Sporadic blown fuses or flickering lights occur in almost every household, but some homeowners understandably don't know the difference between a costly electrical problem and a simple repair, since the signs can be so similar. While older homes can present more challenging problems than newly constructed houses, it is important to understand a few telltale signs of electrical malfunction regardless of where you live.
While a circuit tripping when you overload an outlet is understandable, if your home experiences regular blown fuses or complete blackouts, you will need to call a professional electrician. The root of this problem is normally the excessive current your circuits are drawing that they can't handle, and as a result, the circuit flips—leaving your home or room in darkness. Unfortunately, there isn't a do-it-yourself fix to this issue.
If using small appliances or turning on the central air conditioner causes your lights to flicker or diminish in intensity, they are drawing too much current for your system to handle. These devices need to assigned dedicated circuits with a greater power potential to ensure you don't experience an electrical failure, fire, or blackout.
Too Many Cords
With the increasing need for power chargers and cords for electronic devices, older homes may not be able to keep up with the demand for wall outlets. If endless cords or power adaptors have taken over your floor, you risk overloading the circuit. An electrician should be called to incorporate additional outlets in your home at intervals that eliminate the need for long extension cords or cumbersome wires.
A telltale sign of an out-of-date electrical system is the presence of two-prong plugs throughout the house. In addition to being an inconvenience with three-pronged appliances, these systems are less grounded and reliable than the modern outlet plug.
You Are In Over Your Head
While tight budgets and time on your hands may encourage you to attempt a DIY electrical repair, do keep in mind the potential for hazardous shocks or electrocutions. Although these are unlikely, if dealing with a complex circuit breaker problem is beyond your area of expertise, bring in a professional. If you do decide to pursue one of the above issues at home, read up on manuals and your home's blueprint to understand its electrical system and wiring, but keep in mind that there are plenty of difficult problems that only a seasoned home or commercial electrician should handle.