Troubleshooting Home Electrical Problems

Posted in: Electrical Tips for the Home


Although it never really pays to try to undertake electrical services repair work yourself, there is nothing wrong with performing some initial checks before you call in an electrician. Every year we hear of hundreds of fires that destroy homes because of faulty wiring or poorly maintained appliances.

Experts continually warn us of the need to have our houses checked regularly so that the wiring system does not fall into a state of disrepair and expose us to unnecessary danger.

Some experts have suggested that insurance companies may make it compulsory for houses to be inspected on a regular basis in order to qualify for full home insurance benefits. In any case, it is simply a matter of common sense to want to protect yourself and your family and spending $100 to call in an electrician to do the cheque for you seems a no-brainer.

If you want to perform a cursory check yourself here are some tips to help you.

  • Check the receptacles in your kitchen and bathroom to make sure they are not leaking around power outlets. In the kitchen for example, dishwashers are often plugged in just beneath the kitchen sink so a leak can easily dribble down the wall into the socket and cause a fire or a short out. These plugs should have a circuit breaker with a button switch in them to prevent electrical shock or electrocution. They immediately shut down in the event of a leak. You should consider installing these around the home for added safety.
  • Check all light switches and plugs for sign of discolouration especially black or brown marks which could be signs of previous sparks or heat. If you check the switchplate with your hand and feel any heat at all it is a problem that needs immediate attention from a licensed electrician. Unplug everything which is connected immediately and make that phone call!
  • Check out wall plugs and switches to make sure they are rated for outdoor use and are protected from the weather. If you are in doubt what these look like you can check on the Internet or at your local hardware store.
  • If every room in your house is not fitted with power outlet on every wall, consider having these installed as it will prevent overloading and remove the temptation to use long extension cords which can cause overheating and possible electrical fires.
  • Check anything which is being powered by an extension cord. Extension cords should only be used for temporary purposes, so if you are using them it indicates you are in need of more power points in the room.
  • If you are using extension cords to lamps or appliances remember that they need ventilation and should not be running under carpets or behind baseboards where they can overheat and cause fires.

These simple checks should be enough to get you started and give you an idea of whether you need to have electrician do a complete check.