Electrical problems are some of the most frustrating issues that homeowners face. Not only can they be dangerous, but they can also be quite costly to repair. The complexity of electrical systems poses a challenge when diagnosing and fixing common problems. However, if you know electrical systems, you can always diagnose and remedy common electrical issues.
As a homeowner, learning how to handle some common electrical problems can save you money and keep your property safe. Whether you’re dealing with flickering lights, a faulty circuit breaker, or a dimmer switch that doesn’t work correctly, our tips will help you diagnose and fix the problem.
Overlapping occurs when a light bulb with a higher wattage than the fixture is designed for is used. The bulb’s intense heat can scorch or melt the socket and insulation on the fixture’s wires, which increases the risk of arcing – sparks that jump through the air from one wire to another – a chief cause of electrical fires. The damage to the socket and wires remains even after the bulb has been removed.
If it is not marked, assume it is an older fixture and use only 60-watt bulbs or smaller ones. To diagnose an overlapping problem, start by checking the wattage limit on the fixture. If you have already used a higher-wattage bulb in the fixture, inspect the socket and wiring for signs of damage or melting. If you see any damage, stop using the fixture immediately and call a licensed electrician (Elektrikervakt) for repair.
Fixing an overlapping problem can be as simple as replacing the bulb with a lower wattage. However, if damage has occurred, the fixture may need to be replaced or repaired by a licensed electrician. Attempting electrical repairs with others is important, as this can be extremely dangerous.
2. Uncovered Junction Boxes
A junction box is a metal or plastic box that houses the splices where wires are connected. These splices are necessary to connect wires too short or too far apart to reach each other. The wires would be exposed and vulnerable to damage without a junction box. An uncovered junction box is simply a junction box without a cover.
An uncovered junction box is a code violation because it exposes wires and splices to potential damage and contact with people. If someone accidentally touches the wires or the splices, they could get an electrical shock. Additionally, the wires could become damaged by exposure to the elements or accidental contact with objects.
The danger level of an uncovered junction box is minimal, as long as the wires aren’t within reach. However, you never know when someone might accidentally touch or try to adjust the wires, which could lead to serious injury or damage. It’s always best to err on the side of caution and cover your junction boxes.
3. Flickering Lights When It’s Windy
Flickering lights when windy is often a sign of frayed wiring in the Weatherhead. The weatherhead is the outdoor fitting where overhead cables from the power line come into the house. When the cables move in the wind, the frayed wiring causes a short, resulting in flickering lights.
Flickering lights caused by frayed wiring in the weatherhead is not a code violation. However, it is important to note that the danger level is high, and the issue should be addressed promptly.
The best solution is to contact your area’s electric utility company. In many cases, they will replace the weatherhead at no charge. This solves the immediate issue of flickering lights and ensures the safety of your home and family.
4. Too Few Outlets
Do you need more outlets in your home? Are you constantly relying on extension cords and power strips to power your devices? If so, you are not alone. Many older homes need to be built with more outlets to accommodate modern technology and appliances.
The best solution is to add more outlets to your home. This can be done by hiring an electrician to install additional outlets. Expect to pay about $100 per first-floor outlet and double that for second-floor work. Remember that there will likely be a minimum charge associated with this work.
Adding outlets to your home requires cutting holes in walls and ceilings to snake the wires. Some electricians will patch the holes, while others may leave the patching to you. It is important to discuss this with your electrician before hiring them for the job.
5. No GFCIs
GFCIs are devices that quickly shut down electrical circuits in the event of a ground fault. This means that if an electrical current were to “leak” from an appliance or tool and come into contact with a person, the GFCI would sense the imbalance and immediately cut off power to the outlet. This all happens in milliseconds, preventing a potentially fatal shock.
Unfortunately, many older homes were not built to include GFCIs in all areas now required by code. This means some homeowners may have outlets in their bathrooms or kitchens that lack this vital safety feature. While it may not be a code violation if the outlet was “grandfathered in,” it still poses a high risk for anyone who uses those outlets.
The solution is simple: replace the older outlets with GFCIs. These can be purchased for around $12 each, and many homeowners may be able to install them themselves. However, if you are not experienced with electrical work, it may be best to hire an electrician to ensure the installation is done correctly. Expect to pay around $20 per outlet for an electrician’s services.
6. Overwired Panel
An over wired panel is a panel that contains more circuits than it is rated to handle. This can happen when too many single-pole breakers have been replaced with tandem breakers in one slot. Tandem breakers differ from high-amp double-pole breakers, which only use two slots with one circuit. Each panel has a label specifying how many circuits it can accommodate; exceeding that number can be a code violation.
While an overwired panel may not pose an immediate danger, it can become an issue when you try to sell your home. An inspector will likely check the panel and note any code violations during an inspection. This could cause delays or even prevent the sale of your home.
So, what’s the solution to an overwired panel? Fortunately, there are a couple of options. One option is to add a subpanel with a few extra slots. This typically costs around $250 and can provide the additional circuits you need without replacing the entire panel. Another option is to replace the existing panel with a larger model. This can cost anywhere from $500 to $800, but it may be the best option if you plan major home improvements requiring additional circuits.
Electrical problems can be daunting for homeowners, but they can be easily diagnosed and fixed with the right knowledge. The safety of your property and loved ones is paramount, and taking the necessary steps to address electrical issues is crucial. By following the six tips outlined in this article, you can identify and remedy common electrical problems, saving you both time and money in the long run. Feel free to seek professional help if you need help handling a particular electrical issue. Remember, prevention is always better than cure for electrical problems.