10 Essential Electrical Maintenance Tips for Homeowners
Electrical safety is an important aspect of home care, as it can save you money, avoid larger issues and give you peace of mind.
There are a few key electrical maintenance tips that every homeowner should know and follow. By incorporating these into your daily, monthly and annual routine, you can help prevent electrical problems from occurring.
1. Unplug Unused Appliances
The average home contains an array of tucked-away appliances, many of them plugged in and constantly using power. This glut of stand-by devices can drive up energy costs and present a fire risk.
However, unplugging unused appliances not only saves energy but also protects against surge damage. Even without a whole-home surge protector system, many of your plug-in devices are susceptible to small power surges that can gradually wear them out over time.
Start by looking around your house and noticing which devices you leave plugged in when they aren’t actually in use. You can also purchase a handheld electricity monitor that lets you plug in each device and get an idea of how much power it’s drawing.
2. Check Outlets
Performing routine outlet checks on a regular basis is one of the best ways to keep your home safe from electrical hazards. This helps to prevent fires and other accidents, and catches problems early before they can cause a serious or even fatal problem.
Using an inexpensive outlet tester, check each outlet in your house for safety. This can be done on a monthly basis, and is a great way to catch small issues before they grow into bigger ones.
Also, check outlets that are in basements and hidden in attics. These are often overlooked when it comes to outlet maintenance, but they can pose a serious danger to your family.
3. Check for Loose Wires
When you’re looking at electrical outlets and light fixtures, it’s important to look for loose wire connections. These can cause overheating and arcing, which can lead to house fires.
Loose connections can be caused by many different factors, including aging or poor installation. However, a common problem is simply that the wire connections have loosened over time.
This can be fixed by removing the cover plate and checking the screw terminals where the wires are connected. If the connections are loose, reconnect them using a wire connector (wire nut).
4. Check for Short Circuits
One of the easiest ways to check for short circuits is to use a multimeter. If you suspect a short, move the probes of your multimeter to different nearby ground connections and check for resistance.
If the resistance increases, it indicates that the shorted conductor is close to a nearby ground connection. This will narrow down the location of the short so that you can fix it.
Short circuits can cause a variety of issues for your home. They can damage your appliances and other devices, and they can cause a serious fire if left unchecked.
5. Test for Surges
Whether it’s laptops, chargers, air conditioners or any other type of electrical device, it’s important to keep them safe. A power surge can cause a huge spike in the current, which can lead to damage or even total ruin of these devices.
Surges happen when a spike of voltage occurs on the electrical system, and they can be caused by a variety of factors. One of the most common causes is faulty wiring in the home, especially if you have an older house.
Surge testing is an excellent tool for predictive maintenance professionals as it can identify cases of weak winding insulation before a motor goes out. This allows for preventative maintenance plans to be put in place before a breakdown happens, saving you money.
6. Check for Overheating
Overheating is a common issue for electrical outlets and can be caused by a variety of factors. Some of these include damage, corrosion and overloading.
In general, it is a good idea to check for overheating regularly. It is important to do so because overheating can cause problems for your electrical components, such as fires and explosions.
Often, overheating occurs due to loose connections. A contact and a wire need to be tightly connected to ensure that the current can flow through them properly.
7. Install Outlet Covers
Adding outlet covers can prevent accidental contact and reduce the risk of fire. They also make your outlets appear more aesthetically appealing, as well as protect them from water damage.
Outlet covers come in different styles and materials. They range from box-shaped covers that go over the plugs to retractable covers that snap in place when something is plugged in.
If you have young children, you may want to install child-resistant outlet covers. These are a great option to keep your toddlers from accessing dangerous switches or outlets, and they can save you money on energy costs.
8. Check for Damaged Wires
Damaged wires can cause electrical shock or a fire, so it is important to have them checked by a professional electrician. They will be able to identify any issues that you may not notice and repair them on the spot, making sure your home is safe for everyone to live in.
A good way to check for damaged wires is by inspecting any outlets or switches in your house. If you notice frayed or tattered wires, they should be replaced immediately.
In addition, it is a good idea to have any outlet covers or switch plates in your house checked for looseness. This can be a sign of rodents chewing through the wires and causing damage.
9. Check for Water Damage
Water damage, whether it’s from a leak or flood, is not only unpleasant but can cause long-term problems. It can rot wood, destroy electrical systems, corrode plumbing, and even weaken foundations.
In addition, it’s also a breeding ground for mold and mildew. These can ruin your possessions, furniture, and other materials.
Moreover, if water seeps into electrical wires, it can cause damage to the insulation. This could lead to power surges and arcing between the wires, which can be dangerous.
10. Check for Loose Connections
Loose connections are a big cause of electrical fires. This is why it is essential to check for them from time to time.
A good place to start is by checking the screw terminals of switches and light fixtures. Make sure that the wires are properly connected to these screw terminals, and that there is no exposed bare copper wire showing at the bottom of the screw terminal.
You can also check for loose connections by disconnecting a device, like a light or outlet, and using a wooden stick to gently wiggle it to see if it flickers. If it does, this is a good sign that there is a connection problem and should be fixed.