11 Common Electrical Problems Around the House

11 Common Electrical Problems Around the House

Electrical
Home Security
By Dikran Seferian December 16, 2021

A home’s electrical system is both a matter of convenience as well as a necessity — more so the latter. When homeowners come across electrical problems, they are faced with a labyrinth of wires, dangerous currents, and the risk of a blackout. With the complex network of wires dispersed throughout the property, diagnosing issues can be somewhat tricky. You may have one room that lights up just fine while another one has flickering bulbs and malfunctioning switches. In any case, you’re most likely not alone; almost every household tends to experience electrical issues more often than not, and the solution is usually one phone call away (that is why we have electricians).

1. Recurring Electrical Surges

Anything from lightning strikes to faulty appliances, damaged power lines, and improper wiring can lead to electrical surges in your house. Although a single surge only lasts less than a second, recurring surges can cause damage to electrical components. This can considerably lower their life expectancy.

If you’re experiencing power surges on a frequent basis, it most likely has to do with either an electrical device connected to the main grid or the wiring itself. Consider disconnecting cheaply manufactured devices or powerboards from the power outlet. If this doesn’t prevent the electrical surges, you may need to consult an electrician.

2. Dips and Sags in Power

Similar to electrical surges, dips and sags in the power supply can often be traced back to faulty or low-quality devices connected to the home grid. Such devices tend to draw a great deal of power when they are activated. Should you experience this issue, try disconnecting any substandard devices from the grid. Consider reaching out to a professional if the problem persists.

3. Electric Bill Always High

Common Reasons Why Your Electric Bill is High

Common Reasons Why Your Electric Bill is High

An unusually or frequently high electric bill can be due to one of several reasons. During the hotter months of the summer, it is common for the bill to be high since you're most likely using the air conditioner more often. Other energy-intensive appliances may also be the culprit. If that’s not the case, you’re either getting overcharged by your provider or dealing with damaged circuitry. The latter issue can be serious as it may pose a fire hazard.

Consider having an electrician inspect your electrical components and fix them if necessary. You may also want to identify any appliances that are consuming too much energy and monitor your usage of them. Unplugging appliances when not in use may also help. If it turns out that your provider is overcharging you, consider switching to a new one.

4. Bulbs Burning Out Frequently

There are several reasons why your light bulbs are dying too often. First, you may want to make sure whether the wattage of the bulb is too high for the socket. A 60W socket, for instance, is not fit for a 100W bulb. If you’re using compatible light bulbs and they’re still burning out, however, the culprit is most likely a loose connection in the socket. Other possible reasons include faulty wiring or the insulation being too close to the light.

Identifying and tackling the issue is rather tricky for untrained homeowners. If you’re going through light bulbs like there’s no tomorrow, you may want to consult a professional electrician.

5. Warm Switches and Outlets 

Warm Switches and Outlets Can Pose a Serious Threat

Warm Switches and Outlets Can Pose a Serious Threat

Switches or outlets that are noticeably warm to the touch may very well indicate a serious electrical issue. This is mainly due to an overloaded circuit or damaged wiring. An outlet that is struggling to power appliances tends to heat up. If ignored, the problem could pose a serious fire hazard. Another indication of this issue is an odd smell coming from the component.

Your first course of action should be to turn off the breaker that leads to the affected outlet or switch. Then, call an electrician and avoid using the component until the issue is resolved.

6. Switches Not Working Right

A light switch or dimmer that doesn’t work properly is most likely due to low-quality parts or faulty installation. First, check if the light bulb works by trying it elsewhere. You may also want to test a power outlet near the switch to determine whether electricity is reaching that outlet. If the switches don’t seem to activate anything at all, they may have been superseded — this is common if you have moved into a new place. In any case, malfunctioning switches warrant a professional electrician.

7. Circuit Breaker Occasionally Trips 

Appliances with high wattage are known to trip circuit breakers, especially when other energy-consuming items are also plugged into the same source. Circuit breakers are meant to protect your home from damage caused by short circuits and overloads. If the breaker trips, that means it is serving its purpose.

Find out what you were operating when the circuit breaker tripped. You may want to limit the usage on a single electrical circuit when high wattage appliances are being used. Upgrading your electrical system or adding another circuit may also solve the issue. Either way, you’ll require the services of a professional.

8. Overloaded Circuit

How to Prevent Overloading Your Circuit

How to Prevent Overloading Your Circuit

A common culprit of constant circuit breaker tripping is an overloaded power board. Many homes don’t have the electrical capacity to accommodate power-intensive units such as an entertainment center. A simple way to prevent a circuit overload is by unplugging appliances that aren’t in use. Phone chargers, for instance, still draw power even when the mobile device isn’t connected. Another effective solution is by not overburdening a single circuit. Instead, consider spreading your electrical usage throughout the grid. 

9. Lights Too Dim or Too Bright

If the lights in your home are too dim or too bright, you may be dealing with poor connection in the socket. This issue may also cause the lights to flicker. If not fixed promptly, it may lead to sparking or even a fire.

First, check that the bulbs have the same wattage as the sockets. A mismatch can cause the brightness level to fluctuate. You may also want to make sure that the bulbs are properly screwed in. If that doesn’t solve the issue, try connecting a new bulb — defective light bulbs are quite common, especially among low-quality brands. Another troubleshooting trick is to try the lightbulb in several rooms. Should you notice the issue in all of them, the culprit is the bulb; otherwise, it’s the socket. If all else fails, it’s time to contact an electrician.

10. Electrical Shocks

Although electrical shocks tend to be mild in most cases, they are nevertheless unpleasant. Mild shocks normally happen when you plug in or turn an appliance on or off. The issue is either a faulty appliance or improper wiring. You could diagnose the problem by plugging in another device. However, this is not recommended because you’ll basically be risking another shock. Your best bet in this scenario is to hire the services of an electrician. 

11. Plug Keeps Falling Out

What to Do If a Plug Doesn't Stay In

What to Do If a Plug Doesn't Stay In

A common issue among older homes is when an outlet doesn’t seem to hold in a plug. Outlets contain contacts that are supposed to hold the plug when you insert it. Plugs falling out of the outlet indicate defective contacts. This can pose a fire hazard as the outlet may arc and ignite a spark.

Diagnosing the issue is fairly straightforward. Simply plug in an appliance. Should the plug fall out or be loose, try another outlet. If the other outlet holds it in firmly, then the contacts of the previous outlet aren’t any good. Consider replacing the outlet with a new one. If you choose to carry out the replacement yourself, make sure you turn off the power to the outlet before getting started with the process.

Written by
Dikran Seferian

Written by Dikran Seferian