In my last few articles, I’ve been talking about the importance of safety, and how best to keep your home safe. But I know you don’t typically call an electrician just to make sure that your home electrical system is safe (although it’s an EXCELLENT reason to do so). Generally, you call an electrician because something’s going wrong with your electrical system. With that in mind, I wanted to share with you some of the electrical troubleshooting that my electricians and I do on a daily basis, to help you avoid some of the most common problems we see on the job.
I’ve found throughout my years in this industry that a lot of the most common problems are caused by something that’s easily avoidable with a little planning and forethought, power overloads. A power overload is exactly what it sounds like, when an outlet or wire fails because there are too many devices being used at one time. Think of it like adding more and more weight to the end of a tree branch; there’s only so much weight (load) it can handle before it breaks.
Although ultimately one overloaded circuit is more or less the same as another, overloads have a number of different causes, and can even have different symptoms depending on where in your home they occur. No matter how or where they happen, though, overloads are serious fire hazards. Overloaded wires melt, causing electrical shorts and conducting heat to potentially flammable materials like the wood in your walls. Repairing the damage from these overloads often requires the electrician making the repair to simply pull the wires out and rewire the circuit, which can be expensive. It’s in your best interest to know how to avoid overloading your electrical system in the first place but also be aware that an overload has occurred.
The most common sign of an overload I run across tends to go something like this, half of the room will be getting no power, while the other half is receiving power as normal. Even more out of the ordinary, the breakers that connect the room to the electrical panel haven’t been tripped. So, what’s causing the issue? If this happens in your living or media room, it’s surprisingly easy to diagnose: 60 to 70% of the time, the problem is the outlet behind your entertainment center melting down (in some cases, literally melting down) from being overloaded. When your entertainment center was installed, you might not have even considered that you were in danger of overloading the outlet. The combination of your TV, DVD player, video game systems, stereo system, huge speakers, and cable or satellite receivers can quickly overwhelm any outlet, and they add up quickly. This is why a top Richardson electrician will always suggest that your entertainment center be set up on a dedicated circuit with a separate power source from the rest of the room; it’s the best way to ensure you’re not overloading your circuit.
Other overloads occur because of the changing weather. I’ve seen plenty of people who’ve overloaded a wall outlet just by plugging a window air conditioning unit into it. These window AC units draw a ton of power; in fact, they can typically max out the circuit just by themselves, meaning anything else you have plugged into that circuit is overloading it! Similarly, most space heaters require 1800 watts to operate. This is exactly how much power a typical 15A electrical circuit breaker should allow. Even plugging in something as simple as a light bulb alongside it overloads the circuit. Window air conditioners and space heaters should always be placed on dedicated circuits to avoid this problem.
Another all-too-common overload occurs quite often in older homes. A family getting ready for the day suddenly discovers that they no longer have any power in any of the bathrooms in the house! This is the result of an overload, too, even worse, it’s a hard overload to detect unless you know a bit about how homes used to be wired. You see, years ago when homes were being wired up, they tended to wire all the receptacles in all the bathrooms on the same circuit. This means that they’re all typically running on the same 15A electrical circuit. This leads to one of the most notorious causes of overloads. Remember how I mentioned that a space heater typically needs 1800 watts to run? Well, most hair dryers typically require 1850 watts, meaning that if your wife or daughter are drying their hair at the same time as someone else is using power in the other bathroom, the circuit is overloaded. And if your wife and daughter are BOTH using their hair dryers at the same time, it won’t take long for the whole circuit to fail or shut off. Thankfully, electricians wiring newer homes always put multiple bathrooms on separate circuits to help minimize this problem.
Again, I want to stress that events like these are completely avoidable, as long as you take the time to think about how much you’re plugging into one circuit. With a little thought, and the helping hand of a caring electrician if you’re unsure, you can save yourself a lot of pain in the long run.
For more information and other tips Electric Man to the rescue. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
I was over at a customer’s home troubleshooting electrical repair on a fire that started in the ceiling above their living room. When the customer asked me if I could see why the fire started, I told them “Yes!” It was quite obvious a previous home wiring installation had gone bad. I asked her if she remembered who performed the installation, and she said “It was a long time ago, I can’t remember.” If she would’ve had one of my employees who are top Dallas Electricians, this would’ve never happened. – Nick Schaeffer
Aging homes have increased electrical danger. In the U.S. almost 69 million housing units are more than 20 years old. In DFW, almost 1 million housing units are more than 20 years old. These homes frequently have overloaded outlets and circuits. Some of these homes even have faulty electrical systems. Understanding how things are done and the proper way to do them is key to longevity and happiness inside of your home.
Here are some top Dallas Electrician tips to help with home wiring installation and troubleshooting electrical repair:
When painting a room, don’t paint the outlet. This could cause the receptacle to overheat. If the outlet is already painted, the paint flakes could get pushed inside when you plug something in causing a bad connection.
When installing your own dimmer for lighting, make sure you size the dimmer wattage with the amount of light bulb wattage so you don’t overheat or melt your dimmer.
Extension cords are not suitable for permanently installed appliances such as garage door openers, dishwashers, freezers, microwaves.
It is never safe to tap on to an existing wire in the attic to add a new electrical location without proper junction boxes or other approved enclosures.
Overloading electrical circuits occurs when too many appliances are plugged into a single electrical circuit or outlet resulting in a tripped circuit breaker and overheating.
There is no substitute for a licensed, insured professional electrician. Having a handy man or a friend of the family perform the work could not only endanger your family in your home, but also cost you more money in the long run. When considering a top Dallas electrician for your home wiring installation or Troubleshooting Electrical Repair needs you can trust ElectricMan to get the job done right. We’re available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so don’t ever hesitate to give us a call! Visit our website to learn more or connect with our online community on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google Plus.
There are a lot of reasons to love your older home. Whether it’s a part of history or simply more cost effective than buying a brand new home, older homes can be just as nice as a newly built home with the right care. Unfortunately, that level of care is often overlooked when it comes to old home wiring. As technology has progressed in the home building industry, especially when it comes to home electrical, we have learned many safer ways to provide power to all of your appliances and gadgets. We have also learned that many of the techniques that were used on older homes can lead to a dangerous situation for you and your family.
Here are a few things that you can look out for to help make sure your home’s wiring is up to date and safe:
•Do your electrical outlets have only two prong capabilities?
•Do plugs frequently fall out when you don’t want them to?
•Do you have Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) protection for your outlets?
•Is your garage door opener plugged in to an extension cord?
•Do you frequently “trip” the breaker when using several appliances at once in your kitchen?
•Is your electrical breaker panel located in a closet?
Each of these issues can be a sign that your home has out of date wiring, and if you notice any of them in your home, you should have it checked by a licensed Dallas electrician to ensure that your home is as safe as possible.
For more information on older home electrical issues, or to find out how to contact ElectricMan Inc. to discuss your own home’s electrical system, please visit us at www.ElectricManInc.com
If you’ve ever watched the show “Holmes on Homes” on HGTV, you’ve likely seen the problems associated with old or faulty wiring. Mike Holmes tends to get very agitated by safety issues, and for good reason. Each year, over 40,000 homes suffer fire damage due to home electrical problems. These electrical fires account for hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries. And what’s the main culprit? Old wiring!
If you live in a classic home built before 1940, chances are you have old wiring in the house. You may have knob-and-tube or Romex wiring, both of which can become brittle over time. The insulation dries out and starts to crumble, causing the inner wire to become exposed. The cloth insulation around the wire deteriorates with age and eventually becomes unsafe.
But perhaps one of the biggest threats of Romex and knob-and-tube wiring is that these types of wires aren’t grounded. That means if one of your appliances shorts out, you could become the path to the ground for the electricity.
Even if your home is only 20 or 30 years old, you could still experience electrical problems at home due to a lack of capacity. Most homes built more than 10 years ago are not designed to handle the amount of electronics we use today. Think about it: if your house was built in 1980, it was built before home PCs and laptops and HDTVs and surround sound and all of the other toys and gadgets we use today. These appliances can draw a lot of power, and your current electrical wiring may not be up to the task.
If you own one of the one million houses in the DFW area that’s more than 20 years old, it’s a good idea to have a licensed electrician come out and take a look at the wiring. He or she can make sure that your house will be safe and productive for many years.
About ElectricMan Inc.
ElectricMan Inc. is one of Plano’s most trusted electricians. Nick Schaeffer, Mr. ElectricMan himself, has quite the resume for a master electrician. He started the company by himself in 2004 and hasn’t looked back since! For more information about Electricman’s list of electrical repair services, please visit www.ElectricManInc.com