Solving Your Home’s Electrical Problems
Home ownership is a joy, but when things go wrong it’s tempting to call in a professional to resolve the problem. This is particularly true when things go wrong with the electrical system. Make no mistake about it: working with electricity can be a dangerous thing. Whenever a homeowner feels they may be risking personal harm by trying to diagnose a problem and perform repairs themselves, a professional should certainly be called. Additionally, there are some electrical problems that are simply beyond the scope of the typical person’s abilities and the specialized knowledge of a trained electrician is indispensable in these cases.
However, there are some common electrical problems that occur often that a homeowner can fix themselves. Such problems should always be approached with caution and it is always a good idea to acquire a couple of do-it-yourself books or the advice of an expert to act as support for any attempted repair work.
Most people must deal with a blown breaker at some point. The fix here is easy enough. Locate the main panel, figure out which breaker switch is pointing the wrong way, and flip it back so that it coordinates with the others. Hopefully all of these switches will be labeled so that if you ever need to turn off a particular circuit to perform some work you won’t have to guess which breaker to flip. If you are routinely dealing with the same breaker blowing then it’s time to review exactly how many items are connected to one circuit. You may find that plugging in a lamp or other appliance at a different circuit resolves the problem.
Occasionally homeowners will discover that an outlet is not functioning. If another member of the household experiences the problem, the person who attempts to fix it should definitely verify the malfunction before going any further. For instance, it may be the appliance that was plugged into the outlet which is not working, rather than the outlet itself. After experimenting to prove that the outlet is the actual problem, check the circuit box for a tripped breaker. If none are tripped, there may be a loose connection in the outlet. Before doing anything at the outlet, turn off the breaker to that circuit. There’s no sense risking a shock while working with the outlet. Use a circuit tester, a simple device that can be found at any home improvement store, to verify that the power is truly off. Then remove the outlet’s plate and unfasten the screws that hold the outlet in the wall. Pull it out of the box and look for loose wires or burn marks. Tighten any screws where wires appear loose. This typically solves the problem of a malfunctioning outlet. If it does not, it may be safest to call a professional.
Sometimes a light bulb will flicker mysteriously, which can be quite annoying. This is another instance where the homeowner can likely fix the problem easily by themselves. Turn off the circuit before attempting to fix the problem. Then remove the suspect bulb from the lamp, chandelier, or other lighting device. Inspect the socket where the bulb is screwed in to the light. A tab in the center may have become bent over years of use. With a screwdriver, straighten the tab so that it can connect solidly with the bulb. Replace the bulb, turn on the power, and see if the blinking problem is solved. If that doesn’t solve the problem, the socket may need to be replaced. A new socket can be found at any hardware store. Ask the professionals there for any advice they can give.
With a bit of experience and research, homeowners can perform their own basic electrical repairs. It pays to be cautious when doing so, and to call a professional for some jobs. However, successful do-it-yourself repairs are extremely rewarding and keep repair costs to a minimum.