We take electricity for granted. Until, of course, we don’t have it. If you’ve lived through a prolonged blackout you know what I mean. But not all electrical problems are caused by catastrophic events. You may find that your home’s electrical system isn’t keeping up with your needs because of increased electrical usage, causing problems like overloaded outlets, tripped circuit breakers, and more. And with more of us working from home and plugging in more equipment, like laptops, printers, monitors, televisions, and the like, it’s possible that you’ll begin to detect signs that your electrical system is in need of an upgrade.
Some upgrades are simple affairs, and some may require a more extensive makeover. Let’s take a moment to look at the basics of your electrical system and then examine five signs that your system needs an upgrade.
Let’s take a moment to understand how your electrical system works, and where the weak points of your current system may be. The electricity for your home enters at a single location, where it feeds into a circuit breaker panel. Think of this panel as the distribution center for power in your home. In the panel, there will be a number of circuit breakers, each feeding power to a different portion of your home — the kitchen, living room, bedroom, etc. If your home has an old circuit breaker panel, it may not have enough circuits to handle your current needs, or the individual circuit breakers may not have enough capacity to handle the demands you put upon them.
If the panel isn’t designed for the demands being placed upon it, it’s possible that excess heat will build up, causing your wiring’s insulation to melt. That can create sparks that will lead to a fire. And if the individual circuit breakers aren’t up to the demands of your home’s needs, they’ll be prone to trip and shut off power when you need it. That’s an inconvenience at best, and a danger at worst.
One of the most obvious and common signs of trouble with your electrical system is having one of your circuit breakers trip. You’ve started your morning coffee and fired up the toaster, but when you turn on the microwave, everything shuts off. That’s a clear indication that the individual circuit powering your kitchen isn’t up to the task.
The simplest and most obvious solution to this problem may seem to be to replace the circuit breaker supplying your kitchen with one that has a greater capacity. But this can create new problems if the wiring supplying the kitchen isn’t designed to handle the greater load. If you have problems with circuit breakers tripping, consult a qualified electrician or contractor so you can examine all of your options. A simple circuit breaker swap may do the job, but it may be necessary to add an extra circuit or upgrade your wiring to solve the problem.
If you ever touch a light switch or electrical outlet and find them unexpectedly warm, you could be facing a serious problem. This shouldn’t happen in a properly designed and maintained home electrical system. Consult with an electrician right away and have them check to see if your home’s wiring is up to the task you’re asking it to do.
Have you been afraid to look at the jumble of cables under your desk, or use caution to avoid tripping on extension cables when walking across the room? If you’re running out of wall outlets and find yourself relying on power strips, extension cords, and multi-outlet power taps to plug in your equipment you could be looking at a real problem.
Not only are these stopgap measures a messy solution, but you also run the risk of overloading the circuit that these extra outlets are plugged into, resulting in tripped breakers or overloaded wiring. Consult with an electrician about adding extra outlets in heavily used areas, and upgrading the wiring and circuit breaker for that room if necessary.
Dimming and flickering lights can indicate several potential problems with your home’s electrical system. To have an idea of what the problem is, you’ll need to categorize the behavior.
If flickering or dimming lights are an issue in your home, don’t delay. Get it checked out by a qualified electrician or electrical contractor.
If you notice any discoloration or what appears to be burn marks on or around any of your electrical outlets you may have a serious issue with your electrical system. Discoloration often indicates the presence of high temperatures in the outlets, which means that your circuits are carrying more current than they should. Outlets that experience excessive heat can experience failure, leading to sparking and the potential for fires.
If you’re handy around the home, you may be tempted to go the DIY route and fix electrical problems yourself. Proceed with caution before going down this route. While some very basic electrical issues, like replacing an outlet or light switch, may be suitable for the handy homeowner, more extensive issues should be diagnosed and repaired by qualified electricians. At Team Enoch, our electricians have the training and experience to tackle just about any electrical system problem, from small to large. Be sure to get in touch with us. Estimates are always free, and the job may be less expensive than you think!
Unresolved electrical problems can be more than just an inconvenience. They can directly affect the safety of your home and everyone who lives in it. Don’t delay if any of the signs we’ve discussed, or others, show up in your home. Schedule a check and get an estimate by getting in touch with one of our qualified electricians.