Every now and then, it’s important to carry out home electrical checks. Even though it may sound like a dreadful task, the process is quick and easy.
You can prevent serious property damage by taking the time to search for electrical issues. To make sure your electrical fixtures and wiring are in good shape, be sure to conduct these checks.
Breaker Panel Inspection
There should be 3’ of clear space around your main electrical panel, so be sure to inspect the area around it first. In case the power goes out, there should be a readily available battery-operated light nearby.
To examine the breakers, open the panel door. Can you see any signs of rodent activity or corrosion? To make sure that the circuit breakers are not corroded or stuck, flip them on and off. They may not operate correctly if they are rusty.
If you have other adults living in your home, it is a good idea to teach them how to reset the circuit breaker. After all, circuits rarely pop when it’s convenient, and you may not be around to fix it.
GFCIs and AFCIs
Outlets should be GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) protected if there is a chance they might come in touch with water. This can be in the form of a GFCI breaker in the panel, or an outlet that’s on the same circuit but farther up. You should be able to press the test button no matter where the GFCI is.
To make sure everything is up to code, it’s best to check with your electrician. According to NEC, GFCIs are a must in basements, kitchens, bathrooms, garages, and outdoor locations.
It’s also a good idea to replace your standard circuit breakers with AFCIs (Arc-fault circuit interrupters). They are designed to protect against fires and are much better at detecting dangerous electrical conditions. You should test your AFCIs and GFCIs once a month.
Test Your Outlets
A “block” or “cube” tester is a great tool that allows you to quickly test the safety of your outlets. This electrical safety device can help you keep your home safe and it doesn’t cost much. To use it, simply plug it into an outlet. If there are any wiring issues present, the relevant display lights will turn on.
Visual Inspection of Exposed Wires
If there are any visible wires in the attic, basement, or other parts of your home, inspect them for splits and cracks. Rodents are known to damage wires, so look for signs of nest building and chewing.
Don’t touch the wires with your hands. Instead, inspect them visually. If rats or mice have damaged the wires, you will need to get rid of the rodents first before you start repairing them.
If the exposed wire is on an electrical cord that can be unplugged, and the damage isn’t big, you may be able to repair the wires on your own with a bit of electrical tape.
Naturally, you will have to unplug it first. Still, whenever you are working with or around electricity, it is a good idea to use insulated gloves such as the ones featured on this data centre safety website.
No DIYer can go without extension cords. Still, you should only use them as a temporary measure. And you should never use extension cords for AC units and heaters.
Since electrical cords can potentially cause problems, be sure to examine them for nicks, cuts, and other damage. You need to make sure the extension cord is of the right gauge and length if you are using it for power tools and heavy-duty appliances. A damaged extension cord is easy to repair, but it’s always better to simply replace it.
When you are using an extension cord, check to see whether it is hot to the touch. If it is, something is wrong. Make sure all your extensions cords have an ETL, CSA, or UL rating. They should also be rated properly for outdoor or indoor use.
If there are any exterior outlets on your home, you need to make sure they are protected from animals and the elements. The exterior outlets should trip when you run a GFCI test since they should be GFCI protected.
Make sure the plugs aren’t propping the weather cover open, especially if they have been plugged in for a long time. If you have to keep the outlet in use for a longer period, you need to make sure moisture or rain won’t damage the connection.
It’s best to install an exterior outlet that has a cover with access holes. So, while the receptacle is in use, it will keep it securely closed. If you are constantly running extension cords from indoors because you don’t have enough exterior outlets, it would be much safer to install more of them.
Just like most other mechanical devices, outlets wear out over time. If plugs slip out enough to expose the plug pin, or if they sit loosely, it is time to replace the outlet. You can fix the outlet with plastic shims if it is only loose in the electrical box.
Observing the behaviour of the electronic devices in your home is a key part of any home electrical check. If an appliance or device starts behaving oddly, you should check the voltage on the outlet in which it is plugged in.
This will help you get to the root of the issue. The cause of the problem isn’t necessarily something alarming. It could be as simple as a loose wire.
Check the power at the outlet by using a multimeter or voltmeter. The readings should be between 110 and 120 volts for standard 120-volt residential outlets.
The Four Senses Test
Visual inspection is a good starting point, but it is not enough if you want to make sure the electricity in your home is safe to use. Just like extension cords, light switches can get hot to the touch.
This is a sign that something is really off. In fact, outlets shouldn’t even be warm to the touch. When the lights are on, dimmer switches can become warmer, but they should never be hot enough to be painful or uncomfortable to the touch.
To check for excessive heat, place a hand on each outlet and light switch. If it’s hot, power off the outlet or switch at the breaker.
A “hot wire” smell around an outlet or light switch is also alarming. If you notice strange smells coming from an outlet or switch, you will need to do the same—cut off the power to the outlet and call an electrician.
You can use a non-contact voltage tester to verify if the power is off. Your electrician will likely need to replace the outlet or switch in question. Cracking and popping noises coming from an outlet are also a sign of an underlying issue. If you notice such noises, the steps you should take are the same as with the previous two issues.