A malfunctioning electrical system is not something you want to tackle on your own. Rather, it’s a job for an electrician who has the skills and experience to handle your electric issues safely.
Luckily, there are several signs you can watch out for that indicate it’s time to call an electrician.
1. Flickering Lights
Flickering lights can be annoying, but they’re also a sign of serious electrical issues. They’re not always easy to fix, and ignoring them can result in an electrical fire that is dangerous for you and your family.
Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to tell when you’re dealing with an issue that needs professional attention. These include flickering lights, dead outlets, sparking outlets and circuit breakers tripping.
One Light Flickering Probable Cause: If the light flickers on and off only in one specific area of your home, it’s probably a bulb that is defective or loose in its socket. This type of problem can usually be fixed by changing the bulb or screwing it more tightly into its socket.
Two or More Lights in a Single Area Flickering Probable Cause: This type of problem may be due to a circuit overload, especially when one or more large appliances are running. If this is the case, it’s best to call an electrician for more help.
Three or More Lights in a Single Area Probable Cause: This problem is more serious, so it’s important to call an electrician as soon as you see this happening. It could be a loose connection in the wiring or in the switch box, and it should be addressed immediately to avoid a house fire.
Four or More Lights in a Single Area Non-Probable Cause: This kind of situation is usually caused by outdated wiring that’s faulty and needs to be replaced. A qualified electrician will be able to replace it and repair your home’s electrical system.
Another common culprit is a fault in your electric company’s main transformer or service cable. These types of connections are high-capacity wires that need to be tightened or replaced to ensure proper power distribution. This is especially a problem when homes share the same transformer. It’s best to have an electrician inspect these connections and make sure they are not causing any problems for you or your neighbors.
2. Dead Outlets
Dead outlets are a frustrating and dangerous problem. They can cause electrical fires and electrocution, so you need to fix them as soon as possible.
The first step is to determine what is causing the outlet to not work. The most common reason for a dead outlet is that the circuit breaker has tripped. When a breaker trips, it shuts off the power to an entire circuit, which is a safety measure. This can prevent a dangerous system overload that could lead to an electrical fire.
Another common cause of a dead outlet is a problem with the wiring. This can happen when the wires are loose or broken. You can fix this issue by tightening the connections or replacing the wires, depending on the nature of the problem.
If you notice a dead outlet that is a GFCI outlet, you need to check that there is a reset button on the receptacle. These are required in locations where electric shock hazards are high, so they shut off electricity when they detect an unintended path for the current to follow.
In the case that there is no reset button, you can still try to restore power to the outlet by pushing it in and resetting the breaker. You can then check for other dead outlets that are plugged into this circuit breaker.
You can also check to see if there is a switch controlling the outlet that is not working. Some outlets turn on with a switch, allowing you to use a lamp while charging your phone or other devices without having to worry about tripping the circuit breaker. If you do not want the switch to control your outlet, you can have an electrician rewire it so that the outlet turns on on its own.
If you don’t know where to start or what is wrong, you should call an electrician. They have the tools, knowledge, and skills necessary to troubleshoot the problem quickly and accurately. They can then identify the source of the problem and resolve it safely. They can also provide advice and recommendations on how to avoid the same problem in the future.
3. Sparking Outlets
Sparking outlets are a very common sight, and they can be a very dangerous occurrence. Fortunately, you can generally avoid them with some simple precautions and maintenance. However, if you notice sparks frequently, there may be something more sinister at work.
Electricity is constantly running through your home on different circuits before being brought back to the main grid. When you plug something into an outlet, a brief spark can occur as the electricity runs across the metal to complete its circuit. This is usually harmless, but if you notice a spark more often than usual or the outlet seems to be emitting large sparks that leap from the plug, it’s time for some electrical repairs.
One of the most common causes of sparking outlets is faulty wiring. This is particularly true in older homes where wiring has not been updated over the years. The wires can fall out of place or come into contact with each other, causing a short circuit.
Another problem that can cause sparking outlets is water damage. This could occur due to a leaky pipe, or as a result of flooding. If you notice a flooded outlet, shut off the power at the breaker and call an electrician immediately.
Older outlets are also known to have issues with loose wiring, which can lead to a short circuit and sparks. If this is the case, your old outlet should be replaced with a new, GFCI-rated unit.
In addition to the obvious dangers of a sparking outlet, there are several other potential problems you should be aware of. These include:
Water in an Outlet – This is a very obvious risk, but it’s easy to overlook. It can be extremely dangerous to have water in close proximity to an outlet, and the presence of water is a leading cause of electrical fires.
Poor or Lazy Outlet Repair – Faulty outlet repairs can also spark, so be sure to choose only a professional who can handle the work with safety in mind.
Sparks can also be a sign of other problems, such as hidden leaks, worn-out electrical components, or an overloaded outlet. In addition, they can even trigger a blackout when an outlet sparks too much.
4. Circuit Breakers Tripping
Circuit breakers are small metal boxes (service panels) that regulate the flow of electricity in your home. Each breaker has an on/off switch that controls a separate electrical circuit within your house. When a breaker senses excessive current flow, it automatically trips and shuts off the line in order to prevent damage, overheating and fire.
There are many reasons that circuit breakers trip, but a few of the most common are overloads, short circuits and ground faults. If a circuit keeps tripping, it is probably time to call an electrician for repair work.
Overloads occur when an appliance or light fixture draws more power than it is designed to use. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as using an appliance that is too large or running a lot of appliances at once. Other causes of overloaded current include corroded or loose connections in your wiring system.
Another major cause of overloaded current is a short circuit, which involves a hot wire coming into contact with a neutral or copper ground wire. When a hot wire touches a neutral wire, it eliminates any electrical resistance in the wire and allows excess current to flow through the circuit.
As a result, the circuit will overheat and the breaker will keep tripping. This is a serious problem, but one that can be repaired by an experienced electrician.
A short circuit also causes your breaker to trip, but it is more dangerous than an overloaded current. It can lead to electric shock, overheating, electrical fire and arc flash.
To check for a short circuit, unplug everything from your electrical panel that is connected to the tripped circuit. Wait a few minutes and then plug in or turn on a device to see if the breaker will trip again.
If it does, try plugging in other devices and turning on lights in the area where your breaker is tripping. This will help you figure out the specific item causing the overloaded current.
If you find that the tripped circuit is an issue in only a few areas, it may be time to call an electrician for repair work. The seasoned team at Buell Electric will assess your house and determine if you need repairs or upgrades to fix the problem.