We depend upon electricity to bring living comfort into our homes. It controls the temperature of the interior, powers appliances and all kinds of electronic devices.
We tend to take its many benefits for granted until suddenly, we start having electrical malfunctions, or we lose power altogether. The worst case scenario is a destructive and catastrophic house fire that may even cause lost lives.
All systems start to give off signs of trouble before catastrophe strikes, and your house electrical system is no exception. There are telltale signs along the way that should evoke prompt action to avert worse, major events.
The list below gives some valuable insight into what to look for and how to manage these signals that something may be wrong with your electricity delivery system to the home.
Often, one of the first indications that there are electrical issues is that overhead lights and even lamps suddenly go dim then recover quickly. Bulbs in certain rooms may blow more often than other rooms. This can point to a wiring issue, or it can be what is known as an electrical current surge.
Power coming into the house through the main power panel is not always a consistent flow. The rate of electrical current flow may at times slightly overwhelm the electrical system originally installed in the house.
This can be expected in houses older than 25 years of age. Electrical systems, like roofs and exteriors, grow weaker with age and weathering.
A total house rewiring is the best, safest option for these older structures.
Often occupants may notice a scorched smell, or the faint odor of debris and leaves being burnt in a room or an entire area of the residence.
These seemingly random ghost odors can point to a wiring problem along the routed wires in the attic. Such a repeated occurrence should not be ignored, but they should be used to pinpoint the area that needs to be inspected for wear or rodent damage.
Wall switches that have a brief hesitation when switched on or a delay when switching off need to be examined. You must remember that these switches used in the common areas of the house receive regular, constant use.
Over time, the switch gradually wears out. Worn switches are not reliable, and they can pose real danger to occupants.
Have a certified electrician replace them as needed, or have them all replaced at the same time since they were all installed as part of the original structure. Doing so avoids the added expense of additional service calls to address the same problem.
Like switches, outlets also wear, and they can cause sparking or a longer spark known as arcing. This accounts for many house fires.
Worn outlets may have noticeable wear at the plug receptacles, the vertical slits in the outlet. They may have a weaker hold when you plug in an appliance.
These are all signs there may be electrical issues within the whole-house system.
Fuses or Circuit Breakers
Fuses began to get replaced with some form of circuit breakers around 1935, and the replacement trend really took off after World War II.
Blown fuses are usually easy to spot and replace. You simply screw out the blown one, and a replacement takes its place much like a breaker that you snap out and wire back into place.
If the fuses or circuit breakers need replacement often, this points to a worn and perhaps dangerously old electrical system.
The electrical system is a closed system, and the slightest breach of that system evidenced by the signals above needs addressing immediately.
These problems can be wiring-related with either the wiring wearing out or breaking. The other primary source for electrical ‘leaks’ are the connections that link the entire system together as a unit. Every connection within the system is a potential source of a dangerous electrical system malfunction.
In answer to the question posed in the title of this article, if you have any of the issues briefly detailed above, you need electrical maintenance.
Please do not trust that maintenance to anyone but a certified electrician.