Residential Outlets Not Working?

common issues with electrical outlets

Residential Outlets Not Working?

Over the years, we have performed thousands of calls for homeowners like yourself repairing outlets that don’t work. Electrical issues can be very dangerous for the obvious reasons; all of which boil down to safety.

  • If you have a leak – you call a plumber to prevent water damage to your home.
  • If your air conditioner quits working – you call a HVAC repairman to avoid being hot.

However, in many cases electrical issues are left to fester into big problems because homeowners cannot see any sign of damage until it is too late.

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), there are over 47,000 electrical fires per year. These fires can be prevented with proper maintenance and repair of your electrical system. The electrical wires, panels, and devices are no different than your car or A/C system, all of which need to be maintained and serviced in order to operate properly and safely.

In some cases, historic homes are 30-50 years old, which means the electrical system is just as old. Wiring of this age can be extremely dangerous and outdated and older electrical systems should be inspected by a licensed electrician every 12-24 months to ensure safe operation.

In our experience, many small issues go left unattended as people learn to run extension cords and make do with the outlets that are left working. This is not only a safety issue for you and your family, this can also cause damage to your electrical system turning minor repairs into costly upgrades.

From outlets to circuit breakers and a few things in between, here are some of the more common issues we run into on a regular basis.

Protect Outlets with Tripped Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI)

GFCI protection is a safety device required by the National Electrical Code for all outlets that are in areas in close proximity to water and are susceptible to shock hazard. Protection can either be installed using a GFCI breaker or outlet. Outlets installed in bathrooms, kitchens, garages, unfinished basements and outside are required to be protected. Many times these outlets are installed on the same circuit and protected by one GFCI outlet. This GFCI that protects this circuit, is typically located closest to the panel, and is installed so that it protects every other outlet “downstream” from it, or connected on the circuit after it.

If there is a fault, this outlet will trip and the other standard outlets connected on the circuit after it will shut-off. In this case, you need to locate the tripped GFCI receptacle, and push the reset button. If it continues to trip, or will not reset, you should contact a licensed electrician.

Circuit Breakers Protect Wires & Electronic Devices

Circuit breakers are designed to protect the wire and devices connected to the circuit. The circuit starts at the breaker in your panel, if the breaker is overloaded, or there is a short, the breaker will trip. If you determine the breaker is tripped, push to the handle of the breaker to the off position and then back to the on position. If it continues to trip, you guessed it – call a licensed electrician.

Open Circuits May Mean Electrical Problems

These problems can be difficult to find for the average homeowner. It will require the proper tools and advanced do-it yourself skills. If your problem is not a tripped circuit breaker or GFCI receptacle that will not reset, this means you have a serious electrical breakdown.

These issues are the most dangerous, as a portion of the circuit will continue to work, but because the circuit cannot complete its path, it will build up resistance on the wiring and devices. This resistance generates high temperatures causing damage to your electrical system.

While annual or bi-annual maintenance cannot always prevent these issues, they can minimize the chances, and/or provide early detection to service the issue before it requires a major repair or replacement to correct.

For any electrical or other home service needs, remember that Snappy is here 24/7 to help.

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