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Safety

Wicked Wiring Warnings

What is your home telling you? 

Our homes are a lot like us. They age just like we do. They begin to creak and moan. They begin to show their age. They, like us, have aging systems, some that can be seen and some that cannot. Just as we need to get checkups from time to time, our homes also need checkups. When it comes to the electrical system in our homes, it is important to schedule a house call in response to these warning signs. If you notice any of these issues, you should immediately call a licensed electrical contractor and have him or her give your home a checkup.

You experience frequent tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses. Breakers and fuses are rated in amperes and protect the wiring in our houses from overcurrent. Overcurrent may result from an overloaded or short circuit, or a ground fault.

You feel a tingling sensation when you touch an appliance or metal object. Getting a shock from appliances in your house can indicate a more serious problem. You should immediately unplug the appliance and discontinue its use.

You notice that a receptacle or wall switch becomes discolored or is abnormally warm and/or shoots sparks. This could indicate arcing, smoldering or burning happening behind your outlets due to loose connections, damaged or improperly installed wiring in the outlet, or a problem with the receptacle itself. You should immediately avoid using the outlet or switch and contact a licensed electrical contractor as soon as possible to correct the problem.

You detect a persistent burning smell from a light fixture, appliance, room or area. This may indicate that a light fixture may have the wrong size lamp. Use only the specified wattage and trims indicated by the lighting fixture. It may also indicate that an appliance is overheating or malfunctioning. In this case, unplug the appliance or turn off the circuit breaker until further investigated.

You see flickering or dimming lights. This could indicate loose connections at electrical termination points on switches causing arcing and overheating. Left uncorrected, this poses a fire hazard. It could also indicate a short in the wiring system.

In summary, all these warning signs can be detected when your home is given its proper electrical checkup. A licensed electrical contractor may recommend the installation of lifesaving devices, such as ground-fault circuit interrupters, smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. He or she may also introduce you to arc-fault circuit interrupters, which have been required in new homes since 2000. These devices are intended to provide protection from the effects of arc faults and de-energize circuits before a fire can start. He or she might suggest that you get a total rewire of your electrical system. This is also recommended by the Consumer Product Safety Commission, the National Fire Protection Association and Underwriters Laboratories when a home is more than 40 years old. Know the warning signs, and if your electrical system is beginning to show its age, get your checkup to ensure the safe and proper operation of your electrical system.

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Source: Safe Electricity