Electrical issues can be frustrating and sometimes hazardous. Here are the top 5 electrical problems our electricians see.
Top 5 Common Electrical Problems
1. Electrical outlets in the kitchen and bathroom are not working
Most homes these days are equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupts, or GFCI for short, in the kitchen and bathroom. These are specialized outlets that detect changes in the current flowing through the outlet. When the flow changes, usually because of moisture, the GFCI “senses” it and shuts off the current.
There are two main reasons your kitchen or bathroom GFCI outlet is not working:
GFCI sensed a problem and shut off
In this case, make sure the appliance or tool you are using is not in contact with moisture. Dropping your electric mixer into a sink of water, for example, would trip the GFCI and stop the electrical current. Old or damaged appliances might cause this as well. Remove the source of the problem and then press the “reset” button on the outlet.
Keep in mind that the outlet turning off is a sign of a problem. Unless you know exactly what caused the problem, like putting an appliance in contact with water, always call a licensed electrician. They are trained to safely examine and repair electrical problems.
GFCI shut off accidentally
Occasionally, the GFCI will turn off on accident. If pressing the reset button does not fix the problem, call an electrician. Many GFCI outlets are programmed to shut down completely when they wear out or malfunction. If your electricity in the outlet is not restored after you have reset the outlet, or experience continued electrical failures, call an experienced electrician.
Note: If the outlets in your kitchen, bathroom, garage and yard are not GFCI, they need to be. Your risk of electrocution is greater when using non-GFCI outlets. A GFCI outlet could save your life or the life of a family member.
2. Outlets in other parts of the house are not working
There are several reasons the outlets in the rest of the house might not be working. See if garage and outdoor outlets are GFCI and if moisture has caused them to fail. For non-GFCI outlets, it could be improper wiring. Do not try to check for this issue yourself because an exposed wire could electrocute you. Always hire a professional.
Also, check the circuit breaker. If it is tripped, reset it. But if you continue to have problems, have an electrician look at it.
3. The circuit breaker keeps tripping
The electrical panel in your home controls the electrical flow throughout the house. Flipping the breakers, which look like switches, shuts off or turns on electricity in different areas of your home. When an area of the house, say the kitchen, is using more electricity than the circuit is designed to handle, the breaker that controls that room will “trip”. When a breaker “trips”, it automatically switches to “off”, interrupting the electrical flow to the room. Breakers can also trip if there are problems with any electrical wiring in the home.
This is an important function because overloading the circuit or faulty wiring can lead to fires. If manually resetting the breaker, or turning it back on, does not fix the problem or it continues to trip, call an electrician. Something more serious might be going on.
4. You electrical panel is Zinsco or Federal Pacific (FPE)
Your electrical panel keeps your family safe, but old panels might not stop the electrical current when there is a problem. If you are not sure how old your panel is, look at the brand name. Zinsco and Federal Pacific (FPE) panels are very old and often do not trip when they should. You need to be replace a panel like this because it can fail to interrupt the electrical current when there is a problem. When it fails to trip, it can electrocute you or cause a fire in your home.
5. Light fixtures are not working
There are multiple reasons that a light fixture won’t work. First, check to see if the lightbulb is the source of your troubles. Make sure the bulb is screwed in correctly, and if it is, try replacing it. That may be the easiest solution.
When the lightbulb isn’t the problem, check your electrical panel to see if the breaker tripped. If it has tripped, turn it back on. The light fixture should start working again if this is the problem.
If the breaker trips again or the light fixture still doesn’t come on, there might be something more going on. Call an electrician if you continue to experience problems. If not, the light fixture might just be old and need to be replaced. It also could be wired incorrectly. Do not to try to fix this issue yourself. Call an electrician.
Whether you are experiencing a simple electrical problem or a complicated issue, TLC’s team of experienced electricians are ready to help. If you have a question about an electrical problem, you can “Ask A Pro” or schedule service today.
Dakota is one of our expert licensed electricians. He has several years of experience electrical repair. He is also experienced in electrical upgrades and retrofits for residential homes. He has been with TLC for 5 years.