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Five Common Electrical Problems in Your Home

Owning your home is a great accomplishment. However, there’s a tiny downside. There’s no landlord to call if you have a problem. Guess what? You’re the landlord now and it is up to you to fix (and pay for) any problems.

But you’re not alone. To help out our fellow Red Deer homeowners, here are five common electrical problems you could encounter in your home. 

Whole home surge protection

High Electric Bill

Does your stomach sink every time you open your electric bill? Is your bill increasing? If yes, here are some tips to lower your bill:

 

  • Unplug any appliances you’re not using, for example, chargers, hairdryer, electric kettle. And when you go on vacation, unplug everything that won’t be in use while you’re gone (lamps, microwave etc.). 
 
  • Check your hot water system. Is it an electric hot water tank? An electric hot water tank may not be the most efficient way to heat your hot water in Alberta with the cost of electricity. Natural gas is a more efficient way of heating your hot water. When a home is built, it is sometimes cheaper to install an electric hot water tank than a natural gas hot water tank. One of our licensed plumbers can help you determine what type of hot water systems is best for your needs.
 
  • Repair damaged wiring and/or circuits. For the safety of you and your loved ones please use one of our licensed Red Deer electricians. Remember, electricity always wins a fight with a human.

Lighting Issues

Are your lights flickering? Light bulbs burning out quickly? Basically, does your house seem possessed?

  • First check your light bulbs.
    • Is the bulb burned out? If so, replace it..
    • Make sure the bulb is installed properly. Does it need to be tightened? Is it cross threaded?
    • Is it the right type of bulb for your fixture? Is it the correct wattage? Or are you using a 100 watt bulb in a fixture rated for 75 watts?
  • If your lights are flickering, it could mean the fixture isn’t properly hooked up to your electric system.
  • Problems with your light and/or dimmer switch may mean they aren’t wired properly or there are other problems with your wiring. Contact an electrician.
  • Power surges are another reason light bulbs burn out quickly. Look into installing a whole house surge protector.

Breakers Keep Tripping

Do you have to keep walking to your breaker box to flip a switch? Here’s some good news, if a circuit breaker trips, it’s doing its job. A breaker is a safety feature designed to trip (stop the flow of electricity) when it is overloaded. This stops the circuit from overheating and/or causing damage.

When you trip a breaker, unplug the item you were using and reset the breaker (located in the breaker box). If you were using more than one electrical appliance when it tripped, next time use just one. If you were only using one appliance, use the appliance on a lower setting after resetting the breaker. For example, use your hair dryer on the low setting. It may take you longer to dry your hair, but you will save yourself time walking to the breaker box to reset the breaker. 

Outlet Issues

Is your outlet not working? Do plugs fall out of the outlet or don’t fit? Is your house littered with power strips and extension cords?

  • If your outlet doesn’t work, see if you need to reset the breaker. If that isn’t the reason, your outlet might not be installed properly or you need a new outlet.
 
  • My GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) isn’t working. GFCI outlets are used primarily in bathrooms and kitchens and have an added safety feature. They will stop supplying power to your appliance if they sense a problem, for example overheating or moisture. Unplug the offending appliance and reset the outlet. If this doesn’t work, you probably need a new GFCI outlet.
 
  • Do you need more outlets? You know you don’t have enough when you have a power strip plugged in and it is full or you have an extension cord running across your room to give you power where you need it. Both are a problem, you can easily overload your circuit causing problems. Extension cords are not designed to be used as a long-term solution, especially if you are using more than one, plus they are major trip hazards. You will most likely trip over it in the dead of night on your way to the bathroom, causing you to fall and make enough noise to wake your entire household. Contact a licensed electrician to install more outlets.
 
  • The plug doesn’t fit or falls out of the outlet. Do not force it, check several appliances in the offending outlet to determine if it is an outlet issue or it’s a problem with that specific plug. If it is the outlet, you should replace it.

Shocks

If you get an electrical shock when you use an item, stop using it immediately. Also, stop using it if you smell burning. You may have to replace the item or there are problems with the wiring.

As your own landlord you need to decide if you can fix the issue yourself or hire an electrician. You may be able to safely fix some of the smaller problems yourself (replacing a lightbulb or outlet). But if you are not comfortable tackling the problem or for the bigger jobs (wiring, installing more outlets etc.), for your safety and the safety of your family, please contact a licensed electrician. 

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