There’s nothing like a problem with your power to leave you feeling quite powerless. While many home electrical problems can be remedied with a few tools and a working knowledge of circuitry, you may find that hiring professionals – and paying their charge – is the best way to avoid getting a more shocking one.
Electrical problems fall in four main categories. By understanding what may be causing your problem will help you decide if it’s within your ability (and comfort level) to fix it yourself.
- Power Surges and Spikes – A surge is a long electrical burst caused by additional voltage, while spikes are short bursts caused by too much voltage – Both happen because of accidents or storms and can cause damage to appliances and electrical devices. The best way to avoid these problems is to use a surge protector for computers, TVs, VCRs, stereos, electronic gaming systems, microwave ovens and answering machines.
- Power Outages, Dips and Sags – Outages are caused by accidents or weather causing the power supply from the electric company to be cut off. These problems must be remedied by your power company. Dips and sags are periods of low voltage caused by electrical devices drawing power when they are turned on. These can also cause data loss or physical damage to your home computer or other appliances and devices. You can protect your equipment with an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).
- Intermittent Power – If your lights flicker or other devices randomly lose power, you have a loose wiring problem. To check for this, follow the electrical cable from the unit to the plug. It may be necessary to repair or replace the power cord.
- Overloaded Circuits – This is what happens when you have too many electrical devices drawing power from the same electrical outlet. Because the demand exceeds the capacity, the fuse will short. If there is a recurrent need to reset the fuse for a particular circuit, it’s time to contact an electrician to help balance the circuit load.
Electrical problems can damage your equipment, cause inconvenience and create safety risks. If you’re not comfortable doing more than calling the power company to report an outage, or resetting the fuse box when you’ve overloaded a circuit, establish a reliable, secure connection with a reputable electrician.