Many common electrical problems have visible effects but hidden causes. Left unchecked, these often seemingly minor symptoms can cause much larger problems before you know it. Here are a few common problems with underlying causes that should be fixed as soon as possible.
Some lights are running dimly while others are getting extra bright
Have you had strange things going on with your lights lately? It’s also possible that one of your appliances has died unexpectedly. These problems can be caused by a bad main neutral connection or a bad neutral connection shared by only two circuits.
While this is a fairly easy fix for a licensed electrician, it shouldn’t be something to put off for long. Since things aren’t properly grounded properly, light bulbs might even pop and other electronics in your home could become damaged beyond repair.
Dead outlets in the bathroom, garage, kitchen or outdoors
Since the 1970’s, outlets in bathrooms, garages, kitchens and outdoors are required to have GFIs or Ground-Fault Interrupters. These are good devices, as they make an outlet go dead if it detects a problem which may shock you. A hair dryer or other small appliance if often what causes this to happen. It means that the outlet is not properly grounded and the underlying problem should be fixed ASAP.
Wall switches that get warm
So that you know, dimming switches often do get warm. However, with other types of switches, there could be an underlying connection problem. Regular switches should never be much warmer than room temperature. Very warm or hot switches mean that a fix is needed.
One common problem is that people try to use 15-amp switches on a 20-amp circuit. This leads to what is called excessive load. In this case, a proper switch should be installed immediately. The switch could also be failing from wear and tear or there is a faulty wiring. In both of these cases, the switch should also be replaced, as it could become a fire risk.
A lamp or appliance buzzes or vibrates when you turn it on – it may even give you a slight shock.
Sometimes if a lamp buzzes, you just have a bad lamp and it needs to be replaced. But if it vibrates or even gives you a little shock, there might be a wiring problem beyond just the lamp itself. If you experience a similar problem with an appliance, you may want to have an electrician check out the wiring on that outlet and the circuit that the outlet is on.
If there is nothing wrong with the wiring, then it’s probably just the lamp or appliance that needs replacing. But it never hurts to check. On the other hand, if another light or appliance in another outlet is reacting to something in another outlet turning on, there is a definite wiring problem that should be looked into. Bad wiring not only can destroy otherwise perfectly good electrical devices, but can be a fire hazard, as well.
Keep in mind that even though some of these repairs might sound simple, you should always have a licensed electrician perform these fixes. Some electricians even own infrared inspection equipment that can help more quickly diagnose what the problem might be. Whatever you do, remember that electrical problems need to be resolved as soon as possible.