Electrical Safety Checklist You Should Do Today
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Posted July 3, 2019
When was the last time you had your home’s electrical system inspected? Maybe you don’t see the need for inspection because your electrical system is working consistently and reliably. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean your electrical wiring, outlets, lighting, and other fixtures are okay. You may assume everything is fine when it’s a matter of time before an electrical fire hits your home. Residential electrical fires cause thousands of casualties and millions of property damages each year. Most of these fire incidents are a result of faults in the electrical system. Your technician could easily detect and rectify these faults before they transpire into losses. A thorough, routine home electrical inspection will keep you and your home safe from avoidable electrical damages. With this in mind, here is a detailed electrical safety maintenance checklist you should follow to achieve a safe, reliable, and efficient electrical system.
Check the Lights
The first thing is to ensure you use the correct wattage light for your light fixtures. The flickering light means many appliances are on one circuit, your electrical panel has problems, or you have loose connections.
Also, inspect the brightness of the lights. If some bulbs are too bright while others are dim, it could mean you are using different types of lights with different wattage, or there’s a bad main neutral connection.
If your light bulbs burn out too often, it could mean many problems such as:
- You have bad wiring on the circuit or the main
- Your insulation is close to the light fixture
- You’re using a low-quality bulb
- You have a tripped circuit breaker or a blown fuse
- Your wattage is too high
In some cases, you may find that your recessed light goes out and comes back on. The recessed light often has safety devices to cut out power to the fixture when they become too hot. If they are excessively hot, you probably have a high wattage issue or insulation problems.
However, to be sure, always have an experienced electrician inspect the above issues to determine the cause of the electrical problems, and fix them immediately.
Inspect Your Breakers
Circuit breakers are automated electric switches that cut current flow when there’s a risk of electrical hazards. When there is an overload in a certain circuit, the breakers trip and prevent damage to the wiring and appliances.
Tripping occurs once in a while, and it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm. However, if the circuit breakers trip often, it signifies the following:
An overload occurs when appliances that draw a lot of power get connected to one circuit, and it can lead to overheating. An overload puts the connected appliances at risk of damage.
In some cases, it can also cause a fire, especially if you have faulty breakers. You can solve it by redistributing your electrical devices to reduce the electrical load on the circuit.
Short circuits occur when the live wire comes into contact with the neutral wire. The contact causes a large amount of current to flow to travel through the circuit. This creates more heat than the circuit can handle.
It’s commonly a result of loose connection or faulty wiring. Some signs of a short circuit include discoloration or a burning smell around the affected outlets.
Ground Fault Surges
Ground fault surges occur when a hot wire comes into contact with ground wire to produce results similar to short circuit. When this happens, the circuit breakers trip to prevent an electrical hazard.
If circuit tripping occurs frequently, contact your electrician since circuit problems often cause a fire when left unresolved.
Check Your Outlets
Outlets provide a convenient way to plug appliances into the supply power. They have a few moving parts that are prone to wearing down over time. Eventually, the wear and tear will cause resistance and heat to build up which ultimately creates a circuit break or trip.
Here are some signs to watch out for.
- Your outlet is warm. This could mean one of the dangerous situations is on its way. It can be circuit overload, melting wiring, loose wirings, etc.
- Your wall outlet is discolored or broken. This is often a sign that the connections inside the outlet are overheating, and it puts your house at risk of an electric fire. Also, an exposed inner connection is a health hazard, especially to children.
- Your plugs are falling out. This may indicate an exposed loose terminal or outlet is overheating. Contact the experts to check the issue.
- Your outlet produces sparks or a burning smell. Sparks that occur when you plug in an appliance are often a sign of faulty wiring.
For the wet area outlets (bathrooms, kitchens, etc.), you must install Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs). The GFCIs must get tested often. Light switches in wet areas must be installed several inches from the water.
Examine Your Electrical Service Panel
You will find the electrical service panel in the exterior of your home, basement or garage. It houses the fuses or circuit breakers. Below are the things to look into when inspecting your electrical service panel.
Age of the Electrical Service Panel
Certain old models are outdated and pose an electrical hazard that can easily lead to a fire. If your electrical service panel has the outdated round fuses, contact a licensed electrician to upgrade them. Don’t forget to replace your electrical panel if it is worn or rusty.
Moisture Around the Panel
If you notice moisture inside or around the electrical panel, call your electrician immediately. Water can cause severe damage to your electrical service panel. Presence of rust or corrosion on the panel also indicates a moisture problem that requires addressing.
Check if the clearance is inadequate. In the event of an accident, obstructed access to panel board can prevent personnel from shutting down the power source. The depth, width, and height of the working space should be enough as stipulated in the OSHA guidelines.
It is an excellent practice to have your service panel checked even if there is no problem. Your technician can quickly identify and fix issues such as missing breaker knock-outs and clamps, improper wiring, and overloaded electric panel.
Check Your Wiring
If you live in an older home, there is a big chance they have the aluminum wiring or knob-and-tube wiring. These have outdated safety and performance characteristics, and you should replace them for electrical safety in your home.
When you or your electrician are inspecting the wires, here are some of the mistakes to look for:
- Reversed connections. Backward connections mean the polarity is wrong. The polarization of outlets and inlets ensures electricity flows in one direction only. Polarization makes your appliances safer to use.
- Improper grounding. Grounding helps electricity flow safely to the earth through the grounding system whenever there is a short or a fault. In case you have an ungrounded circuit, replace the outlets with GFCI outlets to help protect you against shock.
- Overloaded terminals. This usually results in a loose connection since it is difficult to tighten many wires under one terminal.
- Inadequate or damaged Wire Insulation. Insulation prevents conductors from coming into contact with each other or coming into contact with people. Poor insulation can lead to electric shock or short-circuiting.
Ground Your Older Appliances
If you’ve already upgraded to the newer, grounded three-pronged outlets, do the same to your appliances. All appliances should have three-pronged plugs to connect to grounded outlets properly.
Power tools, vacuums, and many other machines are safer with the third prong, shaped to fit round grounding slot on an outlet receptacle.
Prepare for Electrical Fires
Electric fires are caused by heat from light bulbs, cords, outlets, meter boxes, and transformers. These fires often start from where an ignitable material comes into contact with fire.
Whenever there is fire, a fire extinguisher is a useful tool that can help you put it off before it spreads to the rest of the home. Having a fire extinguisher isn’t enough; learn how to use it. You will need it whenever there is a small manageable fire.
Here are some tips on handling fire:
Keep Off Water
Water can’t be used to put off an electrical fire. It conducts electricity, and you could easily get shocked or electrocuted. Rather than extinguish it, water can spread the fire by conducting electricity throughout the room.
Use Multi-purpose or Type C Fire Extinguishers
Make sure you equip your house with the right fire extinguishers. Multipurpose extinguishers put out fires by discharging a dry chemical, usually one known as sodium bicarbonate.
Type C or multipurpose extinguishers are the best options for putting out various types of fire, including electrical ones.
Shut Off the Electrical Panel
Do it when the fire is still small, to cut off the power supply. However, don’t approach touch a wet panel with bare hands or use wet hands on the panel. You could get electrocuted.
Know When to Give Up
Fire often spread very quickly. When you feel overpowered, it’s time to run and save your family. Generally, to avoid getting overwhelmed, don’t try to put out any fire that is spreading. Contact 911 immediately for assistance.
Have a Home Fire Evacuation Plan
However much you take all the precautions to prevent electrical fire, some are inevitable. Fire does spread rapidly. In some cases, you won’t have time to think or prepare.
What would you do if you only have two minutes to escape? With a home evacuation plan, you can safely escape a fire and prevent casualties in your home.
Monitor Electrical Bills
Your power bills should reflect on how you consume electricity. If you only use power to watch television for a few minutes, then you don’t expect a hefty electrical bill at the end of the month. An unreasonable large bill that doesn’t reflect your electrical consumption is often as a result of a faulty system.
But before you assume there is a problem with your electrical system, confirm the problem isn’t coming from wrong or excessive usage of appliances.
The following faults can surge your power bills.
- Faulty wiring: If the bills jump up significantly without an increase in power usage, your home may have faulty wiring. Wiring problems can cause electric leakage. Damaged wiring can cause connected appliances to heat up and consume more power.
- Faulty meter: If the meter still goes up even if the central system is turned off, then it is defective. Get it checked before it costs you more in energy bills.
- Faulty appliances: Air conditioners, washing machines, etc., will consume more electricity when they are damaged.
Conduct Routine Professional Check-Ups
Do you only call your electrician when you have an electrical issue? It shouldn’t be the case. Your home should be checked regularly by a certified electrician.
The technician identifies electrical faults and corrects them before they transpire into more significant problems like an electrical shock, or fire outbreak. Here is why you should do a regular inspection.
Reduced Energy Costs
Your appliances will use less energy when your electrical system is working correctly, which in turn saves you money.
Reduced Appliance Repair Costs
Once the power faults are sorted, your appliances are safe from electrical surges and overloads which can cause damage. You save money on buying new appliances due to power mishaps.
Protection from Electrical Fires
Faulty and outdated electrical wirings, systems and fixtures are the primary cause of home fires. Your technician identifies such problems before they cause a fire.
Also, they locate bare wires that would cause electrical hazards or increase the risk of electrical injuries in your home.
Optimal Electrical Efficiency
A major electrical problem can cause the whole of your home to go without power for many days or weeks. That means your air conditioner, refrigerator and computers won’t function.
What’s more, You will be less productive if you work from home. An electrician identifies most of the electrical problems before they occur. They help maintain the efficiency of the system and keep your household affairs running smoothly.
Looking for an Electrical Technician?
Having your electrical system inspected by non-qualified personnel is extremely dangerous. The quacks can mess up your electrical system and put your home and its occupants at risk of power-related incidences. Get a technician who can do the job safely and efficiently.
At Hiller Plumbing, Heating, Cooling, & Electrical, we have you covered. Request an appointment today and feel safe by tomorrow.