Residential Electrical Repair: How to Prevent Common Problems

When it comes to your electrical system, out of sight is often out of mind. As long as we can switch on our lights and devices, most of us don’t give our electricity a second thought.

However, the power buzzing through your property can also be a silent threat: fire departments respond to around 46,000 electrical fires and malfunctions each year. These home fires are tragic, not only because of the damage caused but also because they’re often easy to prevent.

Using your cords, outlets, and appliances safely can help you avoid electrical outages, fires, and even the need for residential electrical repair. If you’re hoping to preserve your home’s electrical system, check out our quick guide to preventing common problems.

Avoid Overloading Outlets

Plugging too many devices into the same circuit can cause it to overload.

When you stack multiple plugs, power strips, and extension cords in one area, you’re putting your home at risk for multiple electrical problems. You might start to notice that your circuit breaker trips more often, or your outlet might look scorched or feel warm to the touch. Burning smells are also common, as well as flickering power to your lights and devices.

These electrical hazards might leave you without power in that outlet. If you’re unlucky, an overheating outlet could even cause a home fire!

Use Tamper-Resistant Receptacles (TRRs)

Electrical codes in the U.S. have required TRRs since 2008. However, if you have an older home, the property may not have been brought up to speed. Even if you have receptacle caps or sliding covers for an outlet, TRRs are always preferred.

TRRs keep the slots on an outlet closed unless two metal prongs are inserted at once. This helps prevent children from inserting a foreign object into only one opening, which can lead to electrical shocks and burn accidents. They also make it more difficult to cause damage to an electrical outlet.

Better Manage Your Cords

As you use cords and devices throughout your home, it’s easy for your organization to become haphazard. Do periodic checks to look for common cord-related hazards.

You should never run electrical cords under carpets, rugs, or furniture. Long-term compression can damage the cord, and layering something atop it can cause overheating. Overheating, in turn, can cause fires in the worst-case scenario.

Don’t place cords in high-traffic areas where people might step on them, either. Not only can this be a tripping hazard, but stepping on a cord over and over can cause damage.

Check your cords for fraying, scorching, and other issues. Replace worn cords to prevent further hazards.

Last, always grab and pull the plug, not the cord! Pulling the cord can damage the plug or cause the spring clips in the outlet to weaken, which can cause you to lose access to or power in that outlet.

Don’t Ignore Warning Signs

If you notice any electrical faults in your home, call for help as soon as possible. Neglecting electrical repairs, especially over a long period, may allow a minor issue to turn into a major headache. Here are a few signs that should always raise a red flag:

Frequent Circuit Breaker Issues

It’s normal for the circuit breaker to trip now and then as it protects your home. However, if your circuit breaker trips every time you use an outlet in a specific area, you may be dealing with a more serious electrical issue. Older home wiring, loose connections, and faulty appliances are common culprits.

Lighting Issues

Flickering lights may seem like a minor issue, but they’re often a warning sign that something’s gone wrong with your wiring. This is especially true if the lights dim every time you turn on a nearby device or appliance.

If you’ve noticed that a light switch malfunctions, you should reach out to an expert. This mild annoyance can be a safety hazard, and replacing the damaged switch is crucial for your protection.

You should also be concerned about light bulbs that feel hot to the touch or that burn out early. This can happen when the supply voltage to your home is too great, there’s a loose connection somewhere, or the wiring has short-circuited. You may also be using the wrong bulb: switching to energy-efficient LEDs can sometimes help.

Heat, Sparks, and Shocks

It’s never a good sign to notice sparks when you remove or insert a plug. This may indicate loose wiring.

If you feel a buzz or get an electrical shock when the plug connects, or if an outlet feels hot to the touch, you may have a major hazard on your hands. These issues can damage the outlet or wiring, and they can even lead to an electrical fire.

Unfamiliar Smells

If you notice any unfamiliar smells around an outlet, breaker panel, or fuse box, take it as a red flag. Smoky or burning smells are signs that something is damaging the electrical components in your system. Pair this with crackling or sizzling noises, and you’ll want to call a pro right away!

Leave Residential Electrical Repair to the Pros

Unless you have a background as an electrician, you should never try to address any of the issues above. Electrical repair is never a DIY task: you may save a few dollars, but you’ll put your health and home at risk.

Amateur electrical work carries a high risk of electric shock, whether that happens during the repair attempt or once you’re using the new wiring. Worse, loose connections and other issues can spark fires, which can lead to major home damage.

Instead, contact trusted electrical contractors in your area for safe, professional service.

Safeguard Your Home Today

Electrical problems can be dangerous to your home and family, but they’re also easy to prevent. Basic safety measures, careful use, and preventative maintenance can help you protect yourself from harm. Be sure to follow the tips above to avoid damage!

If you’ve noticed minor warning signs and you need residential electrical repair, call the pros at M.T. Kelley Electric. We’re proud to offer expert repair services to homeowners throughout the Chicago area, and we’re ready to bring your home up to speed today! Call 708-658-6741 or contact us online to request service.

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