Common Electrical Problems Around The Home
When it comes to household electrics, your safety is paramount. Flickering lights, high bills and damaged appliances can all be a sign of electrical problems on your home circuit. Identify problems from the list below, as well as the most appropriate solution.
FREQUENT ELECTRICAL SURGES
Electrical surges can be caused by anything from lightning strikes, damage to power lines, faulty appliances and bad electrical wiring in the house. While an actual surge only lasts a microsecond, frequent surges can damage the electrical components connected to your home, degrading their life expectancy significantly
SAGS AND DIPS IN POWER
Like electrical surges, sags and dips in electrical supply can often be attributed to devices connected to your power grid that are faulty or made with substandard materials, and draw a lot of power when they are turned on.
LIGHT SWITCHES NOT WORKING PROPERLY
Dimmer switches that don’t adjust light properly can often be attributed to shoddy workmanship or sub-standard products.
CIRCUIT BREAKER TRIPPING FREQUENTLY
High wattage items like microwaves and hairdryers can trip circuit breakers, particularly when other power consuming items are used on the same source. A circuit breaker is designed to protect you and your home, so when it does trip, that’s a sign it’s doing its job.
One of the biggest causes of frequent circuit breaker tripping is the overloading of power boards. Most homes and apartments, even newer ones, don’t have enough power points to cater to, for example, a complete home entertainment unit setup. If circuit breakers in your home are tripping frequently, it could be down to circuit overload.
An electronic circuit is composed of individual electronic components, such as resistors, transistors, capacitors, inductors and diodes, connected by conductive wires or traces through which electric current can flow. To be referred to as electronic, rather than electrical, generally at least one active component must be present. The combination of components and wires allows various simple and complex operations to be performed: signals can be amplified, computations can be performed, and data can be moved from one place to another.
Circuits can be constructed of discrete components connected by individual pieces of wire, but today it is much more common to create interconnections by photolithographic techniques on a laminated substrate (a printed circuit board or PCB) and solder the components to these interconnections to create a finished circuit. In an integrated circuit or IC, the components and interconnections are formed on the same substrate, typically a semiconductor such as doped silicon or (less commonly) gallium arsenide
An electronic circuit can usually be categorized as an analog circuit, a digital circuit, or a mixed-signal circuit (a combination of analog circuits and digital circuits). The most widely used semiconductor device in electronic circuits is the MOSFET (metal-oxide-semiconductor field-effect transistor)
Analog electronic circuits are those in which current or voltage may vary continuously with time to correspond to the information being represented. Analog circuitry is constructed from two fundamental building blocks: series and parallel circuits.
The basic components of analog circuits are wires, resistors, capacitors, inductors, diodes, and transistors. (In 2012 it was demonstrated that memristors can be added to the list of available components.) Analog circuits are very commonly represented in schematic diagrams, in which wires are shown as lines, and each component has a unique symbol. Analog circuit analysis employs Kirchhoff’s circuit laws: all the currents at a node (a place where wires meet), and the voltage around a closed loop of wires is 0. Wires are usually treated as ideal zero-voltage interconnections; any resistance or reactance is captured by explicitly adding a parasitic element, such as a discrete resistor or inductor. Active components such as transistors are often treated as controlled current or voltage sources: for example, a field-effect transistor can be modeled as a current source from the source to the drain, with the current controlled by the gate-source voltage
Signs You May Have a Problem with Your Electrical Wiring
Electrical malfunctions cause more than 50,000 house fires each year, according to Electrical Safety Foundation International. The majority can be prevented
To protect your own home, start by checking your fuse box or breaker panel for the date of your last inspection. Most municipalities require an inspection only when a system is modified during a renovation or an addition. However, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends having a pro look things over every 10 years. Beyond that, be aware of these potential sources and causes of electrical fires.
Too many extension cords. Aesthetics aside, there’s a reason electric wires are buried within walls. “An undisturbed wiring system will more or less work forever,” says William Burke, division manager of electrical engineering for the National Fire Protection Association. “But when it’s disturbed or altered, there’s potential for trouble.” Running an extension cord creates additional points where cords can kink, short out or get pinched, leading to tripped breakers, damaged outlets or even a fire. Use extension cords sparingly and for short periods of time — during the holidays, for example. If you consistently need more outlets, have an electrician install them.
Dimming or flickering lights. Because light fixtures typically draw only a small amount of power, dimming or flickering is rarely caused by a problem with the fixture itself. More likely the issue is with energy hogs like major appliances or space heaters that are wired to the same circuit. “Appliances that heat or cool tend to draw a lot of power,” says Burke. So dimming could be caused by a washing machine drawing current to heat water. Consult an electrician about moving lights to different circuits or installing dedicated lines for major appliances
Funny odors. A new appliance may produce an off-odor the first few times it’s powered up. But if you detect an odd smell coming from an outlet, turn off and unplug anything connected to it. Don’t use it again until you’ve had a qualified electrician check it out. If your fuse box or breaker panel has a weird odor, call an electrician right away.
Electrical installation regulations: don’t get left with unregistered electrical work
If you use an unregistered electrician, builder or handyman to carry out what’s known as ‘notifiable’ electrical work, you could run into problems. Find out more about what this means, and how to make sure you don’t get caught out.
When you carry out changes to the electrical installation (wiring, fuse box and electrical circuits) in your home, this work needs to comply with building regulations, known as Part P. The building regulations are there to ensure that properties are built or altered to a safe standard
We’d recommend always using a registered electrician for electrical work. But it’s not against regulations for a handyman or builder to carry out minor electrical works, such as replacing a light-fitting – provided the wiring stays the same.
However, you can run into trouble if you allow an unregistered electrician, a builder, a handyman, or a friend who ‘knows what they’re doing’ to carry out Part P notifiable work. We explain more about what constitutes notifiable work below. If the work takes place without being signed-off either by building control or a registered electrician, you will have an uncertified installation, which can create problems when it comes to selling the property.
The government first introduced electrical safety regulations into Part-P building regulation in 2005, and the regulations were updated in April 2013. Electrical installation work carried out pre-2005 will not be covered by the regulations, but it may well not be compliant with current standards
Possible Causes of a Blown Fuse and What to Do
Most people probably have experienced a blown fuse at one time or another. Someone always knows what to do when this happens. If you’re a homeowner, that person probably is you. Blown fuses are a common occurrence.
But how often do you actually think about what might have caused the fuse to blow, much less called an electrician to make sure everything’s OK? If you’re like most people, the answer to that is probably “Never.”
First, A Word About Fuses
Most people nowadays have had the old-fashioned fuse panels (also known as fuse boxes) in their homes replaced by modern electrical panels with circuit breakers–if the fuse boxes were even still there when they purchased their houses.
Possible Causes of a “Blown Fuse”
Much of the time, it’s technically inaccurate to refer to a “blown fuse,” so in this article, we’ll offer you some new concepts and vocabulary to describe your various electrical concerns.
An Overloaded Circuit
You should be able to spot the culprit in this case by looking for an outlet or maybe an individual appliance that’s being used to heavily. Picture a power strip with a plugin every outlet it has, especially if what’s plugged in are high-energy-users.