As a homeowner, I know how frustrating and dangerous electrical faults can be. From flickering lights to tripping breakers, these issues need to be addressed quickly and correctly. However, most electricians seem to make the solutions more complicated and expensive than they need to be.

After doing some research and self-troubleshooting, I've discovered some little-known tricks that have helped me solve many electrical faults in my home. Keep reading to learn the secrets professional electricians would rather I didn't know.

Identifying the Source of the Problem

The first step in any electrical repair is identifying where the fault originates. Here are some of the best ways I've found to pinpoint the problematic circuit or device:

Check the Breaker Box

The breaker box is the central hub of your home's electrical system. Flipped breakers or warm breakers often indicate a short or overloaded circuit. By identifying which breaker is affected, you can narrow down the location of the fault.

Turn Off Devices Selectively

If the breaker isn't tripped, methodically turn off devices, lights, and outlets room by room. When the issue resolves, you've likely isolated the source.

Use Outlet Testers

Outlet testers are inexpensive devices that plug into outlets to detect common wiring faults. I keep several on hand to quickly diagnose:

Thermal Imaging Cameras

For tricky electrical gremlins, a thermal imaging camera can detect hot spots that point to problem junction boxes, wires, or devices. I was able to borrow one to diagnose an issue that stumped even the electrician.

Simple Fixes for Common Faults

In many cases, I've been able to fix electrical issues around my home without calling an electrician. Here are some of the most common solutions:

Resetting Tripped GFCI Outlets

GFCI outlets protect against shock by monitoring electricity flow. They trip easily, cutting power. Before replacing, try:

Replacing Faulty Outlets and Switches

Outlets and light switches eventually wear out and need replacement. Warning signs include:

Replacing defective switches and outlets is a basic DIY project. Just be sure to:

Fixing Loose Wire Connections

Electricity flows through wires connected to outlets, switches, and appliances. Over time, vibrations can loosen the connections resulting in shorts. Here's how to fix this:

Balancing Overloaded Circuits

If you're tripping breakers or blowing fuses when too many devices are running, you likely have an overloaded circuit. Solutions include:

When to Call an Electrician

While many electrical issues can be DIY repairs, some situations do require a professional electrician:

Major Rewiring or Panel Upgrades

Any changes to the home's wiring or breaker panel require permits and professional work for safety.

Unknown Problems

If you can't determine the source of the electrical problem after troubleshooting, it's best to call an electrician rather than continuing to guess.

No Power to the Entire Home

A complete loss of power usually indicates a problem with the main service panel or meter box outside. Only the power company or an electrician can safely investigate.

Signs of Damage

Burn marks or melted wires point to serious underlying issues an electrician should handle.


By learning some basic electrical troubleshooting techniques, I've been able to fix many problems in my home without electrician house calls. However, safety should always be the top priority - call a professional when in doubt. Understand your limits, turn off power before attempting any DIY repairs, and ask an electrician when necessary. Follow these guidelines, and you'll master residential electrical fault-finding in no time!