When you think of a home electrical problem, you may think they only happen in older homes, but that’s not the case. Homes of all ages, even newer homes, can have electrical issues. The good news is that most electrical problems show warning signs and if homeowners know what to look for, they can resolve them before they lead to property damage, or worse, a fire or serious injuries.
As with car problems or any mechanical problem, when you know the signs of a home electrical problem, you can make the necessary repairs before the electrical hazard causes property damage and creates a potentially dangerous situation for the household.
As a homeowner, it’s important to be aware that many electrical problems need to be diagnosed by a trained professional – they are not DIY projects. Let’s take a look at three common signs of a home electrical problem:
1. Problems with the circuit breaker.
The purpose of a circuit breaker is to trip when a circuit is overloaded. When an electrical supply is overloaded, the circuit breaker trips or shuts it off. By tripping, the circuit breaker prevents the wires from getting too hot and possibly starting an electrical fire.
Breakers for ex ample, can trip when you have a space heater and a hair dryer going at the same time, but they can also trip when they’re old. If you experience occasional tripping, it can be an indication of a simple overload. If the breakers seem to trip under the same conditions, try plugging in one of the appliances into a different circuit and see if that fixes the problem.
If the circuit breaker trips on a regular basis and using different circuits don’t seem to fix the problem, it’s time to contact an electrician. Electrical panels should not be handled by untrained people – they require skill and should only be dealt with by an experienced professional. If your home was built between 1950 and 1990, check your panel to see if its breakers were made by Federal Pacific. Their Stab-Lok breakers are not safe and should be replaced.
2. You have flickering lights.
If your lights are flickering, the culprit could be a loose or defective light bulb, but if changing the bulb doesn’t stop the lights from flickering, the cause can have to do with the light fixture itself, the connections to the light fixture, or the electrical wiring in the circuit breaker box could be loose. It’s best to consult with an electrician.
3. You notice sparks or a burning odor.
If you see sparks or smell a burning order coming from your electrical outlets or switches, shut off the power at the electrical panel and contact an experienced electrician so they can make the necessary repairs. The cause is likely a wiring or overload problem, or the issue could be a faulty device.