According to www.ready.gov, over 2,500 people die from housefires in the United States every year. Many of these house fires are due to electrical issues which are both preventable and correctable. Fixing electrical issues immediately as you proceed with your home improvement project will keep your home happily humming along and keep it safe for your and your family.
An Ounce of Prevention
What’s the best way to fix an electrical issue? Keep it from happening. As you work on your home, every step is an opportunity to follow common sense precautions and make your home safer from electrical hazards.
Any outlet installed in a potentially wet area of your home should have a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. These are designed to cut off power quickly when moisture is creating an electrical hazard. Use them in bathrooms, near sinks, and outdoors.
Appliances and Light Bulbs
Make sure any used appliances you install are in good working order and that the cords are not severed or cracked. Plug appliances that use a lot of juice, such as refrigerators and dryers into grounded outlets. If appliances start making strange noises, turning on and off, sparking, or smoking, that’s a very good warning sign that they need to be unplugged and inspected.
Install light bulbs that are rated appropriately for the fixture or appliance that you are using them for. That new crystal chandelier impress many guests if it overloads its circuit.
Labeling Your Circuit Breakers
To prepare for electrical issues, do yourself the favor of labeling the circuit breakers in your house. Get a partner to work with you, one of you should flip off breakers while the other one reports back on which outlets and lights are affected. This will enable you to quickly get a circuit back up and running when it is tripped.
When The Power Goes Out
If the power goes out to your whole house, perk up, at least it’s not your fault. This is very likely an issue with your local utility. Give them a call to report the problem and get updates on when it should be fixed.
When A Circuit Is Tripped
If the corded drill you are using in the living room goes dead, but the refrigerator in the kitchen is still humming, you have probably triggered the circuit breaker. Since you have labeled your breakers, it should be no problem to get the power back, but then you need to figure out why the power went out. If you are using a power tool and when you turn it on again, it trips the circuit breaker, you need to either plug in somewhere else, or reduce the electrical load being carried by the circuit to other lights and appliances. When working in a room with a space heater, unplugging it can make a large amount of electricity available for other purposes.
Aside from overloading the circuit, faulty wiring can also play a role in tripping a breaker. Check your tools, lights, and extension cords to see if any of the insulation is cracked or melted. The smell of smoke can also indicate the location of faulty wiring. Be sure to unplug any cord before attempting a repair.
If, when you reset the breaker, it trips again immediately, this is probably due to loose wiring in the house. Unless you are a trained electrician, do not dig in to the walls and fix the wiring. Amateurs playing around with their home’s wiring can electrocute themselves and/or create long term hazardous conditions. Call a local home improvement contrator to help resolve these issues.