What are Common Electrical Problems in Houses?

A home inspection was just performed on your house and a list of electrical problems was created.  Or maybe you are tired of the electrical system in your house acting crazy – lights blinking, fan wobbling, outlets not working or tripping, electrical power going out………… the list goes on and on.  

Here is a list of common electrical problems often found in houses.  But first, SAFETY.  Do not attempt to repair electrical problems unless you are qualified to do so.  Consult with a licensed electrician for any repairs, and it is a good idea to verify they are bonded and insured before any work is performed.

Common Electrical Problems

  • Ungrounded receptacles (outlets) – the ground wire in the receptacle or somewhere in the circuit is loose or not connected
  • Wobbling fan – the fan is out of balance likely caused by a loose blade, extra weight on one of the blades, or defects in the bearings inside the fan motor
  • Reverse polarity in receptacles – the hot (black) and neutral (white) wires in the receptacle or somewhere in the circuit are reversed at the connection to a receptacle
  • Defective GFCI receptacle function – often caused by a defect in the test/reset button locking mechanism in the GFCI receptacle 
  • Double lug or double tap breaker in the panel box – the incorrect installation of a new circuit in the panel box often the result of inadequate space in the panel box.  This condition can cause overload of the breaker and cause the breaker to trip and kill the circuit 
  • Breaker trips often – the circuit is over-loaded often caused by high demand of energy (Think too many lights, computers, televisions, microwave, toaster, etc.….), or the breaker is defective
  • Lighting flickers or blinks – florescent light ballast is defective, or the light bulb is at the end of its useful life, incandescent lights have fluctuation in electrical current to the light or the electrical connections (wiring) are poorly installed.
  • Broken light switches or receptacles – these electrical features can go bad over time due to usage and fatigue and/or excessive heat.
  • 3-way light switch malfunctions – this condition is often the result of improper wiring of the light circuit where the common wire to the switches is missing or improperly connected

This list is not exhaustive and the conditions of the electrical system in your house can affect the function of the common problems listed.  In any event, consultation with a qualified, licensed electrician who specializes in trouble-shooting electrical problems is recommended for repair of these conditions.

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