As a homeowner, you want to feel safe and equipped to fix common, simple issues. However, when it comes to electrical, many of us don’t know much except where the breaker box is located. If you don’t know where your panel is…this is your sign to go find it! Breaker boxes are often located in low-traffic areas like the garage, utility closet, or basement.
Let’s start with the basics of your home’s electrical system.
At its core, your system consists of three main components: Circuit breakers, outlets, and wiring. Circuit breakers act as protective devices, interrupting the flow of electricity when an overload or short circuit is detected, preventing potential fires or damage. Outlets (the part we’re all familiar with) are how we connect our electrical devices or appliances to the system, allowing them to draw power. Wiring, often hidden within walls, acts as the conduit that carries electricity throughout the home from the main electrical panel to various outlets and appliances.
When an electrical device malfunctions or gets damaged, the excess electricity is directed into the ground through a grounding wire, preventing it from going where it shouldn’t (like through a person or to flammable materials). This helps protect both you and your property from electric shocks and fires. Knowing where your breaker panel is located is essential in an emergency. It contains several switches (called breakers) that control everything in your home. If anything goes wrong, you must know how to shut all power off through the main breaker before addressing the issue.
Pro Tip: Label each of the breakers in your breaker panel and use brightly colored tape or other obvious signage to mark the main breaker switch. In an emergency, there often is no time to squint at small or messy handwriting!
Now that you’ve got the basics down, let’s go over some common electrical emergencies you could experience.
Outdated Wiring: Watch for signs like flickering lights, frequent circuit overloads, or outdated two-prong outlets. Just because your system is still technically working doesn’t always mean it’s safe. Outdated wiring may pose serious risks, including electrical shocks, fires, or damage to sensitive electronic devices. When in doubt, call us to come check it out!
Overloaded Circuits: When you plug too many electrical devices into a single outlet or circuit, the circuit can overload. This can lead to too much electricity flowing through the wires, causing them to overheat and potentially start a fire. To avoid an overloaded circuit, spread out your devices across different outlets and circuits, making sure not to exceed the electrical capacity. If you notice flickering lights, frequent tripping of breakers, or hot outlets, it’s a sign that you might have an overloaded circuit, and you should unplug some devices to keep your family safe!
Electrical Shocks or Burns: You can get shocked or burned if your skin comes in contact with an electrical current. The best ways to avoid them are to always unplug electrical appliances by pulling the plastic plug, not the cord. Warn children never to go near an outlet with anything metal, and protect them by buying plastic safety plugs. Keep appliances and electrical devices away from water or damp areas.
Fire Prevention and Safety: Simply having smoke detectors installed is not enough! Test your smoke detector on a monthly basis to ensure the alarm is still working. If your smoke detector uses batteries, the batteries should be replaced yearly. If you hear a chirping sound, it’s time to change the batteries! Carbon monoxide detectors are another home essential, especially for those with gas appliances. These devices detect odorless, invisible gases and alert you if there is a toxic level of them in your home. Every home should have at least one of these!
Scheduling regular electrical inspections to keep your home safe is important.
Over time, electrical systems start to suffer from the wear and tear of everyday use, which means they are more susceptible to hazards or system failures. Getting a professional inspection by a licensed electrician will decrease your chances of an accident, as electricians can identify and address these hidden problems early on before your system is in danger.
By investing in regular electrical inspections, you can proactively safeguard your property, belongings, and, most importantly, the well-being of your family.
Have questions about our electrical services or how to schedule an appointment? Give us a call today at 434-298-2151.
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