Seven Common Electrical Issues that Pop Up During the Holidays
When the temperatures drop and snow starts to accumulate, it usually means your home appliances are working harder compared to the rest of the year. Older homes can be another culprit for electrical issues as the wiring is usually outdated. Appliances and light fixtures in need of maintenance are also susceptible to electrical problems. Not all electrical issues, however, are the result of a lack of maintenance or old wiring. An electrical issue can happen at any time, but most of them can be prevented with the right care and practices. To be better prepared and safe, here are seven common electrical issues that can pop up this holiday season.
What the Electrical Problem Could Be and How You Can Prevent It
- Flickering lights. Considered one of the most common electrical problems, you might experience a few flickering lights. There are a few easy fixes you should try first as the problem might have to do with the bulb itself. Make sure the light bulb is tightly screwed in, if that doesn’t work, replace it with a new one. If replacing the bulb doesn’t seem to work, however, the issue is most likely a bad connection. Fixing any wiring issues should be left to a licensed electrician, as they can safely repair your light fixture.
- Burnt out light bulbs. A light bulb that burns out too quickly is another sign of an electrical issue. Most likely the issue is with the bulb itself, as a light bulb that burns out too quickly is either a bulb with high wattage, its left on too long, or its made of poor quality. The problem could also be that your power company is delivering more power than your light bulb is designed to handle, thus shortening their lifespan. Replacing the light bulbs in your house with ones that can receive a higher voltage might solve the problem.
- Sparking electrical outlets. Plugging into an outlet can occasionally cause a few sparks to fly, but not all sparks are harmless. A sparking outlet can be a sign of a much bigger electrical problem. When an outlet gets too hot, it can melt away the protective coating on the wires, causing electricity to jump through the bare wires. A sparking outlet should be treated by an electrician right away as it puts you at risk of an electrical fire.
- Non-functional outlets. If an outlet doesn’t seem to work at all, check the rest of your outlets. If multiple outlets aren’t providing power, check with your neighbor to see if they’re having a similar problem. If you’re not the only one experiencing multiple dead outlets, then the problem is with your power company and they should be contacted immediately. If you have one dead outlet, the problem could be a tripped circuit breaker. If flipping the circuit breaker switches doesn’t work, then the problem may be the outlet itself. Check for any scorch marks or discoloration, your outlet may have burned out and will need to be replaced.
- Circuit breaker frequently trips. Every homeowner deals with a tripped circuit breaker at some point, but if it frequently trips, it could be a number of problems. If your circuit breaker is tripping constantly, it could be overloaded. Take inventory of how many high wattage appliances you use at the same time. You can try plugging a few appliances into different outlets. You can also consider upgrading your electrical panel so it can handle a larger electrical load. Power surges, which can be caused by power outages, can also cause your circuit breaker to trip. A short circuit could also be the culprit, and it happens when an electrical current travels down a different path than it’s supposed to. Whatever is causing your circuit breaker to trip will need to be inspected by an electrician.
- Damaged and frayed wires. Be on the lookout for damaged, frayed, and exposed wires as they put you at risk of electrocution and electrical fires. Look for any patches of exposed wire, cuts, black or brown stains, or a nasty burning smell, as that usually indicates damaged wiring. If your home has damaged wires, replace them immediately.
- Buzzing sounds and foul odors. If there is an electrical issue, you might smell it or hear it before you see it. If you smell something foul or burning coming out of an outlet, leave it alone and call an electrician. Outlets and appliances that function normally should make little to no noise, but if a prong gets loose, an outlet’s damaged, or there’s a frayed wire, it can produce a buzzing sound. If you hear buzzing from any of your outlets, call an electrician immediately.
Keep your holiday lights shining bright – at the first sign of an electrical issue, be sure to call Papalia Home Services!