Most homeowners do not spend a lot of time thinking about their home’s electrical system. That can be a mistake as electrical fires are very costly. Each year, they cause $1.5 billion in property damage. There were nearly 47,000 home structure fires in the United States that were connected to some kind of electrical problem in 2011. Almost half (47%) of all of the home structural fires that occurred in the country from 2007 to 2011 did involve some sort of electrical malfunction. Knowing a little about your home’s electrical system and when to call a professional for electrical wiring repairs can go a long way in preventing one from happening in your home.
- Inspect your electrical system once a year. When you first buy a house, you should learn the exact age of the home. Find out how old its electrical system is (some people upgrade at some point). Make it a point to lean something about how it is supposed to look and do a check on it at least once a year. That way you will know how to spot problems when they are small and when you will need to call a professional for electrical wiring repairs. Hopefully, you can learn to fix smaller problems on your own.
- Get to be friends with your home’s electrical power panel. You should know how it is supposed to look. And it never hurts to get to know something about the panel. Many older homes have had their panels replaced in the past decades so it may not look like what you are accustomed to seeing when you look at the panel. You should know that the electrical panel should always feel cool. If you notice it has become hot, that is one of the reasons to use a professional electrician to check it out. That is a big red flag.
- Spend time getting to know your breakers. No one likes it when they trip but if they start to do it more often than usual, that could be another sign that you need to bring someone in to do some electrical wiring repairs. Now, if you have recently added a big appliance, you may want to look into plugging it in to a different circuit on your system. You may just have overloaded one circuit. That is another reason to know your system. Then when you do install new appliances, you will know where to plug them in.
- Have at least one fire extinguisher handy. Hands down, the best way to end an electrical fire is with a fire extinguisher. Water is the last thing you should use in the event of an electrical fire. Get to know how to use the fire extinguishers in your home. If you have a multi-story home, you need more than one. Keep one on each floor of your home. They do not last forever so find out how often yours need to be maintained and replaced. A faulty fire extinguisher will not help much if you have an electrical fire.
- Watch your outlets. From time to time, go around your home and check on the state of your outlets. If they are getting to be hot or even warm, this may be an indication of electrical problems somewhere in your system. Also check the general state of your outlets. When you cannot keep a plug in your outlet, it is time to look into replacing it. You should also pay attention to your lighting. When you notice they start flickering, you may want to call an electrician to see if you need any electrical wiring repairs.
Keeping your electrical system healthy and happy is not rocket science. It is often about paying attention and getting to know the ins and out of your wiring system. Another thing you can do is upgrade your appliances if they are old to increase the your home energy efficiency. There are often federal, state and local programs that may offer you rebates or tax incentives to upgrade your appliances and even your roofing. Plus, the improved home energy efficiency will reduce your utility bills and every homeowner is interested in that.