Archive for March, 2018


Friday, March 16th, 2018


Gearing up for a day of home electrical troubleshooting? Wait…. some electrical issues require expert attention. Though some common electrical issues are simply the result of bad habits, others are deeper issues in need of professional repair and troubleshooting. Which projects are DIY-friendly and which require the help of a pro? Keep your home and family safe with the help of these tips.

Know the ‘Golden Rule’ of Electrical

However, if you live by this ‘Golden Rule‘ of electrical work, you’ll be safe: You cannot suffer a shock if no electricity is present!

Before beginning any electrical sleuthing or repair, always:

  • Turn off the breaker on the appliance/outlet in question before beginning your project. Touch the panel with one hand only, leaving the other at your side to reduce electrocution risk. Turning the breaker to the OFF position instantly removes electricity from the equation (provided you choose the correct breaker). When the power is OFF, electrical protection is ON!
  • Place a piece of tape over the breaker, warning yourself & others. This will prevent the breaker from being accidentally turned ON while you are working.
  • Check the outlet/wires/appliance with a non-contact pen style electric tester (available at Amazon, Home Depot, Loew’s, True Hardware). Available for less than $20, this is your best defense against mislabeled breakers/wires. These testers ring/flash if electricity is flowing, simply by touching to the object in question.
  • When working, recap wires. Like breakers, caps likewise lower the probability of mishap.
  • Working in moisture-prone areas. Be mindful of your work environment. Water and electricity do not mix!

These Projects Are Generally DIY-Safe

Simple Circuit Overloads

When we say simple, we mean those that result from too many appliances plugged into the same outlet or circuit. This issue is easily solved by unplugging or relocating appliances to a different outlet or circuit, spreading the power draw.

Malfunctioning Dimmer Switches

Poor workmanship or sub-materials can cause dimmer switch malfunction. Taking a closer look at switch installation often uncovers issues that can be resolved by a do-it-your-selfer.

Frequent Bulb Blowouts

How many DIYers does it take to change a light bulb? Enough to notice that a frequently blowing fixture is housing a bulb with incorrect bulb wattage. Swap out for a low-wattage LED to ensure success and savings.

Temperamental Recessed Lights

Recessed lighting requires specific bulb types designed to properly dissipate heat. If your bulbs are turning on and off, that means safety features are intervening to keep things cool. Read bulb packages carefully opting for recessed-compatible options.

Electrical Issues that Require a Pro

Dimming/flickering Lights

Lights that dim or flicker indicate a loose/faulty connection that require the expertise of an electrical pro for the fast detection and resolution necessary to prevent damage/fire.

Outlet Malfunctions

Buzzing and burnt outlets, as well as loose outlets that cannot hold a plug, indicate a very old wiring system in need of attention. Is your home short on outlets, plagued with 2-prong/ungrounded outlets or frequently tripping breakers? If so, it’s time for an update!

Repeated Breaker Trips

If redistributing/reducing circuit load does not solve this issue, you likely have a short circuit resulting from dangerously exposed/touching wires, broken wires, a loose connection or a ground fault.

Humming/Buzzing from Breakers

Humming/buzzing breakers indicate a faulty breaker that is overloaded and cannot trip. Flip it OFF manually, and get a pro out fast to prevent an electrical fire.

Outdated Wiring

Ancient knob-and-tube unsafely installed aluminum wiring is extremely dangerous. If you skipped the home inspection at purchase and your house is older than your grandparents, you may need a whole home rewiring for safety.

Insufficient Power Supply

Houses even a few decades old may require a bigger, better wiring system to power the glut of appliances and devices today’s families rely on. Sixty-amp service is no long sufficient for modern homes.

Water Related Issues

Any issues in moisture-prone areas, including problems involving plumbing should be addressed by a pro.


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