Do you find yourself asking the question, “do I need an electrician“? If so, this guide will probably help. Here we answer 10 questions about home electrical systems.
10 Questions About Home Electrical Systems
You know you need an electrician if:
Do your home circuit breakers often trip or do your fuses continue to blow?
There are built-in safety measures in home electrical systems that avoid an electrical overload. The breakers automatically open when too much current occurs, or the fuses will melt. When circuits continue to shut done repeatedly, it is a warning sign that you shouldn’t ignore.
Are GFCI outlets properly installed where required?
In certain areas of the home, outlets require additional protection by the National Electrical Code, these include the bathroom, kitchen, garage, utility rooms, and outdoors. It is common for the GFCIs (ground-fault circuit interrupters) to be required when near wet areas, and can be identified by the RESET and TEST switches. If your home electrical system is not up to date with the GFCIs, you are not protected.
Is the use of extension cords required for reaching outlets in any room?
It is common for electrical outlets to be spaced too far from each other, especially with older homes. With modern lifestyles, it is too much demand on the outlets, and becomes hazardous when running extension cords under furniture and rugs.
Does the electrical service panel have rust on it?
Although permanent, all fixtures will eventually wear out in time. When you see rust on the main service panel, it is usually a sign that moisture is an issue or it’s in an advanced stage of deterioration.
When appliances turn on, do the lights get dim?
Appliances that require a higher-demand, such as clothes dryers, air conditioner units, furnaces, and refrigerators take more power when starting compared to other appliances. This creates a temporary current draw which can become more than a simple nuisance, it can result in sensitive equipment being damaged.
Do electrical outlets or switches feel tingly or warm?
Deteriorating or loose electrical connections, like the wiring functions found in outlets and switches can block the current flow and result in resistance. This could cause dangerous conditions that may result in shock, or even a fire.
Do you need accessory plug-strips for your outlets?
Extra current demand can be the result of having too many devices plugged in a single location, and the electrical line or individual outlet may not be able to handle it safely. The problem will not be solved by adding additional plug9in strips. What is needed are additional outlets, and there is the possibility of updated wiring throughout the home.
Do your outlets have three-prong plugs?
This third spot on outlets are for the grounding prong. Typically, this acts as an additional safety measure against electrical shock. If your outlets only have the two prong design, which is common in older homes built prior to this modern innovation, they may not be adequately grounded and need to be updated.
Is the wiring within your outlet box old, does it crumble?
When looking at your homes wiring going to outlets or switches, are you finding they are wrapped with cloth or dark rubber pieces within the electrical box? It is common for older homes to have wiring which needs to be updated to make sure it is safe for modern appliances.
Have you ever had your electrical service upgraded?
If you have a home older than 25 years, it is possible your wiring is inadequate and potentially hazardous without even knowing it. To ensure safety, have an electrician inspect your wiring thoroughly, and if needed bring the wiring system up to date with current electrical code standards.
Questions for the Electrician
If a professional contractor or electrician needs to be consulted, ensure the following questions are asked to find out if they are qualified and reliable, while being reasonably priced.
Are you licensed within this municipality?
While not every state, county or town has regulations and requirements of licenses for eletricians, but it is important to check first to find out from the local building department. Second, you should ask if the electrician in your municipality should follow established standards by the National Electrical Code.
Does my electric panel need replaced?
Currently, it is recommended by the National Electrical Code that a minimum of 100-amp of incoming electrical service is used. If your panel is providing less current, it needs to be updated to at least 100-amps or more to be within current requirements. Generally, new homes are wired with 200-amps.
Do I need to apply for a permit?
In the event a permit is required, an electrician will usually handle the application process for the homeowner. However, some municipalities will allow the homeowner to conduct minor electrical repairs or installations if a permit is secured first, then having their work inspected upon completion.
Is the electrical system in my home adequately grounded?
In the event electrical fault occurs, proper ground-wiring helps to protect the home and those in it, such as a short circuit. However, proper grounding can help protect expensive electronic devices, such as appliances and computers. This can quickly be checked by an electrician and if needed grounding capacity can be easily added.
Does the work include any hidden costs?
A thorough preliminary inspection should be conducted by the electrician, providing you with an accurate and firm estimate of everything required. The estimate will include fixture or wiring costs. If extra work is needed, it can be billed separately and negotiated.
For new installations, will you use all copper wiring?
For new homes or renovations, solid copper wiring is the ideal material. While many circuits allowe 14-gauge wire, installing a heavier 12-gauge wiring is a good idea. It costs a little more, but it is able to handle additional electrical current, resulting in energy-efficiency and being safer.
In my electrical system needs updating, does that mean the whole house needs rewired?
This depends on the situation. If you do not live in a very old home, or have antiquated wiring, you may not need to rewire your existing lines. But, if certain rooms require additional electrical capacity, outlets and new wiring are probably needed.