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What are the Most Common Electrical Problems?

Standard U.S. power outlet.
Fuses in a fusebox.
Frayed wires at the point of connection is a simple electrical problem that has a simple solution.
A plug, which goes into an electrical outlet.
A fuse. Fuses are designed to trip if there is a short circuit.
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  • Written By: Carol Francois
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 September 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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There are four very common electrical problems: intermittent power, power surges, redundant wiring, and overloaded circuits. All these issues can cause electrical fires and need to be addressed and corrected as soon as possible. These issues are easy to identify and correct.

Intermittent power is a symptom of a wiring problem. The cause of this common electrical problem is loose wiring. To check for this type of problem, trace the electrical cable from the unit to the plug. Look for any sign of wear, fray, or exposed wiring. Take apart the electrical item to locate the connection point of the power to the unit.

If the wiring is frayed at the point of connection, then simply use wire cutters to cut away the damaged section. Use wire strippers to remove the plastic coating and expose the wires. Once they are exposed, you can reconnect the power cable to the electrical item.

Power surges are caused by sudden increases in the power provided by the electricity company. This increase can overload the circuit and cause the electrical item to turn off. There is no way to correct this at the consumer level. The best way to manage these types of common electrical problems is to purchase power bars. Plug your electronic equipment into the power bar. This unit has a built in circuit to ensure that any surges that go to the power outlet are run through another circuit.

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Redundant wiring is a very common electrical problem that occurs in homes where the previous owner was creating their own electrical wiring. Not all the wiring is used, and in many cases, live wires are left without being properly capped or terminated. Take the time to trace all the electrical wiring to ensure there are no hidden surprises or weak connections.

Overloaded circuits can occur when additional power outlets are created to use existing wiring as their source. This shortcut method creates problems where multiple appliances are plugged in and drawing power at the same time. The demand exceeds the capacity and causes short fuses. Ask an electrician to determine the power drain on each circuit and arrange to correct the wiring to ensure that each circuit load is balanced.

The signs of electrical problems include a recurring need to reset the fuse for a particular circuit or flickering lights. If your computer crashes due to electrical surges and there are problems using multiple appliances in the same room, these are additional signs of a wiring problem. Take the time to investigate electrical problems as a potential cause.

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Discuss this Article

EdRick
Post 2

@SailorJerry - I am so sorry about what happened to your uncle. You are right, I'm sure, that major wiring projects should be left to electricians.

But consumers can make some of their own simple repairs *if* they take proper precautions. Obviously, the power should always be shut off at the circuit breaker before you get started, and you might want to invest in an inexpensive battery-powered circuit detector. These beep when they are near a live wire, so they verify that you have, indeed, turned off the power to the outlet.

The kinds of repairs that are realistic for careful consumers are things like replacing a faulty light switch or installing a dimmer. You don't necessarily need to pay an electrician for that sort of thing.

SailorJerry
Post 1

Unless you have special training, these problems are best left to electricians! It is good to have some idea what is going on as it helps you tell honest service providers from those who are less so. But stay away from the wiring!

An uncle of mine and his son-in-law were both fully trained and qualified electricians. And yet, they were both electrocuted on the job and died. As I heard the story, the uncle was trying to save the son-in-law.

So to me, this is one of those things better left to professions. If you fool with your own plumbing, you might make a mess, destroy your subflooring and cost yourself a lot of money -- but that's nothing compared to what you could lose trying to solve your own electrical problems at home.

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