There’s a lot riding on your electrical system at home – most importantly, your family’s comfort and safety.
That’s why it’s important to bring in a licensed electrician when something goes wrong, but it always helps to check on certain things before calling one in.
1. Check for “overlamping”
Overlamping is when the bulb in your light fixture has a higher wattage than the fixture can support. For example, a 100-watt bulb in a lamp designed to support 50 watts. Overlamping can melt sockets and damage wires – creating an extremely undesirable situation that carries the risk of fire.
2. Check the circuit breaker
If you have a typical circuit breaker, all you’ll need to do is open the panel and flip the switch back on. If you live in an older home, you might have a fuse box instead – look for a fuse that is cloudy, discolored or partly melted. If you’re blowing fuses or circuits often, see if there’s a pattern – are you losing power in only one room of the house? Have you recently gotten a new appliance? Having this information handy will help speed up your electrician’s ability to fix your problem.
3. Don’t forget the neighborhood
If your entire house is dark, look outside to see what happened to the rest of the neighborhood. If other houses are dark, there’s probably a power outage. For that, you’ll need to call a utility company instead of an electrician.
4. Learn to recognize potential problems
Minor electrical problems around the house might not seem big enough to bring in an electrician. But they’re often indicators of a larger issue that might develop into something more expensive to fix. Some of the signs you should watch out for include:
- Lights flickering or dimming
- Sparks from a power outlet
- A low buzzing sound that comes from the power outlet when it’s turned on
- Old wiring
- A strange burning smell that comes and goes
- Discolored switches
- Excessive use of extension cords
5. Don’t overload your power outlets
You might have the space to plug in another appliance but that doesn’t mean you should. Every circuit is designed to handle a certain limit – stick to it, otherwise you’ll be calling in electricians way more often than you need to.
6. Check your appliances
It may not be the electrical system at fault. Instead, maybe it’s just your refrigerator. Or the stove. If everything else except one appliance seems to be working fine, you should be calling your local appliance repair service or the store where you purchased the item. But if the problem is with the power outlet your appliance is plugged into, then feel free to call your electrician immediately.