Common Problems

In an attempt to assist you as a homeowner and to save you any unnecessary expenses, below please find some Common Electrical Problems. We have put together a list of the common problems, a few of their causes and some simple solutions.

Many times when we are called for repairs, it is as a result of a “handyman”, husband or male friend attempting to repair the problem but instead causing the power in half the house to stop working. The desire to save money is understandable, but safety should always be a priority. Many claim to do electrical work, but it doesn’t mean it is being done correctly or safely. Having a pair of work boots does not signify knowledge of electrical codes.

SHOCK Electric Company encourages you to use a knowledgeable and licensed electrical professional when servicing your home.

CP1:My receptacle or receptacles stopped working, no power in the receptacle, half the room is not working, different things aren’t working in the house or lights are flickering on and off or going from bright to dim.

Before going crazy, check the obvious. Make sure no circuit breakers are off or tripped and no fuses are blown. If your new to the house, be sure the receptacle is not controlled by a switch.

To reset a circuit breaker, first unplug the new item(s) that caused it to trip. Push the breaker all the way to the “off” position and then return it to the “on” position. If the circuit breaker trips again, you may want to call SHOCK Electric.

If this is not the problem, the next most likely reason is a loose neutral connection somewhere in the circuit. This can be much more difficult to find. It may require you to open each and every electrical box in the circuit. Sometimes the neutral may be loose in the panel on the neutral bar.

A loose connection in the wiring system is the most common reason for flickering lights. The loose connection could be located where the power company wires connect to the service wires of your home. This is not a problem to be tackled by yourself or the guy down the street with paint on his pants and a hammer on his belt. Call your power company’s emergency number and report the problem. Sometimes they will require you to call out an electrician first but call them first and let them tell you how to proceed. It could also be a loose connection inside your electric panel or your interior wiring. Loose electrical connections create heat which can potentially start a fire. Since it is a fire hazard, it is recommended you address this issue immediately.

CP2:The basement, bathroom, garage or outdoor outlets are not working.

GFCI or GFI outlets are normally found in the bathroom, basement, garage or other areas that are close to water. If the outlets are not working, a common problem is that the outlet may have “tripped”. Try to reset it.

To reset press the test button and then the reset button to see if that resolves the problem.

One common reason GFI’s trip is that water gets into the outdoor outlet or a cord plugged into them (unplug and let them dry out for a while). If you can not reset the GFCI it may be faulty and require replacement. Don’t be surprised if a “tripped” outlet in the bathroom or basement is the reason your garage and outdoor outlets are not working. GFCI’s need to tested monthly.

NOTE: Refrigerators and freezers should NOT be plugged into a GFCI circuit receptacle because they will damage GFCI’s over time causing it fail.

CP3:My kitchen breaker keeps turning off.

You may be overloading a breaker. If you have more than one appliance (ie coffee maker, toaster, espresso machine, etc.) in one outlet, plug them into different outlets that are on different circuits.

Many people think they can install a larger breaker, but installing an oversized breaker on your wiring can be a fire hazard. Electrical Codes limit the ampere (power) that a wire can safely conduct. Have SHOCK Electric install an additional circuit in your kitchen if required.

CP4:An outlet or switch is hot to the touch.

Switches or outlets that feel hot when you touch them need to be inspected and repaired. The outlet or switch may have a power overload, loose connection or weak contacts inside the device. If your power cord is loose or falls out of the outlet it needs to be replaced. Loose or bad connections on the outlet can cause power outages and they are fire hazards.

NOTE: Dimmer switches produce some heat in their normal operation, but it should not be excessive.

CP5:My recessed can lights are blinking on and off.

Many of the recess can light used today are IC rated ( In Contact with insulation) with a built in heat sensor that limits it to 75 watts maximum lamp size to prevent a fire. Check the recess fixture rating. To check the fixture bulb and watt rating, turn off the power, remove the light bulb and trim ring and look up inside the fixture. Follow the manufactures recommendations for type and size of the lamp.

CP6:I want to hang a ceiling fan from a ceiling box that is not specific to ceiling fans.

No. For safety reasons, there is a code that requires all ceiling boxes be rated for ceiling fans.

CP7:I don’t know what size electrical service I need.

The electrical code has a specific method for calculating the size of an electrical service. For most homes under 1500 square feet a 100 A service should be fine unless you have items like a hot tub.

If you live in a larger home, you should consider a larger service such as a 200A service. To be certain that your present and future electrical needs are satisfied, SHOCK Electric would be happy to visit your home free of charge to give you a proposal for a new service.

We specialize in service upgrades!

CP8:I’m not sure when I need an electrical permit.

The rule of thumb is that whenever you are adding or replacing something a permit is required. If you are only doing repairs, a permit is typically not required.

If required, it is recommended to apply for a permit. In this way, the work is inspected by the municipality you live in by to ensure the work was done properly keeping your home safe. It also eliminates the fines that can be imposed if an inspector finds out work was done without a permit. Speak to your insurance agent about discounted house insurance premiums with regards to upgraded work.

SHOCK Electric Company provides quality residential and commercial electrical services in a timely and cost-efficient manner by our knowledgeable and seasoned team with the belief that every project builds a long-term relationship with new and existing customers.