While there are plenty of home projects suitable for do-it-yourself approaches, electrical work is rarely among them. Your home’s electrical system is highly complex, often difficult to access, and, most important of all, hazardous. It is important for your local electrician to keep you safe. Today, most homes have about 220 to 240 volts coming in from the main power line, with an amperage of between 100 and 400 amps, depending on the house’s age and the electrical system’s nature. It takes only 0.01 amp to create a painful shock and 0.1 to 0.2 amps to kill a person.
When it comes to your home’s electrical systems, then don’t mess around. Always opt on the side of caution and contact a qualified, licensed, and insured electrical professional. If you have a sudden power loss and see wires hanging loose, or if there’s smoke or fire from a wire, then it’s evident that you need a professional’s help. And, of course, you should always hire a qualified local electrician for new construction, inspecting a new home purchase, or after your home has suffered significant damage from flooding, fire, or other perils.
Other clues that you need to hire help, though, are less obvious. Here are eight signs that signal it’s time to call your local electrician.
1. Age of Home
Older electrical systems can be inefficient and even hazardous. If your house is over 25 years of age and hasn’t had an electrical upgrade, it’s time to call your electrician and start the process of updating the whole system. This is especially important if your home was built between 1965 and 1975 when new construction often used aluminum wiring, which is prone to developing loose connections over time that can arc, spark, and start fires. If your house was built before 1940, it might have old knob-and-tube wiring, which should certainly be replaced.
The main service panel is the heart of your home’s electrical system and must be kept in good working shape. Inspect the panel regularly. If you see visible damage from smoldering, moisture build-up, or rust, there is likely a severe underlying problem that could put the wiring connections at risk. Bring in a professional electrician to determine if the problem can simply be repaired or if a whole new panel needs to be installed.
3. Outlet Update
Wall outlets have come a long way over the past twenty years. If yours haven’t been updated in the past couple of decades, the time to do so is now. One essential update is to make sure that any outlets near water sources (such as sinks, showers, toilets, or bathtubs) and in grounded areas (such as the garage or basement) have ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs). Without these, your home is not only out of code compliance, it’s also not safe. If your outlets can only take two-pronged plugs, it suggests that your home’s electrical system is likely out of date and not fully grounded.
4. Heat and Sparks
It probably goes without saying, but since it’s so dangerous, it bears saying: if an outlet, switch, or other surfaces in your home’s electrical system feels warm to the touch or if it sparks or gives a shock when operated, you must contact an electrician promptly. Be on the lookout, too, for any dark smoldering marks near switch plates, terminals, or wire-ends, which is often a sign of an overloaded circuit or even wiring damage. And don’t neglect your sense of smell: if you detect the odor of smoke or an unaccountable fish-like odor, you may have the start of an electrical fire.
the wiring insulation under your switch covers and outlet plates. Suppose you see fabric insulation or black rubber insulation. In that case, it’s time to hire an electrician to replace it with safer and more modern materials, such as polypropylene, polyurethane, nylon, or a thermoplastic elastomer. And remember that those switch covers and outlet plates are likely just the tip of the iceberg: you should have the electrician do similar updates to wiring insulation in places around the house not as easily accessible to you.
6. Insufficient Outlets
Running lots of extension cords around your house is a clear sign that you have an insufficient number of outlets to safely meet your family’s needs. Your local electrician can easily install additional outlets, appropriately placed and wired to be both safe and convenient.
7. Overly-Burdened Outlets
Ideally, a two-socket outlet should only ever have two things plugged into it, but on occasion, you might use a power strip or a multi-socket receptacle to increase the number of appliances, lights, and other electrical items that you can power through it. This should only be done in moderation, though, as having too many things plugged into a single outlet can create a dangerous electrical system burden. If you find that you have lots of add-ons plugged into your outlets, it’s clear that your electrical system’s capacity is being taxed and could lead to a fire. Call an electrician to wire additional circuits for more duplex receptacles around your house.
8. Electrical Failure
Intermittent or complete electrical failures are almost always a red flag for fundamental problems with your electrical system, and those problems can lead to dangerous conditions. If you run an appliance and the lights dim or flicker, you may be over-burdening the circuit; an electrician can solve the problem by running a new 20-amp line for the appliance. If your circuit breakers are constantly tripping or fuses are blowing all the time, either the current being drawn exceeds the system’s capacity, or there is a fault in a circuit that could result in a fire. Have it addressed immediately.
Attaboy Electrician Littleton serves the Littleton metro area with superior quality and reliable residential electrician services. Our certified technicians and Master Electricians provide professional, affordable service and electrical repairs. Attaboy Electrician Services does home rewiring, electrical installations including breaker panels, electrical panel repairs, lighting installation services, and appliance installations. Call us today at (303) 288-2269 to schedule an appointment!