If you’re experiencing electrical problems in your home, it’s important to understand the cause. That way, you can take the appropriate steps to resolve the issue safely and avoid serious issues down the road.
A common warning sign that your wiring needs repair is dim or flickering lights, tripped circuit breakers or outlets that feel warm or spark. These are all indications that you should call an electrician for a full inspection of your wiring.
Your home depends on electricity to operate, so power surges can be frustrating. These spikes of voltage can damage your appliances and electronics.
Surges occur when an electrical system is tripped, or when electricity flows through a system that’s overloaded. They also come from external sources like lightning strikes or tree limbs coming in contact with your electric lines.
Internal surges, which happen dozens of times per day, can cause problems for your electronics. Smaller ones don’t have the ability to fry parts or blow fuses, but they can slowly eat away at electronic circuit boards.
You can help prevent internal surges by unplugging items that aren’t in use and by keeping your home’s wiring clean. This can prevent a lot of these internal power surges, and it can also save you money on your energy bills.
Some of the most common causes of internal power surges are overuse of extension cords and having too many appliances or electronic devices plugged into one circuit. Ideally, you’ll want to plug only your most energy-efficient items into the circuits that are designated for them.
The same is true of larger appliances, like air conditioners and refrigerators. When you unplug your fridge, you’re cutting off the flow of electricity to that item and preventing a potential electrical surge.
In addition, you should have your home’s wiring and electric systems checked regularly to make sure they’re working properly. This can help you prevent frequent surges and other electrical problems. It can also allow you to repair minor issues before they become serious. This is an inexpensive way to keep your family safe and your home functioning well.
Sags & Dips
Voltage sags and dips are a common power quality problem that can cause momentary interruptions, equipment malfunctions and outages. These short power interruptions may be caused by natural events, such as lightning strikes or snow storms or by human activities, like switching operations.
Electrical equipment is rated for operation at a specific voltage. When the supply voltage drops below the rated voltage, the equipment will experience a voltage sag or dip. The duration of these brief interruptions may be long enough to damage electronic equipment or corrupt data.
When it comes to voltage sags, there are a number of power line conditioning technologies that can help correct the issue. These include uninterruptible power supplies (UPS), constant voltage transformers (CVT) and solid-state sag correction devices.
These devices can be used at the plant service entrance or on individual machines to improve incoming power quality and prevent voltage sags from damaging sensitive electronics. They are a cost-effective way to eliminate nuisance tripping and malfunctioning of digital equipment and can also increase production output and productivity.
In semiconductor plants, for example, SEMI F47 recommends applying solid-state sag correction devices directly between the power supply and sensitive electronics. These devices have microprocessors that can detect a sag, activate within one-eighth of a cycle and provide a step-down voltage to the sensitive electronics.
The SEMI standard calls for a ride-through to 50% of the rated voltage for 200 milliseconds, which will significantly reduce the number of voltage sags that can damage semiconductor equipment. This will greatly reduce the risk of process disruptions and lost production time in such a critical industry.
In addition to using a solid-state sag correction device, it is important to monitor the power quality at all points in your system. This can be done with a power quality monitor that can record continuous waveforms and transmit them to your computer for analysis.
Dim switches are not uncommon in modern homes, but they can cause electrical problems. Fortunately, there are some ways to avoid these issues.
First, you should check the wiring. If it’s loose, it could cause arcing, which can make the switch and light flicker or dim. It’s best to have an electrician inspect your breaker panel and other wiring connections.
Second, you should try replacing the dimmer switch. It’s a good idea to buy the right dimmer for your home, so be sure to do your research.
Finally, you should replace the bulb that’s connected to the switch. You may need to change to a shorter-finned bulb or a higher-wattage one.
Another common cause of buzzing lights is that the dimmer switch is improperly sized for the bulb. Older switches often use variable resistors to control the current flowing from the switch to the light bulb, which can overheat and vibrate the filaments.
If the dimmer switch is overheating, it can melt the plastic components inside of it. This is a dangerous situation, as it can also damage the wires that are connecting it to the outlet.
If you notice that your dimmer switch is overheating, you should immediately remove it and call an electrician to fix the problem. You can also use a heat gun to get the dimmer to cool off. If you do that, you should still check to see if the issue persists.
High Wattage Appliances
Some appliances in your home require high wattage to run properly, and they can cause problems if they are not powered efficiently. It is best to check the wattage of each appliance before plugging it into an outlet. This will help you to avoid wasting electricity and lowering your energy bill.
Another issue caused by high wattage appliances is that they can overheat the wires and circuit breakers, leading to damage and fires. This can be especially true for large appliances that are rated to run for long periods of time, such as an electric fireplace.
You can find out how much power a specific appliance uses by checking the wattage label on the unit. The wattage is a measurement of the amount of power that the appliance consumes per hour.
For example, a hair dryer that is rated for 1,800 watts will use up a lot of power when used for a short period. This is why it is best to distribute the power consumption of high wattage appliances to a separate circuit.
Other electrical issues caused by high wattage devices include buzzing and dimming of lights and outlets. These are usually due to the excess current drawn by the device, and will result in a surge of voltage that may trip the circuit breaker.
If you are concerned about your home’s electrical safety, you can have an electrician inspect the outlets and wiring in your home. If there are any issues, he can fix them and prevent them from occurring in the future.
There are also certain appliances that suck power even when they aren’t plugged into an outlet, including televisions, computers, instant-on TVs, surround sound systems and cable and satellite boxes. These are called vampires and can be a major source of unnecessary electrical expenses, so it’s best to unplug these items when you’re not using them.
Tripped Circuit Breakers
When a circuit breaker trips, it shuts off the flow of electricity to that specific circuit in your home. This is a safety feature, designed to prevent electrical fires or injury.
There are a few common reasons why your breaker keeps tripping, and it’s important to understand what causes them before you can fix them. The three biggest causes are overloads, short circuits, and ground faults.
Overloads are caused by a greater electrical demand on a particular circuit than it’s meant to handle. This can happen if you have too many light fixtures or appliances going at once, and it’s a good idea to keep your electric load split among several circuits to minimize the chance of this happening.
The next time you have a tripped circuit breaker, test it to see if you can isolate the cause of the trip. Unplug all lamps, appliances, charging cables, and other devices from the tripped circuit, and flip the breaker back on. Then turn on the switches and plug in or turn on devices one at a time to see if the circuit will stay on.
If the tripped circuit is a result of an overloaded circuit, it’s important to address the issue quickly. Overloaded circuits can become dangerous if they overheat and start a fire.
Unlike overloaded circuits, short circuits are more dangerous because they can lead to an electrical fire. If you experience a short circuit, you should immediately call a licensed electrician to inspect and repair the wiring in your home.