How to Fix Weird Electrical Issues in Your Home Without Calling an Electrician
Have you noticed strange electrical problems in your home, like flickering lights or outlets that don't work? As frustrating as electrical issues can be, you don't always need to call an expensive electrician to fix them. With some basic tools and safety precautions, you can troubleshoot and resolve many electrical problems yourself.
Identify the Electrical Issue
The first step is to carefully observe and document the weird electrical behavior you're experiencing. Here are some common electrical issues and what to look for:
If lights occasionally flicker or dim throughout your home, the cause is likely an underpowered electrical panel, old wiring, or a loose connection. Take note of which rooms are affected and when it happens to help narrow down the cause.
Frequently Tripped Breakers
If a certain circuit keeps tripping and turning off power, this indicates an overload or short on that circuit. Check what devices and lights are on that circuit and see if there's an issue with one of them drawing too much current.
Loose wiring behind an outlet can cause buzzing, sizzling sounds. This is a potential fire hazard and should be addressed immediately. Take note of which outlets are buzzing.
Outlets Not Working
If outlets stop working entirely, the first thing to check is the circuit breaker or GFCI outlet they are connected to. Reset the breakers/GFCIs and see if power is restored. If not, it could be a faulty outlet, tripped GFCI, or open neutral.
Before doing any electrical work yourself, follow these safety precautions:
- Turn off power to the circuit you'll be working on at the breaker panel.
- Verify power is off by testing outlets with a multimeter or plug-in tester.
- Remove jewelry and wear non-conductive gloves and shoes.
- Cover exposed wires with electrical tape and avoid touching bare wires.
- Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of an emergency.
- Replace covers on all outlets and junction boxes when finished.
Inspect, Diagnose, and Repair
With the power off and your safety gear on, you can start inspecting and testing to pinpoint the cause:
Remove outlet and switch covers and visually inspect that all wires are securely connected with no loose, damaged or burnt connections. Tighten any loose wires with a screwdriver.
Use a multimeter to test continuity and make sure there are no open breaks in the wiring. Also test that the hot and neutral wires are correctly connected.
Look for any damaged, cracked or melted insulation on wires that could be causing a short. Replace damaged sections of wire.
If an outlet or switch is malfunctioning, replacing it completely can often resolve the issue. This is an easy fix.
If dealing with outdated, worn outlets, replacing them with fresh modern GFCI outlets can prevent future issues.
Call a Professional for Major Issues
For any larger electrical issues involving your main service panel, new wiring, or major appliances, it's safest to call a licensed electrician to handle the repairs.
Prevent Future Electrical Problems
To help avoid electrical issues down the road:
- Don't overload circuits with too many appliances and devices.
- Use surge protectors to prevent power spikes.
- Replace old outlets with GFCI outlets.
- Upgrade undersized electrical panels.
- Have wiring inspected when buying a new home.
With proper safety precautions and some electrical troubleshooting, you can take care of many electrical issues yourself without calling an electrician. However, always contact a licensed professional for major electrical repairs or those involving the main service panel. A little electrical know-how can save you money!