How Do I Tell If an Electrical Issue Is Serious?
It's easy to take your electrical system for granted while everything's working correctly, but what happens when things malfunction?
Electrical repairs are often dangerous for inexperienced homeowners. Many situations are best left to an electrician who knows how to work with electrical wiring and other electrical components safely.
As a general rule, it's always best to call an electrician if you don't feel comfortable dealing with your home's electrical system. The risk of electrical shock or fires is high if you don't know what you're doing. Some minor electrical work, such as resetting a breaker and replacing fuses, outlets and light fixtures, can be DIY projects if you practice electrical safety. Always make sure the power is turned off and check it with a voltage tester to ensure there's no power running to the wires.
You should hire an electrician for more serious electrical problems, including the following:
Circuit breakers can have many issues that cause them to trip frequently, including overloaded circuits, ground faults, short circuits, arc faults and worn breakers. Replacing the panel and fixing the issues might require a permit and a licensed electrician to do the work. Even if a permit isn't required, this is a major job with a lot of power coming through the breaker and should be handled by a professional. A mistake in the panel replacement could increase the risk of an electrical fire.
Electric wiring doesn't last forever. Faulty wiring can cause lots of issues, such as flickering lights, scorch marks, burning smells and buzzing sounds. You'll want an electrician to diagnose the problem and replace the bad wiring to ensure it's connected correctly.
Power surges occasionally happen due to storms or issues from the power company, but they shouldn't be a frequent occurrence or happen without explanation. If they do, there could be an issue with your wiring. Since it can be difficult to pinpoint and could require major repairs, calling an electrician is a good move in this situation. They can help identify and correct the problem to minimize surges, which helps protect your electronics from damage.
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Older homes often have repeated electrical problems due to outdated wiring. You might not have enough amps coming into your home to handle your electrical load, or the wiring might be a fire hazard due to its age. Older wiring typically doesn't meet current electrical codes. If it's time to update or replace your entire electrical system, always have a professional do the work. A licensed electrician knows the current building codes and can handle this large job quickly and safely.
If you want to expand your current electrical system, it's best to call an electrician. A licensed professional knows how to handle the electrical wiring and connect it to your breaker to balance the circuits.
A similar situation that requires an electrician is when you're adding onto your home or doing a major remodel that requires changes to the electrical system. These major jobs require permits and must meet strict building codes. An electrician knows how to set up the new space with proper outlets and lighting while avoiding overloaded circuits.
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Some electrical problems are obvious, but others can be more difficult to spot. The following signs could mean it's time to call an electrician:
- Lights that dim or flicker frequently
- Burning smell or smoke
- Buzzing, humming or other strange sounds from the electrical system
- Sparks from outlets or light fixtures
- Electrical shocks when you plug in appliances
- Breakers that frequently trip for no reason
When it comes to your electrical system, it's always better to be cautious. Paying for an electrician, even if you don't need one, can give you peace of mind and keep your home safe.
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