Home Electrical System Warning Signs

Posted November 26, 2013

We don't often think about electrical glitches around the home, but these little electrical issues can be a real hazard, causing house fires and electrical shock. Here are some of the most common electrical warning signs that could signal a more serious problem with your homes electrical system. 

1. Circuit Breakers That Repeatedly Trip. A tripped circuit is a sign that the breaker is working correctly to prevent an overload. However, if a breaker is repeatedly tripping, it could be a sign that there is too large an electrical load on the circuit. In most cases resetting the breaker restores power, but in some cases the breaker cannot be reset, and it keeps tripping. Never attempt to press a breaker if it won't reset, you're likely to start an electrical fire. If a breaker refuses to reset on the first try, leave it off and call an electrician. 

2. Lights That Flicker Or Turn Off Unexpectedly. In some cases this is just a loose light bulb. However, it could also be a sign of a loose wiring connection or a light fixture that has worn out and is in need of replacement. Turn off the power to the fixture and investigate the supply wiring and the fixture itself. A qualified electrician should inspect the wiring and test the circuit breaker to ensure it's operating safely. 

3. Outlet Face Plates That Are Warm To The Touch. Heat is a symptom of resistance caused by excessive electrical load operating on an outlet, improperly sized wiring or a loose electrical connection. Note that It's common for dimmer switches to be warm. Unless the face plate itself is actually too hot to touch, a warm dimmer switch or dial is not a sign of a problem in most cases. 

4. Loose Switches and Outlets. Loose switches or outlet that are not properly mounted to the electrical box could cause overheating and a short circuit. Shut off power to the switch or outlet, remove the faceplate and ensure that it is securely attached to the stud. 

5. GFCI Outlets That Trip Repeatedly. If an appliance or tool repeatedly trips a GFCI, try plugging it into another GFCI outlet. If it keeps tripping the circuit, the appliance or tool may be the problem. If it works, the ground fault or GFCI outlet receptacle is likely defective and should be replaced.

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