Troubleshooting Common Electrical Problems

If you are struggling with an electrical problem, there are steps you can take before you need to call an expert. After all, if you can successfully solve a problem on your own, you will end up saving money, and potentially learning a valuable skill. Here are a few steps that you can take if you are encountering an electrical problem, as well as our advice on when you should call an expert. No matter your situation, all electrical problems can and usually should be fixed.


Usually, one of the most common problems people notice with their electrical systems are issues with their lighting. There are few things more frustrating than going to turn on a light and realizing that it isn’t working. But there are a huge variety of things which could have gone wrong.

The first thing to check is obviously the bulb. Most people are aware of this, and it is typically the first thing people will check. If this is the case, then it’s a relatively easy fix. However, take the time to make sure you are using the best bulb for the fitting. First, check to make sure that your bulb is the proper fit for the socket. If you don’t get a bulb which is designed for that socket, you could have a fire risk, or at least decrease the life of your bulb. Ill do a future post in which I explain light bulb choices in detail. However, if the bulb is not the problem, it means there is a flaw in your circuit somewhere.

Then, check other electrical items on the same circuit. If there are other electrical devices or lights which are not receiving power in the area, it is possible that the entire circuit is out. Check your breaker box. There is a chance that the breaker has tripped, and that no appliances on that larger circuit have access to electricity. Look for a breaker which is loose, or different from the others, and reset it by moving it back to its starting position.

If other nearby items are functioning, and you have checked your breaker box, you now need to investigate a bit deeper. You have now done nearly all that you can without opening up the electrical system and getting into the wiring. This is not recommended unless you have electrical experience and the tools necessary to work safely. If there is a problem in the wiring somewhere, you will likely need a professional electrician to come and look at your situation. Do not delay, as this is potentially a very dangerous fire risk.

These steps are similar to how you can troubleshoot any electrical circuit that is not working as intended. However, there are situations where a circuit may appear to be functioning where there are still signs that maintenance is needed, before extensive damage can be done.

For example, flickering lights are a key sign that you need an inspection for you electrical system. While they may appear to be nothing but an inconvenience, they signal a potential loose or shorted wire. If your wiring is not properly connected, it could be a massive fire hazard. There are many areas where the connection could be poor. It could be in the light socket, in the larger circuit, or even where the main lines connect to your house. Whatever the case, you absolutely should take this problem seriously, and find out where the failure is. Skipping out on paying right now is a great way to end up paying a lot more later, when failure occurs.

Electrical Discharge

Another common problem you should investigate is if you notice that there is a lot of heat around or in a circuit. For example, if you go to unplug an appliance and realize that the outlet is very warm to the touch, this is a sign that there is energy being lost into the surroundings of the circuit. Energy discharging out of a circuit is not only a risk for electric shock for all nearby, but it also means that there could be a fire. If this happens, do some detective work. Is it just this one area? Or are there multiple areas where you can feel heat being lost. Are there scorch marks somewhere? If you find scorch marks from an electrical discharge, you should call an electrician right away. Turn off the power, and be aware that you were lucky to catch this before it got worse.

No matter the situation, always be careful when dealing with electricity. If you do not have the experience and tools necessary to work safely, take the time to step back, turn off the power, and think about calling a professional before you get in over your head.  Your safety should always be the first priority.

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