The symptoms of home electrical problems are not always easy to notice for the average homeowner. Here are four signs that you should hire an electrician to inspect your home's wiring.
Frequent Breaker Tripping
Your home's breakers are designed to protect your home from fire by shutting off a circuit before excess current causes the wiring to overheat. If a breaker is tripping frequently, this can either mean that the breaker is going bad or the circuit is regularly being overloaded. This means that the first step toward solving the problem is to determine if the breaker is faulty.
To test your breaker, you should first shut the breaker off and remove as many appliances from the circuit as possible to minimize the load on the circuit. After you have done this, you can turn the breaker back on. If the breaker trips again within the next 10 to 15 minutes, it is likely that the breaker is faulty. Replacing a faulty breaker is a project that virtually any homeowner can complete on their own. If the breaker only trips when the circuit is in use, you will need to contact a professional to check the wiring of the circuit.
Flickering or Dimming Lights
Lights that flicker and dim can have a number of causes depending on the number of bulbs that are affected. If a single bulb is flickering, naturally the most likely cause is that the bulb is loose or needs to be replaced. If all of the lights on a single fixture are flickering, it is possible that there is faulty wiring inside of the fixture.
Unlike flickering, dimming is often a sign that the amount of power that the circuit is sending to the lights is fluctuating. This is especially likely if multiple fixtures are affected or if the dimming occurs when you use another appliance on the same circuit. These power fluctuations often occur when a neutral wire on the circuit becomes loose or corroded, which is a problem that is best left to a professional.
A properly insulated electrical outlet will never feel hot to the touch. While certain devices that use internal transformers, such as cell phone and laptop chargers, may make an outlet slightly warm, it should never get so hot that it is painful or uncomfortable to touch. If you notice that an outlet is hot, you should unplug anything that is plugged into it immediately and turn off the breaker so you can assess the problem safely.
If the hot outlet is connected to a circuit with a breaker that has been tripping frequently, it is again most likely that electrical overload is the problem. If the breaker has not tripped, the next culprit is the wiring inside the outlet. You can attempt to replace the outlet yourself, but you should call an electrician if multiple outlets are overheating or if the replaced outlet continues to overheat.
Buzzing Sounds From Outlets or Light Fixtures
Like heat, buzzing is a clear indicator of a problem when associated with electricity. Properly working wiring should be completely silent. If you notice that light fixtures or outlets are making buzzing noises, loose connections or frayed wires are likely present. Buzzing from electrical appliances and outlets is often caused by electricity arcing, which could easily lead to a fire if sparks hit flammable materials.
Knowing the symptoms of home electrical problems is the first step in avoiding an electrical fire. Contact an electrician from a company like Lowry Services: Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling if you identify any of these problems so you can keep your home and you family safe from unnecessary harm.