Almost everything in our homes runs on electricity, from the coffeemaker we use to wake up to the lampshade we turn off before going to bed. It’s no question that electricity has improved our lives, but with all of the upgrades come common electrical problems that we all experience during our lifetime. We aren’t talking about flickering lights -- we mean deep-rooted problems that are causing recurring issues in your home.
Below, we’ll go over the most common electrical problems at home including what you can do to solve them.
Power surges (or electrical surges) are triggered by many things such as lightning strikes, poor electrical wiring, and damaged power lines. It lasts less than a second, but frequent surges may cause damage to electrical appliances in your home, shortening their life at a much faster rate. The solution? Avoid using “cheap” electronics and unplug your laptop, TV, etc. during thunderstorms.
Power sags and dips, otherwise known as brown-outs, occur when there is a sudden, intermittent drop in voltage. The lights dim for a second and then get bright again -- as if nothing happened. Brown-outs happen when too many large appliances are being powered at once, especially if they are connected to a single outdated electrical panel.
Household items like hairdryers, irons, and old refrigerators can easily trip circuit breakers because of their high wattage. This, however, isn’t a bad thing. They are meant to protect your home, so when your circuit breaker trips, it’s a sign that it is functioning as it should. Be mindful of what caused your circuit breaker to trip and avoid using that item in high settings. You should also keep the electrical usage per circuit to a minimum.
Electrical shocks are more common in older homes with outdated electrical systems. It happens when the wiring isn’t grounded or when your home has poor insulation. Even though electric shocks are usually mild, getting shocked is still an unpleasant experience. To avoid unwanted zaps of energy, test each outlet with a small appliance. While this method is effective, it is tedious and you’ll just risk getting shocked multiple times. In this case, it’s best to consult an electrician.
Light and dimmer switches that don’t work can be attributed to poor workmanship and low-quality products. If the switches don’t seem to trigger anything at all, the most likely cause is poor connection along the circuit wiring. If you notice black residue around the outlet or if the outlet sparks when you plug something in, stop using that outlet immediately.
If electrical issues in your home continue to persist, you should contact a trusted electrician. Don’t risk taking the do-it-yourself route especially if you aren’t entirely confident in your skills. While there are things you can fix on your own - like changing lightbulbs or using extension cords - most electrical problems require the diagnosis of a professional.
**Note: it can be very dangerous to try to repair electrical issues in your home. It’s always recommended to call a professional electrician.