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5 Electrical Danger Warning Signs

by Hickerson Brothers on August 12, 2016

Electrical Warning SignsElectrical wiring presents two major dangers: shocks and fires.  The quality of the installation (while very important) won’t matter if you ignore the warnings your home gives you.  Your home needs regular maintenance and a careful eye to watch for growing dangers.  The signs of wear or damage are usually pretty clear and can have shocking results if ignored.

1. Warm Faceplates and Outlets

If any of the outlets or switches in your home are warm to the touch, the circuit is being overloaded.  Excessive loads from light bulbs with too high of a wattage, wires that are too small to handle the electrical current, or simply faulty connections within the circuit are all capable of heating up the faceplate.  While this is common in some devices (dimmer switches are usually mildly warm), any faceplate is too hot to touch directly is a warning sign.

Cut power to the circuit immediately.  Check to see what kind of load you’re placing on the circuit.  Inspect wiring for loose, frayed, or broken connections.  Fix any problems you find or simply remove some of the load from the circuit.

2. Loose Switches and Outlets

Switches and outlets can lose their security over time.  As switches and outlets are used, the mechanical devices inside will start to wear out.  This leads to switches that don’t hold their position well and outlets with sliding plugs.  These should be replaced immediately.  Once the switch or outlet becomes too loose to properly hold position, it will begin arcing on and off internally, building up carbon which can lead to an electrical fire.

Of course, if your switch or receptacle is simply loose (wobbling around on the wall), the best method is to remove the faceplate and tighten the screws holding the switch or outlet in place.

3. Extension Cord Patches

Any cable, extension cord, or wire that is wrapped in electrical tape, has exposed wiring, or insulation fraying is a hazard.  These cables need to be replaced either by removing the frayed and damaged ends and replacing the plug or by replacing the full cable.

4. GFCI Outlet Trips

If you have a GFCI that trips constantly and refuses to stay reset it could be one of two problems.  Move the appliance that you’re using to a second GFCI outlet, if the outlet trips then the appliance is likely to be at fault.  Otherwise, turn off power to the outlet and open the faceplate.  Look around the receptacle carefully for exposed wiring, damaged insulation, or any exposed wiring that might be touching the electrical box.  Replace the wiring or, if there is no evidence of a wiring fault, replace the GFCI with a functioning GFCI outlet.

5. Circuit Breaker Trips

Repeated circuit breaker trips are not just an annoyance, they’re a danger.  If your breaker is tripping repeatedly it’s due to an overloaded circuit.  Circuit overloads can occur when too much electrical demand is on the same breaker from too many devices or faulty wiring.  Try removing an appliance or a higher wattage lightbulb to test the breaker.  Otherwise, contact an electrician to inspect the breaker and look for wiring faults or damage.

Hickerson Electrical is your source for all home electrical services.  We’re ready and willing to deliver top-quality service to your home at a moment’s notice.  So call today at (703) 594-3913.

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