulb with a higher wattage than the rating of the light fixture. As the bulb draws more power than the fixture can handle, overheating can damage the socket and the plastic covering on the wire. This can result in arcing and an electrical fire. It is important to check and not exceed the maximum wattage marked on the fixture. If you have older fixtures which are not rated, use bulbs of 60 watts or less, to be on the safe side.
Lack of GCFIs
Ground-fault circuit-interrupters (GFCIs) are now fitted as standard in areas where electricity is close to water, but may not be present in older buildings. They work by shutting off the current if the flow of electricity varies. In kitchens or bathrooms without such protection, outlets with GFCIs built in should be fitted as the risks are high. The GFCI should be regularly tested, by using the ‘test’ and ‘reset’ buttons, to ensure it is working properly.
Adding more circuits into an electrical panel that it has been designed to accommodate is a violation of the National Electrical Code. It will certainly be picked up if you are trying to sell your home and can lead to problems. This can be fixed with either a panel upgrade or the installation of a sub panel to handle all the circuits you need.
Extension cords are designed for use as a temporary measure, for the short term operation of appliances or tools around the home. Most extension cords are not suitable for use outdoors. Over use of extension cords can create a tripping hazard and lead to circuits becoming overloaded which creates a fire risk. The situation can be easily remedied by the installation of additional outlets.
Plugs fall out of Outlet
If the contacts inside an outlet have worn loose, they will no longer be able to grip the prongs of a plug. Not only does this make the receptacle useless, it can also give rise to an arc fault which is a major fire hazard. The outlet should be replaced with a new one.
Uncovered outlets, junction boxes, switches
If an outlet covers gets broken and falls off, it should be replaced as soon as possible. Anyone touching an uncovered outlet, junction box, switch or any electrical connection is at risk of suffering an electric shock. This problem is easily fixed by sourcing the correct cover and fitting it.
Some of the issues described here can be quickly and easily remedied. Others need the expertise of a licensed professional electrician to ensure that the work is carried out safely and complies with the National Electrical Code. As we all use electricity every day, it is easy to forget how dangerous it can be. Electrical problems need to be addressed quickly and before they have a chance to escalate and seriously damage your property or cause an injury.