All homeowners should have a basic understanding of the electricity in their homes. You don't have to be an electrician to get your brand new entertainment system set up, but you should know how to tell if it's about to cause a very expensive malfunction.
If you can spot problems early, you can be sure to get them fixed before they become a serious issue. We've put together a guide to help you identify some of the most common electrical problems that homeowners face. With this advice, you'll be able to better understand just what's happening in your house.
Read on for the eight electrical problems all homeowners should be aware of.
1. Electrical Surges
Texas is no stranger to tornadoes -- around 132 touch down in the state each year. If you live in an area that's prone to tornadoes, you've probably been worried about an electrical surge during a bad storm.
People usually only associate electrical surges with lightning strikes or downed power lines. These can be the cause of an electrical surge, but they're not the only culprits. If you notice frequent surges in your home, there might be a bigger problem.
Malfunctioning appliances and poor wiring can also cause surges. Too many of them can seriously damage your home's electrical system.
2. Broken Light Switches
You enter the living room, flip on the light switch...and nothing happens. What's going on?
If you've already checked to make sure that the light bulb hasn't blown out, you can safely assume that there's a larger problem in your home. Broken light switches could be a sign that your circuit has blown, that the wiring isn't working, or that there's a problem with the outlet.
If you've just moved in somewhere and a switch doesn't seem to be connected to anything, a fixture may have been disconnected. It's possible that the switch just doesn't activate anything anymore.
3. Loose Outlets
Loose outlets can be scary, especially if you have curious children. Luckily, you can easily fix this issue on your own. All you'll need are outlet shims and a screwdriver.
Before you do anything, turn off the breaker. You don't want to get a nasty shock as you're working. Next, go back inside and unscrew the cover plate to see the outlet.
Add outlet shims until the outlet is tightly against the wall again, then screw the cover plate back on.
You should never leave loose outlets unattended. They can be easily fixed, so there's no reason to ignore this safety hazard.
4. Warm Outlets
If your outlet is still in place but warm to the touch, that's a serious issue that shouldn't be ignored. Warm outlets are usually a sign that your wiring needs serious repairs.
You should call an electrician immediately to handle this problem. If left alone, your outlets could begin sparking and other dangers could arise.
Dimmer switches are the one exception to this rule. Dimmer switches that control above 300 watts might be slightly warmer as a result. You don't need to worry if you notice this -- it's normal!
A system short-circuiting is such a common struggle that we see it as a joke in movies and on television. A character is running late to something important and is blow drying her hair when all of a sudden -- nothing. The power has gone out.
Hair dryers are common culprits when it comes to short-circuiting, as are other appliances that suck up a lot of power. If you notice that your system stutters to a halt when you're using a specific appliance, that's the cause of your problem.
If it's not because of an appliance, it might be because of faulty wiring.
6. Light Bulbs Burning Out
We're not talking about the regular lifespan of a light bulb here. We mean when you notice that even when you put in a fresh bulb, it somehow seems to burn out in a matter of days. What gives?
If this happens to you a lot, there's probably a bad connection somewhere -- either in the socket itself or in the circuit. That can create a mini power surge, which is what's responsible for burning out your light bulbs.
Some homeowners assume that their electrical issues are due to overusing the light bulbs, but a poor connection is usually more likely. If you're not sure, don't be afraid to ask for a second opinion.
7. Arc Faults
Chances are you learned about electrical circuits at some point in school. Even if you're not an expert by any means, you might remember that circuits have to be "complete" to work. They have to form a loop.
If a circuit's path is messed up and the loop isn't formed, you get an arc fault. When you hear about electrical fires, an arc fault is probably the culprit.
You may want to look into installing an arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) to help prevent this from happening in your home. Professional electricians can install these for you.
8. Buzzing Noises
Some homeowners notice that whenever they turn on an outlet or a switch, there's a buzzing noise.
Don't just let this become white noise. Constant buzzing is a sign of an underlying problem -- your outlets and switches shouldn't make any noise. Your house should be (mostly) silent.
If you hear buzzing, go to the breaker and make sure that you turn off the power to that outlet. Then call a professional electrician to examine your system and determine what needs to be done to get it back to normal.
Stop Worrying About Electrical Problems
These are eight of the most common electrical problems that many Texas homeowners face. However, they don't have to be anxiety-inducing issues. With this guide, you can figure out the underlying cause.
If you do need to call an electrician, we are here to help.
Clements Electric has been serving Texas families since 1982. We're dedicated to making sure that your family home's electrical needs are met.
Whether you're looking to install new lighting or troubleshoot an existing system, we can help. Book an appointment with us today.