How To Check Electrical Wiring In Your Home?
The electrical wiring in your home keeps your appliances, gadgets, HVAC unit and other important equipment running smoothly and safely. When problems develop, though, you face much more than an inconvenience. Each year, more than 50,000 homes are lost to fires caused by faulty wiring and electrical issues. Knowing the signs of wiring problems and how to locate them ensures that your family is safe.
Signs of Electrical Wiring Problems
Many electrical problems in homes in and around Seattle go unnoticed or are dismissed due to the age of the structure. However, you should pay attention, especially if you notice:
- Electrical burning smells
- Tripping circuit breakers
- Damaged wires
- Outlets that vibrate or feel warm
- Scorched wires or outlets
If you notice any of these issues, shut off the circuit breakers right away. You can then check the wiring system yourself or call Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning to schedule an appointment with one of our technicians.
Routine Safety Checks for Electrical Wiring
Electrical wiring checks are a great way to keep your home and family safe, and you can run through the checklist as a preventive measure. Often, homeowners in Seattle and surrounding areas of Washington find smaller signs of trouble and take care of the problem before anything major happens. We recommend that you perform a routine check on your electrical wiring once a month for older homes and once every three to six months for newer homes.
Shut Off the Power
The first step for any type of electrical wiring project is to shut off power throughout your house. You can do this at the circuit breaker box. It is normally located in the garage, but it may be in a basement or one of the rooms. You will see a series of smaller circuit breakers and one large breaker. Turn all of them off. Next, go through each room of your house to check for power. Turning on the lights is typically enough. You should also see if your kitchen and laundry appliances are off.
Check the Circuit Breaker Panel
Start your wiring system inspection at the circuit breaker box. You may need a flashlight. Look for signs of burning, blackening or corrosion. Next, test each breaker to make sure that they move easily and do not get stuck as they move. Also, check the wall around the breaker box, looking for the same signs.
Test GFCI Outlets
Ground fault circuit interrupt (GFCI) outlets have a red and black button between the plugs. These outlets are normally installed in areas near water sources. You may find them in your kitchen and bathroom. GFCI outlets are safety mechanisms that protect your family against harm if they overload the outlet or touch it with wet hands.
To test the outlet, press the red button. This should make the black button pop up, indicating that the circuit is working properly. Next, press the black button to reset the GFCI. The black button should be easy to press. If you cannot reset the outlet, it may need to be replaced. Due to the nature of the safety aspect of a GFCI outlet, you should not use one that fails the test or cannot be reset.
Test All Outlets
You can find GFCI testers, also known as cube testers, at any local hardware or home improvement store. The tool has a plug, button and series of indicator lights. Plug the tester into each outlet in your home. The pattern of lights tells you if there is a problem with the outlet as well as what type of problem it is. Some of the issues that can be detected with this tester are:
- Hot/ground reverse
- Open ground
- Open hot
- Open neutral
The tool will also tell you if everything checks out with the outlet.
Check Exposed Wires
Rodents, time and DIY construction projects are all enemies of wiring systems in your home. The protective outer coating of wires can fray, break down and split, leaving interior wires open to the elements and curious fingers. Go around to every room of your house and your garage to visually inspect any exposed wires. Also check around appliances, hot water heaters, furnaces, and air conditioning systems. If you find a problem, have the wire replaced or repaired by a professional from Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning.
Another tool that you can find at the local hardware or home improvement store is a voltage tester. The device fits into the outlet plugs and tells you if the voltage is within a normal range. For U.S. households with 120-volt outlets, the voltage meter should read between 100 and 130 volts. If you get a higher or lower reading, there is something amiss with the outlet. Stop using it, and call us to have a technician come replace it.
Surge Protectors, Power Strips and Outlet Extenders
As technology has become more of a centerpiece in our lives, so too does our demand for power sources. If you have a typical Seattle home, you most likely have several surge protectors, power strips and outlet extenders. Because these devices plug into your general wiring system, they deserve some attention during your inspection. Look for damage to the outer protective coating, such as small cuts and nicks. If you find a problem, stop using the device and buy a replacement.
Extension cords are also becoming more common in Seattle homes. Be sure to check the ones inside your home as well as those you use for yard work. Check the plugs for signs of damage and loose prongs. Pay particular attention to three-prong cords; the third prong grounds the cord. If the prong is missing or loose, it’s time to replace the extension cord. Check around your extension cords for any signs of pests and rodents. Chances are that your extension cords are targets for their gnawing and nesting.
Use Your Senses
Of all the tools that you can use to check the wiring system in your home, your senses are the most sensitive. Listen for buzzing and vibrating. Look for damaged wires, smoke and burns. Smell for unusual aromas. Take your time, and trust yourself to do a good job.
When to Call a Professional
If you ever feel uneasy with checking your electrical wiring or find a particularly concerning issue, please call Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning right away. We can determine the nature of the problem and provide expert guidance on what needs to be done. Whether you suspect problems or just want to know that everything is in good shape, you can also always call us to schedule a time for one of our technicians to come by and perform an in-depth inspection of your wiring system.
Black Lion Heating & Air Conditioning is your source for home electrical experts in the Seattle area. We can also help with all your heating and cooling needs, including installation, maintenance and repairs. Besides that, we handle indoor air quality, duct cleaning and hot water heaters. Whether you suspect that your home has wiring issues or you’re looking for another service, give us a call today.