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How to Troubleshoot Electrical Problems in Your Home

line of lightbulbs with lights on

Signs of Electrical Trouble

Are you having electrical issues? If so, you may not know the source of the problem or whether it is something you can fix yourself. The first step to resolving your electrical issue is identifying the source of your problem by troubleshooting the issue. To troubleshoot effectively, you need to know the common signs of an electrical problem. This will help you rule out other problems, such as a problem with the device or fixture you're trying to use.

Symptoms of an electrical problem include:

  • Frequently tripped breakers or blown fuses
  • Flickering lights
  • Buzzing sounds coming from an electrical appliance
  • Warm outlets
  • Scorch marks around outlets
  • An electrical burning smell
  • Lightbulbs keep blowing despite being the right size and wattage

If you notice any of the above signs, there is a chance you have a problem with your electrical system. Dealing with an electrical problem yourself can be frustrating and possibly dangerous. While fixing a blown lightbulb is easy, other issues take a little more to work out.

At Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar, we know how frustrating electrical problems can be. Below we provide some helpful troubleshooting tips for three common electrical problems. Keep reading to learn more.

Troubleshooting Lighting Problems

Lighting issues are common, from fixtures that never work correctly, to flickering bulbs. There are a lot of reasons why a lighting fixture will stop working. In many cases, the bulb may be the issue – it's either burned out or is the wrong wattage. This is an easy thing to fix. Other common lighting problems include problems with the fixture circuit, issues with the switch, too many things plugged into one outlet or a problem with the fixture itself.

So, what should you do if you notice a problem with the lighting in your home? The first thing you want to do is figure out if the problem is with the lighting fixture or your electrical system.

Tips for troubleshooting common lighting problems:

  • Check the light bulb first – is it burned out or loose in its socket?
  • Check to see if you have the proper wattage bulb for the fixture.
  • See if the socket tab in the center of the socket is flattened, causing the bulb to lose contact.
  • Turn off the power at the circuit breaker and check the switch connections, making sure they are tight.
  • Keep the power off and check the wire connections, making sure they are also tight

After troubleshooting, you may have a better idea of what's going on with your lighting. If it's something simple like cleaning the contact between the bulb and the socket or replacing a bulb - great! You're done! If it is something to do with the wiring, or you can't figure it out, we recommend calling us and we will send one of our electricians to help.

Troubleshooting Outlet Issues

After lighting problems, outlet issues are some of the most common. Outlet problems can also be dangerous and cause dangerous electrical shocks or fires. Therefore, if you notice a problem with one of your outlets or your outlet goes dead, do not ignore it.

Outlet troubleshooting tips:

  • Check the appliance you're trying to use in another outlet you know to be working – this will confirm whether the problem is with the outlet or the appliance.
  • Confirm that there isn't a switch associated with the outlet - and if there is, confirm that it is in the "onandquot; position
  • If it is a GFCI outlet, try resetting it to see if it's been tripped
  • If other neighboring outlets are also not working, check your breaker box to see if the circuit has been tripped

If you notice that the outlet is warm to the touch while troubleshooting, has scorch marks around it or buzzes when something is plugged in, call our electricians right away. These issues can indicate a serious problem.

Additionally, if you suspect there is a problem with the wiring in your outlet, you should consult with one of our electricians. Wiring must be repaired or replaced correctly to ensure safe operation and it is always recommended that you leave wiring work to the pros.

Troubleshooting Circuit Trouble

Circuit breaker problems are less common than lighting and outlet issues, but they do happen. The most common circuit breaker problem we see is breakers tripping excessively. A number of issues can cause this. Some are easily fixed and some require the help of a licensed electrician.

Things to check when having circuit breaker issues:

  • Identify which circuit isn't working and see if that circuit has been tripped. If it has, turn off all lights and appliances, reset the breaker, and see if it is working again.
  • Check to make sure you don't have too many appliances or devices plugged into one outlet or circuit, causing it to trip
  • Turn off the breaker, unplug all appliances and devices and check if any scorch marks or warmth are coming from the outlets.

If your circuit breaker is still tripping excessively or you cannot identify where the problem is, call Valley. Circuit breaker repairs should always be done by a licensed, experienced electrician like ours at Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar. Never attempt to work on your circuit breaker alone.