How to Fix the Most Overlooked Electrical Issue in Your Home


Having electrical issues in your home can be frustrating and potentially dangerous if left unchecked. However, many homeowners overlook one of the most common electrical problems - loose electrical connections. Though easy to fix yourself, loose connections account for a large percentage of electrical fires and other hazards. This article will walk you through how to check for and repair loose electrical connections in your home.

Why Loose Connections Are a Problem

Loose connections occur when the wires inside an electrical outlet, switch, or other device are not making a tight connection. This can happen due to:

When connections are loose, resistance increases. This causes excess heat production which can melt wire insulation, burn surrounding materials, or even lead to fires. Loose connections also lead to:

So while loose connections may seem like a minor issue, they can quickly become hazardous if left unaddressed.

How to Check for Loose Connections

Finding loose connections is straightforward, but does take some investigation. Here are a few ways to check:

Visual Inspection

Wiggle Test

Thermal Imaging

Voltage Drop Test

How to Repair a Loose Connection

If you confirm a loose connection, it's fairly simple to make the repair:

  1. Turn OFF power to the circuit at the main breaker panel. Verify it's off by testing with a multimeter or outlet tester.

  2. Remove the cover plate from the outlet or switch.

  3. Unscrew the terminal screws to release the affected wire. Avoid pulling on the wire itself.

  4. Clean the wire ends and terminal with steel wool to remove any corrosion.

  5. Re-wrap the bare wire tightly around the terminal in a clockwise direction.

  6. Secure with the terminal screw, tightening it down snugly with a screwdriver. Do not over-tighten.

  7. Carefully bend wires back into the box and replace the cover plate.

  8. Restore power and verify everything is working properly. Check for signs of overheating.

For high-use electrical devices, also apply dielectric grease to the wire terminals when reconnecting them. This helps prevent future corrosion and looseness.

When to Call an Electrician

While many loose connections can be fixed DIY, there are some cases where you should call a licensed electrician:

Replacing faulty wiring or outlets is generally best left to the pros. They have the proper tools and experience to safely diagnose and correct complex electrical issues you may be facing.


Loose connections are easily overlooked but can be major electrical hazards. Luckily they can often be detected and fixed with relatively simple home maintenance. Periodically checking your electrical system and making any needed repairs reduces the risk of fires, shocks, and other dangers. Don't ignore flickering lights, call an electrician for help when needed, and your home's electrical system will remain in safer working order.