It is easy to forget about your electrical system, casually turning electrical appliances on and off every day. Some simple annual maintenance can help prevent catastrophic problems down the road. But what should that maintenance include to ensure your system is as safe as possible?
Why Electrical Maintenance Is Important
Most of your electrical system is hidden, with the face of outlets and light switches being all that some people see. However, what happens behind the plates and panels is what leads to major problems.
Dust, moisture, and age are all problems with an electrical system. Dust near your connections can risk igniting a fire. Moisture can cause corrosion on your electrical connections, increasing resistance as electricity flows through the circuit.
Increased resistance increases heat and can ignite dust. It is this increased resistance that leads to most electrical house fires. Taking a few minutes to inspect and maintain your electrical system will improve your electrical performance and protect your home.
Inspect Your Breaker Panel
One of the best places to start is your breaker panel. However, you want to go beyond the face of the panel to see if any breakers are tripped.
Rather, you want to pull the face cover off and look at the condition of both the individual breakers and wiring. You also want to clean out any dust or dirt that may have collected inside the panel.
If there is extra resistance in your system somewhere, you may see evidence in the panel. This may be melted wiring, burn marks where wires join the panel, and even burn marks on the breakers themselves.
Test Your GFCI Outlets
Your home should have special outlets near any water utilities. These are called GFCI outlets, which stands for ground fault circuit interrupter outlets. When these detect a ground fault, it breaks the flow of electricity to the outlet, like a mini circuit breaker.
You want to ensure that these outlets are working properly as they help prevent electrical shocks. Testing these outlets is fairly simple, thanks to a test button right on the outlet.
To perform the test, you simply press the “Test” button and listen for a snap or click. Then plug something in and make sure it does not turn one. Once you do this, hit the reset button, and it should work again.
Inspect and Test Surge Protective Equipment
You want to inspect all of your surge protective equipment every year. If you have a whole house surge protector, you should leave this up to a professional electrician during a maintenance visit.
For the small surge protectors you may have around your home, you can easily do a quick inspection. Visually inspect the device and look for any signs of cracks, burns, or fraying of the cable. If you notice any of these, consider replacing that particular protector.
Inspect Wire Junctions and Connections
All of your major junctions and connections should be inspected annually. This includes where your electrical service comes into your home and where any major appliance ties into your system.
At all of these connection points, you are looking for fraying of the wire, melted insulation, and scorch marks. All of these indicate a problem with either arcing, a short, or increased resistance.
Inspect and Test Outdoor Wiring, Outlets, and Lighting
Be sure you inspect and test all of your outdoor wiring, lighting, and outlets. Any outdoor wiring is prone to damage and can create dangerous shorts. These wires should be replaced if they have any damage.
Your outlets will quickly tell you of any problems in the system. Simple volts and amp tests tell you if the system is passing current properly. If not, you have a starting point to trace back and find the culprit.
If your outdoor outlets are possibly exposed to water or excessive moisture, they should have GFCI outlets. Be sure to test these outlets just like you would inside.
While lights may not seem like an electrical issue, you want to check that each one is working properly. Not only does this add to the safety and security of your home, but it may also indicate another problem. If you replace the bulb, and it does not come back on, you know there is another problem in the circuit to troubleshoot.
Your wiring ignored can become exceptionally dangerous for your home and family. [company_name] has provided electrical maintenance for people around Meridian for over 60 years. Residents also seek our team for heating and air conditioning installation, repair, and maintenance. Call to schedule an electrical maintenance visit with one of our licensed electricians today.