We receive several calls every week involving troubleshooting scenarios. Many of these issues do require that a professional step in to take a look at the problem, but there is also a significant percentage that could just as easily be solved by the homeowner if they knew what to do, thus saving them the cost of a service call.
In terms of saving money, one of the most valuable skills a homeowner can develop is knowing which issues they can resolve themselves, and which issues require the assistance of a pro.
Read on to discover the most common electrical problems that can be easily fixed without making an expensive service call.
This is one of the most frequent sources of service calls that could have been avoided!
This is likely to happen in your kitchen or bathroom for what seems like no reason at all. The circuit breaker isn’t tripped
(check that first), the outlet worked just yesterday, you test the appliance in another location (also do this) and it’s working fine.
A likely culprit: The GFI has tripped. It may not seem obvious at first, especially if several outlets are connected to one GFI (often the case in kitchens). Sometimes the outlet containing the GFI is hidden behind some appliance in your kitchen or utility room, so it goes unnoticed.
How to fix it: Press the red RESET button on the GFI outlet. Turn on the appliance. If it works, you’re good to go. Take care to make sure that the area is dry; one of the main reasons a GFI trips (and the reason they are present in kitchens and bathrooms) is that it has been exposed to water.
If your GFI is tripping regularly, it’s a good idea to call an electrician. Conversely, if resetting the GFI does not solve the problem or the GFI does not seem to be working, call an electrician.
A likely culprit: Mismatched dimmer switch or faulty light bulb.
How to fix it: It is possible that flickering light bulbs are the result of faulty wiring, in which case you will need an electrician to come take a look. However, before you call out an expensive technician, make sure that it isn’t one of these two simple problems!
The mismatched dimmer switch will only be an issue if the lights that are flickering are compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). In spite of all of their positive attributes, CFLs do not typically work with dimmer switches unless they are very specialized bulbs that are not as easy to fine. If you have CFLs screwed into a fixture that functions on a dimmer switch, they may blink and flicker. The solution is as simple as replacing the bulbs, either by incandescent bulbs or by CFLs that are rated for dimmer switches.
The alternative solution is that the problem lies with a single faulty light bulb. The test for this is fairly easy: you need a lamp that is rated for the wattage of the light bulb you need to test, and an outlet that you know has no problems (so, if you’re unsure whether the problem is the light bulb or the wiring, use an outlet on an opposite end of the house where you have experienced no issues).
Screw the suspected light bulb into the test lamp, plug it in to the fault-free outlet, and wait. If the flickering is very intermittent you may need to leave it in for several hours. Keep an eye on the bulb and see if it flickers, blinks, flashes, or dims. If not, you will know that the problem lies with the fixture or the wiring and not the bulb. If, however, the bulb continues to flicker, try screwing a new light bulb into your fixture and see if the problem has been fixed!
A likely culprit: There is really only one culprit for this issue, and it is that the contacts inside the receptacle have become worn with use and can no longer grip the plug firmly.
How to fix it: This is as simple as replacing the receptacle, but it’s something that shouldn’t be ignored. Don’t just spread the prongs on your plugs out a little so that they fit more firmly! This is a temporary fix at best that is dangerous because you can also damage the plug. Loose connections increase the risk of arcing, and arcing is a serious fire hazard. You can replace your receptacles yourself to save the cost of a service call, but if you are not comfortable doing this yourself then DO NOT attempt it! It isn’t worth hurting yourself to save a few dollars.
It ultimately comes down to this: if you cannot figure out what is going on, you’re unsure about whether or not your electrical system is safe, or you feel nervous fixing something yourself, call an electrician. At the very least they can talk you through the troubleshooting process and advise you as to whether your situation is too dangerous to fix yourself.
3D has provided quality work and are very responsive to our needs, they are honest and can be trusted to provide fair estimates and complete the work on time and free of defects. Their staff cares and is professional. —