Simple strategies for troubleshooting electrical problems
For any major electrical issues it is always best to contact an electrician to handle fixing the problem, but sometimes the issue isn’t as severe as it may seem. Take a few troubleshooting steps to see if you can pinpoint the problem before calling an expert. It might be something simple you can fix yourself.
Look for the simple answer first
Before you assume the worst when you notice an electrical problem, consider the simple answer. If an outlet is not working in a room, look to see if a nearby switch controls power to it. If a light bulb is flickering, make sure it is properly installed. If the light won’t turn on, make sure the bulb is not burned out. Also, talk to neighbors and ask if they are having electrical problems. Sometimes, utility workers may cause issues while they are working on a project somewhere else in the area. If none of these are the answer to your problem, then begin looking for other potential culprits like faulty wiring or blown fuses.
Check the GFCI outlet
A ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet is common in bathrooms or garages to protect you from electrical shock. In normal outlets in the United States, the left vertical slot is slightly larger than the right. The left is “neutral,” and the right is “hot.” If an appliance working correctly, electricity flows from the “hot” to the “neutral” side.The way the GFCI works is it monitors the amount of current, and if there is an imbalance it will trip the circuit, and it can react in as little as one-thirtieth of a second.
The top button on the outlet should be pushed in for it to work. To test if it is working appropriately, push the bottom button and see if the top button pops out. Another way to test the GFCI outlet is to purchase a GFCI tester. It is good to test these outlets regularly because they lose their effectiveness after several years.
If an outlet is not working, look for those two buttons to see if it is a GFCI outlet. If it isn’t a GFCI outlet, but it still isn’t working look on the ground to see if a different outlet has the GFCI switches. Otherwise, continue looking for the problem by checking if any breakers are tripped in your home’s circuit box.
Reset a tripped breaker
You can spot a tripped breaker if it is in the middle of the on and off position. Turning a tripped breaker back on requires pushing it to the off position and then back to the on position. If it immediately trips again, do not try to reset it immediately. Instead, go to the problem area of the home and be sure to unplug all of the appliances and turn off all of the switches. Plug in all the appliances one at a time to find the culprit. It may be a faulty refrigerator, microwave or a hair dryer. If it is not an appliance, call an electrician to investigate if the problem is with the wiring.
Check all the outlets
Is the problem contained to one wall, or is it an entire room? The best way to answer this question is to check all of the outlets. This can be done by plugging in a device in each socket or by purchasing a plug tester at a local hardware store and testing them. This will help an electrician narrow down the problem area, or help you determine which breaker to reset.
Code the circuits in the breaker box
The best way to make the most out of your time spent troubleshooting problems in your home is to label all the switches in the breaker box. For this job, we advise finding a partner or a loud radio that you can hear at the breaker box. Start in one room and switch the breakers on and off until your partner tells you the lights have went off or the radio stops playing. Label each breaker with the corresponding appliance or room. It will make future troubleshooting projects easier.
Safety is paramount
Working with electricity is dangerous, especially if you lack experience. According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International, electrical fires cost $1.4 billion a year in property damage, and home-based electrical systems cause nearly 55,000 fires a year, resulting in more than 500 deaths and 1,400 injuries. .If you don’t feel safe working on a troubleshooting project, call a professional to come to your home and investigate the problem.
A & P Homes Electric offers a full suite of electrical services for residential, commercial and industrial including trouble shooting. We can help with every step of the way to take away any worries you may have while trying to fix your problem. So, if you need a repair or have a question contact us.