25 Apr How to Detect Faulty Wiring, and What to Do About It(Last Updated On: June 28, 2017)
Faulty wiring in your home is no laughing matter. In fact, faulty wiring is one of the five most common causes of electrical fires. The good news is there are some warning signs that can indicate faulty wiring, and by detecting faulty wiring early, you can devastating fires as well as the inconvenience of flickering lights and inconsistent electrical performance.
Know the Signs of Faulty Wiring
If you’re noticing dimming or flickering lights or are experiencing frequent blown breakers or fuses, there’s a good chance that faulty wiring may be to blame. Other common symptoms of faulty wiring include charred or darkened outlets and switches, a burning smell (indicating a wiring issue that’s quite serious and should be addressed immediately), hot ceiling fixtures, or light switches and outlets that are emitting shocks more frequently.
Sometimes, these issues can be caused by homeowners’ actions. For instance, if you have multiple extension cords connected together or are loading up your electrical outlets with a multitude of appliances, what appears to be a faulty wiring issue could be an easily rectified behavior. A few notable wiring issues of this nature include:
- Too few outlets, relying on multiple extension cords and power strips
- No ground fault circuit interruptors (GFCIs) particularly in areas such as the kitchen and bathroom
- Frayed wiring
- Damaged or bent electrical plugs
- Ungrounded receptacles
- Uncovered junction boxes
Some of these potential concerns can be remedied by lightening the load on individual receptacles, repairing or replacing frayed wiring and damaged or bent plugs, ensuring that all receptacles and junction boxes are covered, and installing GFCIs. Once you’ve corrected these issues, you should follow safe electrical practices and ensure that your family members understand the dangers of risky behaviors such as connecting multiple extension cords and using damaged electrical plugs.
Have a Licensed Electrician Inspect Your Wiring
If you’re unsure if your wiring is faulty, enlist the aid of a professional electrician who can inspect the wiring throughout your home. Licensed electricians are knowledgeable in identifying potential dangers and wiring issues, and they can often detect small, seemingly insignificant wiring issues that could become major problems and safety hazards over time.
Additionally, a licensed electrician will compare your home’s wiring to the current building codes, identifying code violations. However, not every code violation is necessarily a cause for immediately rewiring your entire home. Some codes have grandfather clauses, meaning if your home was constructed prior to the implementation of a particular code, you may not be required to make immediate updates to bring your wiring up to code. That said, codes exist to ensure minimum safety standards, so it’s a good idea to start thinking about a rewiring project if your electrician pinpoints any violations.
Some code violations are easy to fix, such as light fixtures powering bulbs that exceed the fixture’s maximum wattage. Even an issue such as having too few electrical outlets in a room can be corrected without incurring the expense of rewiring the entire home in many cases, provided that there are no other serious wiring flaws. A licensed electrician will provide you with a detailed analysis of any violations, their level of risk, and their recommendations for updating your wiring.
How to Address Faulty Wiring
Homeowners without electrical experience should never attempt to replace their home’s wiring on their own. There are many building codes that must be followed, industry standards, and safety considerations when working with electrical wiring and electrical panels that require the skilled hand of a qualified electrician.
There are some wiring issues that homeowners can (and should) take care of on their own as part of regular home maintenance. For instance, you should monitor your receptacles and immediately replace outlets that are worn out or damaged in any way, and homeowners with the skill and knowledge can replace outdated circuit breakers and fuses when necessary. However, for more advanced electrical wiring projects, enlisting the help of a licensed electrician is the only way to go. It may seem tempting to save a few dollars by doing it yourself, but electrical wiring is one of those tasks that requires skilled expertise.