Power Up! An Electrical System Maintenance Checklist The Top 8 Warning Signs that Your Electrical System Needs a Professional

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Power outages, burned outlets, zapped electronic devices, and house fires; a faulty home electrical system can spark these problems at any time. In fact, according to the National Fire Protection Association[L1], electrical issues are one of the top five causes of structure fires.

It’s important to know the warning signs of impending electrical problems and do periodic checks of your system. Working with electricity can be very dangerous, even deadly, and it requires a good amount of knowledge, experience, and training. This is why your On Time Electrical professionals go through a rigorous screening and training process before they ever arrive at your home. We strongly recommend that you schedule a whole-home electrical inspection with one of our experts. However, there are some things you can look for that will help alert you to the need to call us.

Here’s your 8-Point Home Electrical Inspection Checklist

1. Visually inspect each outlet in your home: If an outlet looks charred or “blackened”, that means it is sparking and could be close to catching on fire. This is a serious warning sign and needs to be brought to the attention of On Time Electrical experts immediately. Look at other outlets to see how many rooms may be impacted by the damaged circuit.

2. Look for any exposed or frayed wiring: This can be anywhere around a plugged-in device. Scan each room of your home and see if any plugged-in device has compromised wiring at any point along the connection from device to outlet. Pay special attention to any wire that goes behind furniture as it could become pinched or crimped over time. Any outlet box with capped (or worse, frayed) wiring that doesn’t have a cover is especially hazardous and you should buy a cover as soon as possible.

3. Inspect with your “ears and nose”, too: Walk around your home and use your ears and nose to detect any electricity-related damage; hazards such as sparking wires, burnt outlets, and melted plastic all give off a notable odor. If you smell smoke or see a fire, call 911 immediately and evacuate everyone, and all pets, from the home.

4. Visually inspect the power lines around your house: If you see a hanging or downed power line on your property for any reason, do not attempt to touch or move it by yourself. Chances are, the line is still active and you can be electrocuted very easily. Call your local power company to report the downed power line and give them the information they need to send out a crew quickly.

5. Look and listen to your circuit breaker panel: Noise of any kind should be noted and investigated. If it’s humming, buzzing, or crackling that could mean the circuits inside are overloading. If circuits are being overloaded and not shutting off automatically, as they are designed to do, this could result in an electrical panel fire.

6. Take note of any recent power outages: Were they localized to your home? Meaning, did all of your neighbors still have power, but your home did not? When this happens, did you happen to notice if any circuit breakers in your electrical panel were flipped to the “off” position? If circuits are “tripping” more and more, there is a power surge in the system coming from somewhere and that needs to be investigated (much like hearing a crackling sound from the panel as mentioned in #4).

7. Check your GFCI outlets: Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are electrical devices installed on power outlets that protect appliances from power surges caused by water intrusion or another issue. They are often found in “wet” areas of a home such as kitchens, bathrooms, and laundry rooms.

They are simple to test:

    • First, find a small electrical device like a nightlight or even a hair dryer and plug it in.
    • Make sure the device works.
    • Push the red “test” button on the GFCI outlet.
    • The device should stop working.
      Push the black “reset” button to restore power to the outlet.

8. Test your fire and security alarms: Most systems come with a test button or procedure. You can look up your brand’s testing steps online or call the manufacturer for more guidance.

These are the basics of electrical system inspection. Your On Time Electrical professional can conduct a much more comprehensive assessment of your system and recommend the best course of action that will keep you and your family safe. Additionally, our technicians are highly-skilled and well-versed in your local electrical codes and they can tell whether or not your home’s electrical system is out of compliance, along with recommending the proper repair to get you back on track.

Finally, we feel there 5 key things you should require of your electrician:

  1. Fast response and excellent customer service: When you call them, you should expect to speak to a knowledgeable person who can listen to your concerns, give you accurate answers and get your work order submitted to a technician immediately.
  2. Upfront, honest pricing estimate: You should be able to get an educated estimate on what the job will cost, with the caveat that there can always be additional charges based on what the emergency electrician finds once he or she “gets their hands in it.” If you ever get the runaround on a commitment to hourly rate or an estimate, move on. Ask if there is a separate trip fee related to the call out, or if that’s all considered in the hourly rate. On Time Electrical will always give you a complete, accurate bottom line estimate before any work begins.
  3. Has a license, insurance, and experience: The best emergency electricians arrive in a truck stocked with the most common tools and parts needed in residential repair so the job is done right…and right now. There shouldn’t be lost time running to the nearest electrical supplier for parts. When you book the job, ask who is coming to do the work so you know who to expect. Many emergency electricians will send a text or email with the technician’s name and picture ahead of their arrival. Please ask us for our credentials any time, it’s important to us that you’re confident and comfortable with the technician who will be coming to your home.
  4. Offers a warranty on the work: Ask about a warranty on the work to be done. Most reliable, professional emergency electricians guarantee their work for at least one year.
  5. Strong, positive customer reviews. Any emergency electrical service worth your time will have customer reviews online that you can view. You should also check their Better Business Bureau rating and reputable customer review sites such as Angie’s List, Yelp, and Home Advisor, to name a few. (You can also use popular social media outlets such as Facebook and NextDoor to ask trusted friends and neighbors who they’ve used for emergency electrical work.) At On Time Electrical, we’re very proud of our A+ Better Business Bureau rating and the countless positive customer reviews we receive. We know trusted referrals are important in helping you choose the best emergency electrician for your next repair or project.

On Time Electrical customer service is available 24/7 at (704) 820-4803. You can also visit us online anytime at www.itselectriccharlotte.com. Check out our weekly and monthly specials, plus we waive the service call fee on ANY repair! Locally owned and operated, we’re On Time Electrical. It’s electric!

[L1]Link to the page by NFPA