7 most common home electrical issues
In today’s real estate market, buyers are finding themselves out of luck. The historical seller’s market during the covid-19 pandemic has resulted in high home prices and low inventory levels.
When buying a home today, it’s important to be sure that there are no major issues with the property. You don’t have as much money for repairs when you are already paying record-high prices.
In this blog post, we’ll walk through some of the most common electrical issues you might find in a house. Be sure to look out for these in your inspection report.
1. Circuit breaker problems
If you experience issues such as overloading, overheating, or a ground fault, the circuit breaker interrupts the current flow to prevent further damage. It's normal and safe for your circuit breaker to trip occasionally. However, if this happens frequently, it could mean trouble.
Occasional trips could be due to too many devices being plugged in simultaneously or a high-voltage device being used. However, if your circuit breaker keeps tripping, it could indicate underlying electrical problems in your home. You should hire a licensed professional to look into the issue in this case.
Your circuit breaker could also be tripping due to a defect in the breaker box. Circuit breakers deteriorate over time, so it's good practice to get them inspected every few years. Some signs of a faulty circuit breaker are visible damage to the board, overheating, or a burning smell. This would cost you around $1,700 and $2,200 to replace a breaker box.
2. Electrical surges
An electrical surge occurs when there's a spike in current in your power outlet. Sometimes this happens due to lightning strikes, an error from your electrical company, or a faulty power line. These current surges only last for about a second; however, surges can damage your appliances and reduce their lifespan.
If your home experiences frequent electrical surges, you should use surge protectors to protect your appliances. They are super cheap (around $10) and can save you a lot of money. Alternatively, if your devices frequently overheat or your power connection has regular current surges, you should contact an electrician to look into it. A home surge protector costs between $250-$300, or close to $500 if you include the installation fees.
3. Dips in current
Brownouts occur when current levels dip below the minimum threshold to keep your electronics (and lights on). They result in a small “blink” where lighting turns off for a fraction of a second.
In most cases, brownouts are intentionally caused by energy providers to prevent the whole system from failing and blacking out. In other cases, they may be caused by outlets made with substandard materials that draw too much power when switched on.
If your home experiences occasional dips in current, it's nothing to be concerned about. You should invest in a backup or uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to provide your home with steady electricity. You can also try reducing the number of devices plugged in at a time. However, if current dips occur often, you should call a professional to assess your outlets and resolve the issue.
4. Circuit overload
Circuit breaker problems can be attributed to the overloading of power boards. A circuit overload usually occurs in homes with insufficient power outlets as, with fewer outlets, each outlet is exposed to more usage. This is hazardous since overloading causes the outlets to heat up and burn out.
In case of burnt-out outlets, remember not to plug in any devices as these could spark a fire and severely damage your home.
You can use heavy-duty extension cords to divide your power usage across multiple outlets as a temporary fix (don’t rely on this long-term). Additionally, remember to switch off and unplug any device that isn't in use. Therefore, it’s best to call a professional electrician to fix your outlets or install more panels in your home. These panels will cost you anywhere between $1,000-$4,000, depending on the amp level you choose.
5. Dead outlets
If an outlet in your home has stopped working altogether, it's usually a result of excessive load on that outlet, causing it to burn out. Meddling with the outlet or forcing it to work could spark a fire in such a situation.
We recommend calling an electrical professional to get your outlet fixed. You should also be mindful of how you use the other outlets in your home at this time to prevent overloading them and putting your entire electrical framework at risk.
You can avoid overloading outlets by removing phone chargers when they are not in use, as they draw power even when your phone is not plugged in. You should also spread your electrical devices across various outlets to avoid overloading an electrical point.
Repairing an outlet costs anywhere between $65-$200, depending on the type of outlet.
6. High electrical bills
Did you know the average American pays over $1,300 per year for electricity?
Saving electricity helps your wallet and the planet. Of course, most people know to switch off the lights when they leave a room, but here are some more strategic ways to reduce your electricity usage without sacrificing your daily comforts:
Things you can do
- Unplug devices when they aren’t in use (some use idle power)
- Wash your clothes with cold water
- Use a smart thermostat
- Use LED lightbulbs
- Ensure all windows and doors are properly sealed
Things you can ask your electrician to do
- Repair any damaged wires, outlets, or circuits
- Install smart power strips that let you turn off all devices simultaneously
- Clean your refrigerator coils
- Install dimmer switches
7. Aluminum wiring in homes
During the spike in copper prices in America from 1960 to mid-1970, construction companies began using aluminum wiring in residential buildings. Aluminum was a cheap substitute for copper but is highly unsafe. It expands and contracts more than copper when heated and corrodes when it comes in contact with any copper wiring. This causes loose connections, leading to fires.
You can identify aluminum wiring through flickering lights, hot switches or outlets, dead outlets, and a burning smell from the outlets in your home.
It costs $85-$200 per outlet to repair aluminum wiring, while replacing it costs $300-$500 per outlet. Replacing the aluminum wiring is the wiser choice if you plan to stay in your home for a long time since copper wiring is much safer.
The bottom line
Home electrical problems are common but still shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can identify and avoid severe electrical damage by getting regular home inspections. Inspectors won’t fix the issues for you, but they will assess the condition of your home to ensure your wiring and circuits are intact. Getting your home regularly inspected will help you detect causes and signs of faulty wiring so you can mitigate the adverse effects and minimize repair costs.
If you still have any more questions, please comment below or reach out to us. We'd be more than happy to help!