Causes of Common Electrical Problems

Diagnosing a problem and rectifying it should in almost all cases be left to a licensed electrician. Some problems can be tackled by a home owner, such as changing a light bulb or testing an RCD, and this guide should give you an idea of how to deal with some of the most common electrical problems in the home. It will also help you get as much information about the problem, before calling someone to repair any faults.

Safety first

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Photo: aplumb

Electricity is not to be messed with. It is deadly and can kill without warning. So it is always best to leave any work to a licensed electrician, especially if you don’t know the cause of the problem. Installing two RCDs (residual current device) in your home will also help protect your family from electrocution. They are designed to cut the power if they detect an imbalance in the electrical current and are widely regarded as being a life-saver. Changing something as simple as a light globe poses little risk, however, but if you are unsure there is no harm is turning the power off at the mains while you do it.

Light bulbs

If you have a light bulb that burns out much faster than others in your home, then the wattage is probably an issue. Every light socket is rated for a maximum wattage, so installing a bulb that is too strong can cause it to burn out quicker. Flickering lights are also a common problem and can often mean faulty wiring. Always change the bulb first to see if that fixes the problem and note if the flickering affects just one light or others too – more than one flickering light points to a bigger problem, so call an electrician.

RCD tripping

If your RCD trips out but you are able to reset it with no problems then there is little to worry about. But if the RCD continues to trip when you attempt to reset it then it is likely an appliance in the home is the cause. To determine the cause, go around the home and unplug all appliances and then see if the RCD will reset. If it does then it is just a matter of plugging the appliances back in until you come across the one that trips out the RCD. This then shows that the particular appliance – it could be TVs, dishwashers or any other common household items – has a problem. You can then leave it unplugged while waiting for an expert to repair it. If you can’t find the culprit, it’s time to call an electrician.

Power surges

Occasionally your electrical system may receive a sudden surge of power, the source of which is unlikely to be your home. Lightning, downed power lines, faulty wiring or problems with the utility company’s equipment are the most common causes. Electrical items such as computers, televisions and home entertainment systems should all be guarded by a power surge protector, which are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. The best way to protect against surges is to turn appliances off at the wall when not in use – it will also save you money.

Some electrical issues in the home can easily be addressed by the home owner. But remember if in doubt, always get in the professionals. Electricity can be deadly.

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