If you're like many homeowners, your home's electrical system may be out of sight, out of mind. Unless your power goes out during a thunderstorm or a fuse blows after you've plugged in too many appliances, you may assume all is well with your wiring. However, this assumption could be a potentially dangerous one.
Read on to learn more about several red flags that could indicate electrical issues, as well as what you can do to ensure the safety and security of your home's electrical system.
What are some potential electrical issues you may notice?
Because most of your home's wiring and circuits are covered by drywall, it can be hard to discover small problems until they've become larger problems. However, there are a few red flags indicating issues with your electrical system that you may be able to notice before serious problems have resulted.
If you notice that your light switch feels warm when you touch it (whether the light is on or off), you'll want to remove it and investigate. Because this switch is ordinarily a closed circuit, it shouldn't transmit any heat—warmth could indicate that two wires are touching or that a bare wire is giving off sparks. If left alone, this could eventually lead to a short or even an electrical fire.
Fortunately, this issue is a fairly easy fix. You should be able to remove the light plate with a screwdriver and pull the switch out far enough to fully inspect it for any bare wires or burned areas. Use a flashlight and peer back within the wall to ensure that there aren't any visible issues with the wires connecting the light switch to the electrical supply. Even if there's nothing that appears to be physically wrong with the light switch, replacing a warm switch is usually a good idea.
If your lights blink on and off or flicker—even when there's no inclement weather nearby—you could have a faulty connection somewhere along the path between your electrical supply and the offending lights. Troubleshooting this issue can be trickier than simply changing a switch, although you may get lucky and discover that the connection problem is localized near the light itself.
If you're not able to identify the specific connection that is causing your lights to flicker, you'll likely need to contact an electrician to perform an audit of your home. If left unrepaired, eventually this connection fault will become a fully open connection, which could lead to fire at the flick of a light switch.
How can you help prevent electrical problems in your home?
Because the electrical system in your home is somewhat hidden, potential problems are much easier to ignore than problems with other internal systems, like plumbing or heating and cooling. However, if you've noticed anything amiss with your system (even something intermittent), you'll want to contact a local electrician through online resources like http://aaaeinc.com/.
The consequences for ignoring an electrical issue can be dire, and if you suffer a fire and your homeowner's insurance company can establish that you knew (or should have known) you had a pre-existing electrical problem, they company may deny your claim for damages.
Even if you haven't noticed any specific issues, if your home has been renovated or is over a certain age, you could benefit from an electrical inspection. You may want to purchase a multimeter to help test the amount of current flowing through your switches to ensure the connections are solid. As a bonus, identifying and fixing any electrical leaks you discover can help lower your monthly utility bills.