Electricity faithfully serves everyone, but it can also be a potential source of danger. According to the Electricity Safety Foundation International (ESFI), electrical malfunctions lead to more than 51,000 avoidable house fires every year.
While most electrical dangers are hidden within the walls of your house, you can spot the warning signs and take proactive measures that will help protect your home in the long run. Here are some common electrical faults homeowners experience and how you can prevent them.
An electrical surge occurs when a spike in charge within power lines increases the current to your home’s electrical outlets. This usually results in quick flickering on and off appliances such as TVs.
Frequent exposure to an electrical surge can damage your electronics or significantly reduce their lifespan. Surges can sometimes be unpreventable since lightning strikes, damaged power lines, or electric company slip-ups cause them. Surge protectors are the best way to protect your electrical appliances from surge-related damage. Call a professional electrician to inspect and correct the issue if your appliances still surge repeatedly.
Ground fault circuit interpreters (GFCIs) are electrical devices that help prevent electrocution. When your body starts to receive a shock, this device senses and cuts off the power before you get injured. GFCIs are usually installed in areas where electrical circuits may accidentally come into contact with water, particularly in kitchens, laundry rooms, and bathrooms.
The dangers of not having a GFCI include shock and, in some cases, death from electricity. Bathrooms and kitchens are regularly used daily, and the amount of water and electrical appliances used in these areas increases the risk of electrical shock. Check out this ground fault vs arc fault guide to learn more about protection against electrical shocks and fires.
An overload occurs when too many appliances are plugged into the same circuit. For instance, if a circuit is allocated for an electric kettle, plugging in the kettle and oven simultaneously will overload the circuit’s capacity.
An overload can also occur when a circuit is burdened with a current rating higher than that of the circuit breaker, making the breaker trip. Avoid overloading electrical devices by not plugging too many appliances in the same outlet and monitoring sockets to avoid excess capacity. Circuit overloads are a common culprit for electrical fires, so it’s vital to maintain your electrical appliances in good condition.
Power sags and dips
Sags and drips are closely related to power surges but tend to behave differently. They create brown-outs (occasional drops in power voltage) that rapidly dim the lights and regain their brightness. Both small and big appliances can cause power sags and dips, especially if they are drawing too much power from an old-fashioned electrical panel or are plugged into a faulty power outlet. The best way to avoid sags and dips is to have your outdated devices replaced, and your power checked regularly.
Electrical shocks may be rare in those living in newer homes since modern electrical codes and standards are much higher than they were a few years ago. However, an older home with old-fashioned electrical systems may pose more risks, usually caused by poor insulation or ungrounded wiring. It’s usually not a good idea to diagnose the problem yourself since you can put yourself at risk of shocks. Instead, call in a local electrician to fix the issue and eliminate the danger for you and your family.
Too few outlets
Having enough power outlets in your home is a big issue. A scarcity of electrical outlets can lead to overloading the existing outlets and quickly tripping circuits. A home with insufficient outlets can also lead to a dangerous dependence on extension cords and a higher likelihood of experiencing regular surges. A temporary solution to too few power outlets is to use a heavy-duty extension cord or UL-listed surge protector to increase cord range as you wait for a professional electrician to install new outlets.
Dead electrical outlets should always be noticed. A dead outlet is not only a nuisance, but it can also be a fire risk. When a power outlet stops functioning, it means, at some point, it burnt out or fell victim to incorrect electrical wiring. Whichever the cause, forcing a dead or damaged outlet to work could spark a fire or cause severe damage to your home.
Dead outlets can also present overloading issues since the homeowner will try to compensate by plugging in too many appliances in ones that do work. Don’t put your electrical appliances and home at risk. Call a professional electrician as soon as possible to fix your outlets so you can use your appliances safely.
Your home may experience many electrical issues that can cause extensive damage to your appliances. The easiest way to fix these electrical faults is to call in a licensed and experienced electrician. While there are some things you can do on your own, such as ensuring your lighting bulbs are the correct wattage, a trained and licensed electrician should handle most fixes concerning electricity.