Do flickering lights, outlets that won’t work, or circuits that trip every time you turn on the hair dryer have you stumped? You’re not alone. In fact, home electrical problems are among the most common complaints homeowners have.
The good news is that most problems with home electrical systems are relatively easy to solve without calling an electrician. This guide will help you troubleshoot some of the most common issues and offer solutions for getting your home’s electricity back up and running in no time.
1. Overloaded Circuits
An overloaded circuit is a circuit that has too much electrical power flowing through it. An overloaded circuit occurs if too many devices are plugged into the same circuit or if one device is drawing too much power.
What Causes An Overloaded Circuit?
- Too many devices plugged into the same circuit
- Damaged or frayed wiring
- A faulty light fixture
- Oversized circuit breakers
- Old electrical panel
Signs Of An Overloaded Circuit
One of the most common signs of an overloaded circuit is flickering light bulbs, one of the more annoying symptoms of home electrical problems.
Another sign that you may have overloaded circuits is a tingling sensation when you touch an electrical appliance or plug in a cord.
Frequently Blowing Fuses
Suppose your home has fuses instead of circuit breakers. In that case, another sign of overloaded circuits is if you frequently replace blown fuses.
Warm Switches and Outlets
Another sign of overloaded circuits is warm switches and outlets. This happens because too much current is flowing through the wires.
Tripped Circuit Breakers
If your home has circuit breakers instead of fuses, one sign of overloaded circuits is if one or more of the breakers trips frequently.
How To Fix An Overloaded Circuit
The best way to fix an overloaded circuit is to contact a qualified electrical service technician. They can determine whether the problem is due to too many devices on one circuit, faulty wiring, or something else entirely. Once they’ve pinpointed the problem, they’ll be able to make the necessary repairs or recommend other solutions.
In some cases, moving some devices to another circuit may be all that’s needed to fix the problem.
2. Circuit Breaker Tripping Regularly
Suppose your electrical panel is up to date and working properly. In that case, circuit breakers are designed to trip or “blow” when there’s an electrical overload. Home electrical problems happen when you have too many devices drawing power from the circuit. This causes the circuit breaker to trip and shut off the power to prevent a fire.
If your circuit breaker is regularly tripping, then there’s probably something else going on.
What Causes A Circuit Breaker To Trip?
A Wiring Problem
If your home is more than 40 years old, then it’s possible that the wiring isn’t able to handle all the electrical devices that you have plugged in. This is especially true if you’ve added air conditioners, space heaters, or other high-wattage electrical appliances since you moved in.
A Faulty Appliance
If you have an appliance that’s constantly drawing power even when it’s not turned on, then it could be causing your circuit breaker to trip. The best way to determine if this is the problem is to unplug all your appliances except one. Then, turn off all the lights and other devices plugged into the same circuit as the appliance. If the circuit breaker doesn’t trip when just that one appliance is plugged in and turned on, then you know that one appliance is probably faulty and needs to be repaired or replaced.
A Short Circuit
This is one of the most common home electrical problems. A short circuit can also cause your circuit breaker to trip frequently. A short circuit occurs when there’s a break in the hot wire (the colored wire) or a loose connection between wires in the electrical box.
Ground Fault Interrupters
Ground fault interrupters (GFIs) are designed to protect people from electrical shock by shutting off power when there’s a ground fault (when electricity escapes from its intended path). GFIs can sometimes trip when they’re not supposed to, though, especially if they’re old or exposed to moisture.
If you have GFIs in your home, make sure they’re not loose and that they’re not located near any sources of moisture like sinks or bathtubs where they might get wet.
You should also test them regularly with a GFI tester (you can buy these online or at hardware stores) to ensure they work correctly.
Improperly Sized Circuit Breakers
Finally, if your electrical panel is more than 50 years old, then it’s possible that the circuit breakers aren’t sized properly for today’s electrical demands.
How To Fix A Regularly Tripping Circuit Breaker
If the solution isn’t provided in any of the above paragraphs, the best solution is to call an electrician. Trying to fix home electrical problems when you aren’t qualified can be very dangerous.
3. Power Sags
What Is A Power Sag?
A power sag is a short-term drop in voltage that typically lasts for less than a second. Since sags happen so quickly, most people don’t even realize they’ve occurred. However, if you have sensitive electronics in your home (like computers or TVs), you may notice that they reboot or shut off completely when a power sag happens.
While not dangerous in and of themselves, power sags can be annoying and costly if they damage your electronics.
What Causes Power Sags?
There are several possible causes of power sags, but the most common is simply an increase in demand for electricity. For example, suppose everyone on your street turns on their air conditioners simultaneously on a hot day. In that case, the sudden need for electricity may cause a power sag.
Power companies can typically meet small increases in demand without issue. Still, during extreme weather conditions (like heatwaves or cold snaps), it’s not uncommon for home electrical problems like sags to occur.
How To Fix Power Sags
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do to prevent power sags from happening. However, you can take steps to protect your electronics from damage.
One option is to invest in a UPS (uninterruptible power supply), which provides backup power in the event of a voltage drop. Additionally, ensuring your electronics are correctly plugged into surge protectors can help minimize damage from power sags.
4. Power Dips
What Is A Power Dip?
A power dip is similar to a power sag in that it’s also a brief voltage drop. However, unlike sags which last for less than 1 second, dips typically last 2 to 5 seconds.
Dips are also sometimes referred to as “brownouts”. Home electrical problems like these usually don’t cause severe damage. However, they can still be annoying (and costly) if they result in damaged electronics.
What Causes Power Dips?
As with power sags, dips are usually caused by an increase in demand for electricity. However, while sags are caused by small increases in demand, dips are typically caused by more significant increases in demand, like a user turning on industrial equipment. Problems with the electrical grid (like downed power lines) can also cause dips.
5. Power Surges
What Is A Power Surge?
A power surge–sometimes called a transient voltage spike–is an increase in voltage significantly above the design level of your electrical system.
The easiest way to determine if you’ve had a power surge is to look for physical signs of damage. If you find that electrical outlets or switches are charred, cracked, or show signs of melted plastic, it’s likely that you’ve had a power surge at some point.
What Causes Power Surges?
Surges can come from outside your home–say, from a lightning strike or downed power line–or be produced within your house by a large appliance switching on or off.
How To Fix Power Surges
Calling in a professional after experiencing electrical issues in your home is always the safest bet. They’ll be able to properly diagnose the problem and make all the necessary repairs.
6. Faulty Wiring
What Is Faulty Wiring?
Faulty wiring is any electrical wire that is damaged, corroded, or frayed. It’s a more dangerous and harder-to-fix home electrical problem.
What Causes Faulty Wiring?
There are a few different factors that can contribute to faulty wiring. These include:
- Physical damage: This can be caused by things like rodents chewing on wires, nails or screws piercing wires, or simply wear and tear over time
- Weather damage: Exposure to things like moisture, humidity, and extreme heat or cold can cause damage to wires. This is why it’s essential to keep an eye on your wiring if you live in an area with extreme weather conditions
- Old age: Wires are not designed to last forever. Over time, they will degrade and become brittle, which can lead to breakage
How To Fix Faulty Wiring
If you suspect faulty wiring in your home, it’s important to call a licensed electrician immediately. They can assess the situation and determine the best course of action. It’s essential to leave this kind of work to the professionals. Attempting to repair or replace your own wiring can be extremely dangerous.
7. Damaged Electrical Equipment
What Is Damaged Electrical Equipment?
Damaged electrical equipment is any outlet, switch, or piece of wiring that is not in good working condition. This can include loose outlets, switches that are hot to the touch, or wires that are frayed or exposed.
These home electrical issues are also best addressed by professionals.
What Causes Damaged Electrical Equipment?
There are a few different things that can cause this home electrical problem.
One of the most common causes is overloading circuits. This happens when too many devices are plugged into one circuit.
Another common cause of damaged electrical equipment is surging. This can be caused by lightning strikes, downed power lines, or even faulty appliances.
Finally, age and wear and tear can also cause damage to electrical equipment. Over time, outlets and switches can become loose, and wires can become frayed.
How To Fix Damaged Electrical Equipment
One option is to replace the damaged part with a new one. This is generally best for outlets and switches damaged by age or wear and tear.
Another option is to repair the damage using electrical tape or wire nuts. This is generally best for minor repairs, such as exposed wires. If you’re not comfortable making repairs yourself, you can always hire an electrician to do it for you.
8. Improper Installation
Improper installation is exactly how it sounds; your problems are caused by electrical wiring installed incorrectly. Most electrical work is performed by licensed electricians who follow local building codes. Still, some homeowners attempt do-it-yourself (DIY) wiring projects.
Improper installation of household electrical wiring is a dangerous and common problem that can cause fires, electrical shocks, and other serious safety hazards.
4 Warning Signs of Improper Installation
- Your home has frequent power outages
- You have flickering or dimming lights
- You have outlets that don’t work
- Sparks are coming out from your outlets
How To Fix Improper Installation
If you notice any of these warning signs in your home, you should contact a licensed electrician to come and inspect your home’s electrical system.
9. Scarcity Of Outlets
What Is Outlet Scarcity?
Outlet scarcity is when there aren’t enough outlets for all of your devices. This can result from several factors, including the age of your home and the number of appliances you own.
This is one of the more annoying but less dangerous home electrical problems on this list.
How To Fix Outlet Scarcity
One option is to install new outlets. This will require some electrical work, but adding new outlets to your home is generally not too difficult or expensive.
Another option is to use power strips and extension cords. Power strips and extension cords are great for temporarily increasing the number of outlets available in your home. However, they should not be used as a long-term solution because they can create safety hazards if not used properly.
Blue Sky Electric May Be Able To Help
Home electrical problems are common and can be a hassle to fix. But don’t worry, our team of experts is here to help. Fill out our contact form today, and a professional electrician will get back to you as soon as possible to help you diagnose electrical problems.
We look forward to hearing from you soon!