Troubleshooting electrical issues involves a blend of technical know-how, good instincts and careful observation. Household and commercial electrical problems come with a myriad of symptoms and almost as many solutions.
Electricity flows in a closed circuit or route, starting at the “source” and ending or returning to the “ground” and problems can occur anywhere along the way.
Electrical issues can get compounded for good reason. The benefits of recent technology such as home automation are plainly clear. Still, using more electronic devices and plugging in almost anywhere can put a strain on the electrical systems of many older homes and some commercial buildings.
An electrical overload means there is more power being demanded from your electrical system than what it can handle. This results is an overload of a circuit. This can cause a breaker to shut off to prevent overheating and possibly a fire from starting. Overloads can also cause a short circuit, which is electricity that travels on an unintended pathway.
A short circuit can often occur when a device is plugged in. With a “short” the intended electrical pathway gets interrupted and diverted. A loose positive (black) wire will inadvertently contact a neutral (white) one. This sounds simple enough, but discovering the specific cause of a short can be hard to figure out. The unintended contact can result from frayed wiring, a loose wire, wiring that has been gnawed at by pesky rodents, water from storm damage … the list goes on.
What should you do when appliances, devices or lights stop working?
Check the circuit breaker for the particular room where things have stopped working.
It probably tripped, indicated by a red marker on the breaker switch. Now, reset the switch and check back at the scene of the problem. Did resetting the breakers solve the issue? Did the lights, devices, and appliances start working? If not, replace the breaker and then check each light, outlet and appliance.
If the problem persists, the issue may be the outlet or a faulty appliance.The next step is to test the outlet with a three-pronged receptacle tester for faulty wiring. You may also need to replace the outlet if damaged and retest the entire system.
If any of these fixes don’t resolve the issue call a licensed electrician. It could be an internal wiring problem.
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