All right, that’s a bit overstated. There is nothing new to add to the field of residential electrical work. But we thought we might cover a few things that as a homeowner you might be interested in knowing should you need to call an electrician or even if you like to Do It Yourself.
Like most homeowners, you probably know (let’s hope you know this) that water and electricity don’t mix. Beyond that, perhaps you can do a little wiring or perhaps not. After that, the knowledge becomes hazy or non-existent. Still, you will probably have electrical problems at some point. If you’re not a DIYer, you should call a professional, LICENSED electrician.
#1 Mmmmm…The Warm, Comforting Glow of Flickering Lights
If you have an older home and you notice when the air conditioning powers on, your lights flicker. This could mean one of two things: you have undersized service or an overloaded circuit. You’ll want to take care of that unless you enjoy the lighting demonstrated by the GIF below.
#2 “Captain, the Circuits Are Overloaded!”
Homes built in the 1920s-1950s are especially prone to this: outdated or overloaded circuit breakers. Our current appliances have a much larger power demand (not to mention that we have many more kinds than were available in the past) than anything prior. Even hair dryers and curling irons can overload your home circuits.
The fix requires creating a split circuit or a dedicated circuit for a particular device or devices.
#3 The Lineman for the County Will Not Help with this
You know that cable that connects from the power pole to your house and electric meter?
You are responsible for the care of part of that cable above and below your meter. If it looks weathered, you may want it replaced. It can be a fire hazard if it isn’t properly insulated.
#4 GFCI–It Stands for Protection
Newer homes and those with electrical updates should have GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) outlets. They are designed to prevent shocks in wet conditions. They should be tested every 30 days; some newer models feature self-testing. But you can test them yourself.
You should see a test button. Press it, though you may want to unplug whatever may be plugged in first. Press the reset button. If it doesn’t trip, you’ll want to change the device, it’s bad, either by yourself or by an electrician.
#5 Surge: It’s Worse Than a Sugary Drink
That power surges can ruin expensive electronic equipment is not a secret, but what’s less well-known is that furnaces can be damaged in power spikes. Contemporary furnaces have delicate circuit boards, much like a computer, that can easily be ruined. So, it makes good sense to not only have surge protection for your electronic entertainment devices, but your furnace as well. Though, we recommend having a professional install the one for your furnace.
#6 Generators–They Can’t Just Sit There
Whether you have a stand-by or (God forbid, those eardrum-busting) portable generator, you do need to maintain them. We’ll focus on the stand-by generator.
Stand-by generators should have an automatic test cycle (so you don’t have to), but if you notice that the test cycle fails to occur, well…you might want to call your friendly-neighborhood electrician.
#7 Big Boxes
Whether you’re going to install it yourself or hire it out, be sure the box is properly rated for a ceiling fan any any other heavy fixture you may want.
So, that’s it. No matter how you handle your home electrical problems and projects, always, always, ALWAYS use caution and don’t take shortcuts.