Bathroom Electrical Wiring – Issues and Safety Precautions
Bathroom Electrical Wiring: Issues and Safety Precautions
According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, tens of thousands of fires happen all over the United States every year that are caused by electrical issues. Besides the millions of property damage that are incurred, there is also the unfortunate loss of life that happens in hundreds of these kinds of cases. There are also hundreds of consumer products that can cause electrocution and death (especially with bathroom electrical wiring), so it is best that the appropriate safety precautions are done in order to prevent any sort of unfortunate incident to happen.
A Volatile and Dangerous Mix
It is a well known fact that water and electricity just do not mix. It is a very deadly combination. So you can just imagine the kinds of dangers you have with bathroom electrical wiring systems. Of course, no one can eliminate entirely the need for bathroom electrical wiring systems – with outlets for dryers, heaters, lights, and all other electrical appliances you use in the bathroom, all you can really do is to observe the proper safety precautions and steps to make sure that the electrical system in your bathroom is safe for you and all who use the bathroom.
Some Safety Tips
Use moisture-splash proof switches.
Moisture-splash proof switches are designed to prevent water from entering the switch and coming into contact with the wires inside.
Ensure all receptacles are GFCI-protected.
GFCI outlets help reduce the risk of shock hazards in damp areas and have already saved thousands of lives. The National Electric Code currently mandates the installation of GFCI outlets in the bathrooms, crawl spaces, and kitchens among other areas in the house for protection.
Position the Receptacles Properly
You shouldn’t just position the electrical outlets anywhere you please. Some of the guidelines to follow include installing a receptacle:
Within three feet of the outside of each basin (bath, lavatory, sink or any bowl of water)
On a wall or partition adjacent to the applicable basin
Behind or beside, but neither across or over a sink
Each of these guidelines serves specific purposes. For example, installing a receptacle over a sink can easily lead to the code hanging into the sink and causing electrocution.
Distribute the Circuits Properly
Lastly, you should distribute the different circuits in your bathroom and keep them isolated. For example, the light circuits should be different from the fan circuits. The objective here is to ensure that a fault in one circuit does not interfere with the operation of another circuit. That way, your light stays on even if the fan is not working, and you get enough light to rectify the fault. All these are measures to keep bathroom users safe. If you can’t handle them all, then you are not cut out for bathroom electrical wiring. In that case, you should let a professional home electrician contractor handle the work.
Install Exhaust Fans
It is not just the bath water that you should worry about; bathrooms tend to accumulate high levels of humidity and moisture. These too can cause problems with your electrical wiring. The countermeasure here is to install exhaust ceiling fans and prevent accumulation of steam or moisture.
Bathroom Electrical Safety is Paramount
Water is essential to human health and hygiene. Unfortunately, it’s also a great conductor of electricity. That means that you could receive a severe shock when you are standing in water, and even wet skin allows electricity an easier path to pass into your body. Electrical shocks can cause burns, heart arrhythmia, nervous system damage and death, and bad wiring or improper grounding can also start a fire. That’s why safety in your bathroom electrical work should be one of your primary concerns. Follow these tips to avoid an emergency:
Make sure your electrical sockets are located a safe distance away from the shower. Cover the outlets when they aren’t in use.
All the outlets in the bathroom should be equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters, which can sense when an electric current is improperly grounding and automatically shut down the power, potentially saving a person holding a hair dryer in the shower from a nasty shock.
On that note, never use electrical devices in the bathroom when you are standing in or otherwise in contact with standing water. This should be common sense, but sometimes people forget or get careless.
Any exposed or frayed wiring in the bathroom should be addressed and repaired immediately.
If you use an electric heater in your bathroom, it should be hardwired into a circuit, and preferably installed into the wall or ceiling.
The less wiring you have in your bathroom, the better, so recessed or enclosed lights are better than light bulbs or fixtures that hang freely from the walls or ceilings.
Pull strings for your lights are safer than switches because they prevent wet hands from getting anywhere near the circuit.
Electrical work must be performed by a licensed professional so you have assurances that the job is done well, and recourse if it isn’t.
If you are considering attempting your own electrical work on your next project, I implore you to apply for electrical permits from your local government.
Applying to do my own work was a simple process. In this case, all I did was fill out a couple of simple forms where I stated my name, address, the scope of the work being performed (adding 4 recessed lights) and the estimated cost of the work related to the permit. After about two weeks, the township called me and let me know my permit was approved and ready for pickup. I paid a $61 fee to the township and got started on the rough-in work. Once I complete the rough-in work, I schedule the inspector and he pays me a visit.
The most anxiety inducing part of this process is the rough-in inspection, but if you follow these general guidelines, you’ll be much more likely to pass the first time.
Ask the Inspector First. When you schedule the inspector, try to actually have a conversation with him or her about what they expect to see and what pitfalls you can avoid. All inspectors should be looking for the same checks, but some have additional requirements or pet-peeves that can fail you. Checking with them first is a great way to establish a name to a face and get a sense of their general requirements.
Don’t Add Any Devices. During the rough-in inspection, there can’t be any devices on the circuits you are adding. No outlets, no lights, no switches, nada, nunca. If you are adding an outlet to an existing circuit, then the NEW outlet should also not be installed either. The rest of the outlets on that circuit that were originally there are probably fine, but if you disturbed the wiring in any outlet, it shouldn’t have a device for the inspection.
Tie Your Grounds Together. In each outlet or electrical box location, the ground wires should be tied together. This is something my inspector noted today. Don’t tie anything else together though. The hot and neutral leads should remain separate.
Fire Block. Any holes or penetrations from one floor to the next or from one wiring passage to the next needs to be blocked so as to prevent a fire using the hole as a breathing hole or chimney. Typically, you can use fire block expanding foam (which is bright orange in color) or regular fiberglass insulation to fill or plug these kind of holes.
Plug Holes in Boxes. This one was new to me and I’ll have to fix it. The electrical box I used have these bendable tabs where the cable enters. Well one of these tabs snapped off. The inspector told me I need to plug it. I’ll probably use insulation and jam it in the hole here.
Use Correct Breaker. Another correction I’ll have to make is the circuit breaker I installed. The breaker in this application needs to be an 15 amp Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter (AFCI) and I had installed a regular 15 amp breaker. The AFCI’s prevent arcs and are required on all circuits that feed living spaces (I think). You can buy AFCI’s in any hardware store and they are several times more expensive than regular breakers.
Don’t Power the Circuit. Although the wires for the new circuit can be tied into the new breaker, the breaker needs to remain off or unpowered. It shouldn’t be powered up until all the devices are installed.
Cover the Wires with Wire Nuts. All the wire ends need to have wire nuts on them even if they don’t have any exposed conductor. Same goes for the ground wires.
Secure Cables with Staples. Cable runs need to be secured to framing every so many feet with cable staples.
Checking the Wiring and Connections
Whereas it is impractical to rewire an entire house, an electrician can replace outlets and wall switches with newer, safer models that will work better with aluminum wiring.
Once you have determined what type of wire is used, check the wires coming into the circuits. Each circuit should have only one wire connected to it. If any circuits have more than one wire connected to them, it could cause the breaker to overheat and should be noted.
Also, check the wires connected to the busboard. Multiple grounding wires can be under each bonding screw, but you cannot have more than one neutral wire under a bonding screw. If you find multiple neutral wires under a bonding screw, you must note this because it is unsafe.
What does a home electrical system inspection involve?
Inspection Certification Associates (ICA) of Chicago, Illinois, which provides national online training and certification of home inspectors, says electrical inspectors must examine several segments of your home’s electrical system, including:
Service panels and subpanels (what some people may call a circuit breaker or fuse box):
They’ll typically remove the cover, noting that nothing inside the panel is humming or hot—and that there are no fuses instead of circuit breakers. They’ll also check for loose wires, that wires are the right gauge for the breakers, and that the main breaker is the right size. (Smaller than 100 amps is not enough for the electrical needs of a modern family, ICA says.)
Outlets (or receptacles): They’ll use a handheld device, a multimeter, to probe the outlet and check the voltage and ground wire.
Light switches and fixtures: They’ll take a representative number of installed lighting fixtures, receptacles, and switches.
GFCI circuits and arc-fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs): The absence of GFCIs, AFCIs (which interrupt the circuit when it detects an electric arc), or other “overcurrent protection devices.”
The type of wiring: such as aluminum, knob-and-tube, or copper, and whether any of it is exposed or loose.
An electrical pre-inspection can be done by the homeowner on switches, receptacles, and GFCI’s. A homeowner should not inspect the electrical panel, leave that to a certified home inspector.
Receptacles can be tested with a receptacle tester that has a GFCI test button. This tester shows if the receptacle has power and if it is wired correctly. If plugs fits loosely in a receptacle, it should be replaced.
Homeowners usually knows if the switches are working, any switches that are normally not used should be tested.
Test all GFCI receptacles by pushing the button on the tester to see if power shuts off (an audible click can be heard). Press the reset button to restore power. If the test or reset button does not work, and there is power at the GFCI, the GFCI has failed and needs to be replaced.
While testing GFCIs, see if you lose power to other GFCIs. If another GFCI loses power, it should be replaced with a standard receptacle. See GFCI Connected to the Load of Another GFCI.
In kitchens, bathrooms, outdoors, etc, test all standard receptacles with a receptacle tester to determine if they are GFCI protected. Insert the tester into the receptacle and verify it has power, then press the GFCI test button on the tester. If power shuts off, the standard receptacle is GFCI protected. If the power does not shut off, it should be replaced with a GFCI receptacle.
Test all other standard receptacles with the tester to see if they are wired correctly.
Two Rounds of Electrical Inspection
The most comprehensive inspections occur when electrical work requiring building permits is being done, such as during construction of a new home or major room addition. Major remodeling work to a kitchen or bathroom also requires permits and electrical inspections. The goal of the inspections process is to make sure that the applicable electrical codes are being followed, to ensure that the installation is safe. In these instances, an electrical inspector will need to visit you on at least two occasions.
The first is called the rough-in inspection. This takes place when you have installed all of the electrical boxes, cables, conduit, and wires to the point that you are ready for the walls to be closed up by surfaces. This inspection needs to be done before the insulation is installed, so that the inspector has a clear view of all of the wire runs from service panel to fixtures and appliances.
The second inspection takes place when the house is complete, but before you are allowed to begin using the space. This inspection is called the final inspection. At this point, all of the walls are closed in, painting is finished, floors are complete and you are ready to install the furniture. Be sure that all of the circuits are functioning and every light fixture has been hung and is connected. If the inspector approves your work now, it means that it meets professional standards and that it is up to code.
The light bulb market has gone through enormous change since traditional incandescent bulbs were removed from the market and replaced with energy-saving bulbs. Below, we walk you through what you need to know to buy the best bulb for your needs
Choose a light bulb with the right fitting
Many a shopping trip has been thwarted by the lack of this critical piece of information. There are an awful lot of fittings to choose from so, if you can, take the old bulb you are replacing to the store with you. But if you can’t do that, then use the graphic above, which shows some of the most common fittings. You will need to write down the fitting reference number and take it along to match with the packaging on the box of your new bulb.
Don’t be put off by the upfront cost of LED lights
They could save you hundreds in the long run. There are three main types of regular light bulb – CFLs (compact fluorescent lamp – the standard type of energy-saving light bulb), halogens or LEDs.
CFL annual running
CFLs are cheap and widely available in a range of sizes and outputs. Some older CFLs were slow to brighten, but this has improved considerably in recent years. They are four times more efficient than incandescent bulbs and quickly pay for themselves in energy savings – but not everyone likes the light they emit.
Halogen annual running
Light from a halogen bulb is similar to an incandescent in colour and quality, as both use a tungsten filament. There’s little difference between the two in the amount of energy used and halogens are significantly more expensive to run than other energy savers. With an expected life span of less than two years, a halogen bulb is unlikely to pay for itself before it fails.
Guide to Buying LED Lighting
LED lighting. You know what it is. And you know that it’s the way of the future—if not the present—when it comes to illuminating everything from our homes to public spaces to indicator lights on our electronics. But with the technology advancing more and more each year, LED lighting has allowed for more flexibility in design, greater efficiency in use and a host of other benefits that affect our daily living
Compared to conventional incandescent lamps, LED lighting lasts longer, is more durable, and is over five times more efficient. LED bulbs typically use only 2 to 10 watts of electricity
LED lighting is measured in lumens, not watts
LED lighting fixtures have a higher upfront cost, but will have a greater lifespan in the long run
The compact size of LEDs make them an ultra-flexible design element, which has allowed designers and manufactures to create shapes, silhouettes and technologies that simply weren’t possible before.
LEDs are dramatically more cost-efficient over the long run.
For instance, a single 10-watt LED that puts out 800 lumens of light (lumens are units of brightness for a light source — more on that in just a bit) will add about $1.20 per year to your power bill if used for 3 hours a day at an average energy rate of 11 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh). Under those same parameters, a traditional 60-watt incandescent bulb that puts out the same 800 lumens will cost about $7.20 per year. That’s more than the cost of replacing it with a basic LED like the one described above. Multiply that by the total number of bulbs in your home, and you’re looking at the potential for some pretty significant long-term savings, especially if you live in area with above-average energy rates
LEDs are also rated to last for tens of thousands of hours, which can translate to decades of use. Compare that with the year or so you typically get out of an incandescent, and you can begin to see why so many people find these bulbs appealing. With some options now as cheap as $3 per bulb, that 10W LED would pay for itself in energy savings within a few months, then keep on saving you money for years if not decades to come
First, it’s important to understand that LED lights typically don’t “burn out,” the way that incandescents do. Instead, they undergo “lumen depreciation,” which just means that they gradually grow dimmer and dimmer over a very long period of time. The test that the IES uses to determine a bulb’s longevity is known as the LM80, and it calculates how long it will take for an LED to fade enough for you to notice it
In the LM80 test, engineers run the bulb for 9 months straight in order to get an accurate read of the light’s rate of decay. Using those figures, they can calculate the point at which the light will have faded to 70 percent of its original brightness — the point where you’ll start to notice that things aren’t quite as bright as they used to be. This point, known as “L70,” is the current standard in LED longevity. If an LED says it’ll last 25,000 hours, it’s really saying that it will take the bulb 25,000 hours to fade down to 70 percent brightness
This isn’t to say that LEDs don’t fail. They definitely do. As with any device relying on tiny, delicate electrical components, things can go wrong. Fortunately, more and more LED bulbs come with multiyear warranties for cases of mechanical failure. Some manufacturers, like GE and Cree, offer affordable LED bulbs with 10-year warranties. Consumers with a healthy dose of skepticism regarding LED longevity claims should look for bulbs like these, made by manufacturers willing to put their money where their mouth is
FACT SHEET: A CONSUMER’S GUIDE TO BUYING QUALITY LEDS
Light-emitting diode light bulbs and lighting fixtures are known as LEDs. LEDs can have varied designs with a range of looks for many different uses. From the outside, many look like old-fashioned light bulbs and are available to replace a wide range of inefficient halogen and incandescent lighting.
Quality LEDs are now in most cases the ‘best buy’ in terms of electricity costs to run, frequency of replacement and overall lifetime costs. LEDs are quickly gaining popularity as they become more available at lower prices, however, evaluation of LED products currently available in the marketplace indicates a wide variation in quality and efficiency. This guide provides some practical tips to purchasing a quality LED product.
Not all LEDs are the same
Unlike Compact Fluorescent Lamps (CFLs), LEDs are currently not regulated for energy efficiency – or characteristics such as colour. This means you may experience greater variation in their performance
Quality LEDs – cheaper in the long run
Quality LED light bulbs last 5 to 10 times longer than halogen light bulbs and consume a quarter of the energy to produce the same light output
Figure 1 A 10W LED bulb would cost $39 in total to buy and run over 10 years. Over this time, five 42W halogen bulbs would need to be used at a total cost of $148, or two 12W CFL bulbs would be used, at a total cost of $48. These figures are based on lifetimes of 6000 hours for CFL and 2000 hours for halogen; an LED price of $10, CFL price of $6, and halogen price of $3. The electricity rate is 28.55¢ per kilowatt-hour (kWh
things to consider when buying LED
As your incandescent fittings or light globes burn out, it’s a good time to consider switching to LED fixtures. LEDs have an impressive lifespan (20-something years!) and are very cost-effective in the long term. Now’s the right time to switch to LEDs. These bulbs have made significant advances over the last few years, finally delivering the warm light incandescent have comforted us with for decades. Because there are so many LED varieties, choosing an LED is entirely different from picking up an incandescent. Before you head to the store, find out what you need to know about choosing the right LED light or fitting to suit you requirements and the benefits it will provide
Lumens, not watts
When shopping for bulbs and lights, you’re probably accustomed to looking for watts, an indication of how bright the bulb will be. The brightness of LEDs, however, is determined a little differently.
Contrary to common belief, wattage isn’t an indication of brightness, but a measurement of how much energy the bulb draws. For incandescents, there is an accepted correlation between the watts drawn and the brightness, but for LEDs, watts aren’t a great predictor of how bright the bulb will be. (The point, after all, is that they draw less energy.)
But don’t bother doing the math — there isn’t a uniform way to covert incandescent watts to LED watts. Instead, a different form of measurement should be used: lumens.
The lumen (lm) is the real measurement of brightness provided by a light bulb, and is the number you should look for when shopping for LEDs. For reference, here’s a chart that shows the watt-lumen conversion for incandescents, halogen, fluorescent and LEDs
With simple maintenance and prevention methods, you can feel better about the safety and efficiency of your home’s electrical system. This includes making sure your appliances are running smoothly and all of your outlets are safe to use for everyday needs, such as charging devices and plugging in lamps.
Just one mishap could spark an electrical fire, so be sure to keep these steps in mind for proper electrical maintenance:
Remember the golden rule: Safety first
You should never start any home maintenance or repair work without proper preparation and safety tools. When working with electrical items, make sure to unplug the unit or turn off the power to the specific circuit. Don’t forget that water and electricity don’t get along, so make sure to unplug anything electric before cleaning. Never use a metal ladder when performing electrical tasks.
Use electronics accordingly
It’s important to be smart about how you’re using electronics. Avoid plugging in too many things into one circuit, which can overload it and cause a power outage. Be mindful of where you place small appliances and electronics, such as toaster ovens and hair dryers. Make sure they’re not under any vents that could potentially drip on them or are too close to a source of water, such as sinks and showers. Further, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommends installing ground-fault circuit interrupters for all of the outlets in wet locations, such as kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms. They’re designed to turn off electric power immediately in the event of an incident, which can be a potentially life-saving feature.
Be mindful of plugs, outlets and wires
Treat your plugs kindly and don’t force them to fit into outlets. Don’t try to bend and adjust the prongs, as this could cause an electric shock. Alternatively, if it’s loose inside the outlet, it may be time to replace the cord for a fresh plug. Replace old outlets with new electric sockets with advanced safety features, such as built-in surge protectors. Unplug extension cords when you’re not using them to avoid an electric and fire hazard. When you’re outside, only use cords and electrical items that are specifically for the outdoors.
Schedule routine professional check ups
Electricity can be dangerous, so never hesitate to call a licensed electrician for help. In fact, one of the most important steps in good electrical maintenance is having a professional inspect your system at least once a year. An electrician can check your electric panel, replace damaged wires and test circuit breakers.
Simple steps to resolution
Stepping through further checks, the technician can review the breaker’s programming, such as LSI overcurrent settings, using easy to navigate graphical screens. There may also be a ‘state of health’ view that can quickly reveal any service warnings. This might indicate that a backup battery that needs replacing, or the amount of breaker service life left.
If a bar code is provided on the front of the breaker, scanning it with the smart phone will connect to the device’s online maintenance history. Not only will this confirm that the correct equipment needing servicing has been identified, it will also reveal any previously logged data or service notes to help determine the appropriate next steps.Simple steps to resolution
Stepping through further checks, the technician can review the breaker’s programming, such as LSI overcurrent settings, using easy to navigate graphical screens. There may also be a ‘state of health’ view that can quickly reveal any service warnings. This might indicate that a backup battery that needs replacing, or the amount of breaker service life left.
If a bar code is provided on the front of the breaker, scanning it with the smart phone will connect to the device’s online maintenance history. Not only will this confirm that the correct equipment needing servicing has been identified, it will also reveal any previously logged data or service notes to help determine the appropriate next steps.
How to Improve Your Electrical Maintenance Strategy
When it comes to maintenance strategies, mechanical assets tend to receive more care than electrical control and distribution systems. Electrical systems can run for years without problems, making it tempting to focus on systems where wear and tear produce more frequent, and more noticeable, issues. Mechanical maintenance staff usually outnumber electrical system staff, whose electrical maintenance training is seen as less mission critical than staying up-to-date on advances in equipment technology.
Reactive Electrical Maintenance
Like mechanical equipment, electrical systems benefit from preventative maintenance. Reactive responses to electrical problems results in longer down times, expensive repairs, and loss of productivity.
Signs of a reactive electrical maintenance strategy include:
Electrical failures not recorded in CMMS
Electrical maintenance supplies no readily available
Electricians on staff not up-to-date on electrical maintenance training
Few to no electrical planners on staff
Little to no documentation of electrical maintenance tasks
No standards for electrical schematics
Technical information on electric systems not centrally located.
Towards a Proactive Electrical Maintenance Strategy
In contrast, a preventative electrical maintenance strategy protects both employees and electrical assets. Careful planning maximizes uptime, while improving energy efficiency and extending the service life of electrical distribution systems. Steps towards preventative electrical system maintenance include:
Acknowledging the current system is flawed, but can be improved.
Developing a vision for the future, including new hires, maintenance strategies, and electrical maintenance training.
Understanding which equipment is mission critical, and creating regular maintenance schedules.
Discussing the need for improvements with work team, who may raise issues or solutions that would otherwise go unnoticed.
Documenting all processes and gathering data on which components could fail and what the effects of such failure could be.
Report your findings to management and fight to get the management team on board with your efforts.
Developing preventative maintenance inspection and tasks for all system components.
Gathering all strategy documents, schematics, and manuals in a central location.
Electrical Preventive Maintenance
Too many people mistakenly think a lack of moving parts means little can go wrong with electrical systems. In fact, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) reports that the failure rate of electrical components is three times higher for systems without preventive maintenance programs.
The two top causes of electrical distribution failures — loose connections and parts and exposure to moisture — account for nearly half of all electrical losses. And both problems can be corrected with a comprehensive electrical preventive maintenance (EPM) program. Consider these five factors when planning a program for your organization:
The people who perform your EPM program must be properly trained for the specific equipment being maintained or tested. They should have a thorough understanding of electrical safety practices and procedures.
Inspection, testing and servicing of equipment should be done on a regular basis — at least once every three years and more often for critical components.
You want to make informed, responsible decisions about how best to correct any problem conditions. That can only be accomplished if personnel reviewing test reports have a thorough understanding of the specific subject matter.
Performing the Work
There is little point in testing and inspections if you don’t intend to fix the problem. Ultimately, a scheduled outage is necessary to perform the work.
A clear, concise and complete record-keeping system will help make sure that all work is done when it should be. Tracking test results over time also can often identify a potential failure that can be corrected before it happens.
Electrical preventive maintenance is cost-effective in many ways, improves equipment efficiency and reduces utility bills. Don’t neglect your electrical distribution system. Consider an EPM program — before a costly failure occurs.
Why Routine Electrical Maintenance is Important
The electrical wiring of your home is out of sight and it is one of the important reasons why maintenance is often set aside. The wires suffer wear and tear over time and its impacts on the appliances and equipment that operate on the circuit. You will eventually have to deal with electrical problems that you used frequently. The best way to avoid these type of complications is to hire electrical services in Sylvan Lake for regular electrical maintenance. After you find a good electrician, it will be easier to perform an annual inspection of your property’s power system.
Here are 4 benefits of regular inspection of your property’s electrical works.
Reduced Energy Costs
If the appliances are working properly, it uses less energy which will save your money. The outdated electrical system and faulty appliances may need to sue more power to work continuously. It can drive up your electric bill automatically. If you let the electrician perform maintenance works regularly, the electrical items at your home are kept in the best working condition. The electrician can also suggest some ways to save energy with the use of technological advancements.
Electrical incidents and wirings spark home fires. Outdated electrical systems, fixtures, and wirings are the root cause of these types of accidents. So having an annual checkup of the power system will make sure that the power source, wirings, electrical lines, and outlets are functioning properly and up to date.
Protection of Appliances
Whether you are using a four-door fridge or a mini-fridge at your home, you have spent quite a good amount of money for it. So obviously you would want to make good use out of it. If you don’t do regular maintenance, it means you are waiting for your appliance to die before its lifetime. Every piece of equipment you have at your home comes with a manual that states that their recommended maintenance works and how often it should be done. Make sure you discuss all of this with the electrician so he can schedule the visits accordingly.
If you want to maintain control of your home or the productivity of your business, a major electrical problem can cause a major problem for you. Electricity runs all your appliances that include the important ones like refrigerator, desktop, and air conditioning system. If the damage has worsened, then it can take some days to get the power working again. It means less productivity for those people who are working from home. It can discomfort them at times when you should actually be relaxing after a long tiring day.
Electrical problems can be dangerous for you, your house and your electrical equipment. The first step to troubleshooting one, whether it’s an outage, flickering lights or power surge, is to ask the neighbors if they are having the same problem.
Some Silent Signs Your Home Has Major Electrical Problems
These warning signs aren’t loud, but they are serious. Here are quiet clues that your home may have a major electrical problem.
Many electrical appliances generate heat during operation. However, the outlet itself should never get hot. If you notice heat at an outlet, immediately unplug any cords and do not use the outlet until you can troubleshoot the issue.
It’s probably no surprise that the smell of something burning should be an immediate warning sign! If the wiring in your electrical system is heating up enough to melt its plastic sheathing, you’re facing an imminent risk of fire and you need to take immediate action.
Improperly Grounded Flexible Gas Lines
Corrugated stainless steel tubing (CSST) or “flex line” is a popular choice to supply gas throughout your home. But it’s important that it is properly grounded to avoid disastrous blowouts. An electrical surge, most often in a lightning strike on or near your property, can potentially rupture the corrugated tubing, leading to a gas leak or explosion.
Ungrounded = Shocks
While we’re talking about grounding electrical systems, it’s worth noting that you may have grounding issues on a wider scale than just your gas line. If you touch a metal object connected to your home’s mechanical system and receive a shock, it’s a strong sign that your electrical system is not properly grounded.
Common Electrical Problems in Your House: Harmless or Hazardous?
Loose Outlet Plug
Turn off the breaker. Double check for voltage to the outlet (use a volt meter or plug something in). Unscrew the cover plate and add outlet shims until the outlet is flush with the wall.
Broken Light Switch
Turn off the circuit breaker (the light will go out when you choose the right one). Use a flathead screwdriver to remove the faceplate and a Phillips head to remove the light switch. Test the two wires connected to the screw for electricity. If it’s safe, disconnect and reassemble the light switch.
Simple Short Circuit
Some electrical appliances, such as hairdryers, can frequently trip or short circuits. Reset the breaker. Repeated occurrences with the same appliance indicate it’s the appliance – not the electrical system. Without the appliance? A short in the wiring or receptacle needs to be addressed by a pro.
Cut or Damaged Extension Cord
Unplug both ends. Cut off the old plug. Gently score and peel back the insulation jacket. Strip each wire with a wire stripper, twisting each wire tightly at the end. Screw them into the back of the plug: black to gold; white to the silver screw; green to the green screw. Then close the plug and secure the wires. Cut in the middle? Purchase extra ends and turn the damaged cord into two new ones.
Flickering or Dimming Lights
This could be a sign of a poor connection and can lead to eventual arcing – loose/corroded connections making intermittent contact that could result in sparking, overheating, and fire.
Light Bulbs Burn Out Frequently
If you’re experience frequent bulb blowouts, it could be more serious than overuse. You may have a loose connection in the socket or circuit. Recessed lights that frequently fail? Nearby insulation could be causing overheating and these fixtures are designed to shut off to prevent fire.
Dead outlets can result from a tripped poor connection (and possible arcing), or a tripped breaker due to excessive heat buildup resulting in melted wires or outlets.
Warm Outlets or Switches
Unless it is a dimming switch, warm outlets are as a serious safety concern and should be addressed by a pro immediately.
Frequently Tripping Breakers
Usually a sign the circuit is overloaded and using too much electricity. You should add a circuit or consider upgrading your electrical service.
Most Common Electrical Problems and Solutions
Transients, which are commonly known as surges, are the lighting-fast striking of light. These are caused by high-voltage disruptions in the flow of electricity. They occur for a split second. Transients can damage any electronic devices that are connected at the moment.
If the transients continue happening, it is probably time to get your electrical connections checked. Otherwise, these transients are nothing to worry about if they have stopped.
Check if there is anything wrong with your wires and consult with an electrician if the transients keep going on.
Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping
If your circuit breaker keeps on tripping, chances are they have detected some issues in the current circuit.
That is where they get the name ‘circuit breakers’ because they break up circuits when they sense that there is something wrong with the flow of current.
What you need to do is find the main electrical panel in your home (because that’s where all the main control switches are). You will see a switch panel that has its switch turned off (for old switches) and partly off (for modern switches). You only need to flip the switch back on and voila!
Frequent Bulb Burnouts
Are you tired of changing your bulb every now and then? It seems like the bulbs you’ve been buying are not as good as they were. But don’t blame the bulb. It can actually be another electrical problem at your house.
There are a lot of reasons why bulb lights burn out much frequently. It can be due to high voltage, tightly fixed bulb, improper air circulation, and so on.
What you can do is check if the holder is either loose or it’s depleted. But if everything is fine and one bulb after another keeps going to waste, we suggest you consult with an electrician right now to save more bulbs from burning out!
Some Wiring Problems Solved
Remember: Anytime you work with wiring, be sure to turn off the circuit at the main breaker panel.
What it means: A light fixture has a bulb with a higher wattage than the fixture is designed for.
Danger level: High. The bulb’s intense heat can scorch or melt the socket and insulation on the fixture’s wires, which increases the risk of arcing — sparks that jump through the air from one wire to another — a chief cause of electrical fires. The damage to socket and wires remains even after the bulb has been removed.
Solution: Stay within the wattage limit listed on all light fixtures made since 1985. For older, unmarked fixtures, use only 60-watt bulbs or smaller.
Uncovered Junction Box
What it means: Because a junction box houses the splices where wires are connected to one another, a person could inadvertently damage the wires or get a shock
Danger level: Minimal, as long as wires aren’t within reach.
Solution: Spend a few cents to buy a new cover and install it with the screws provided.
Lights Flicker When It’s Windy
What it means: Frayed wiring in the weatherhead (the outdoor fitting where overhead cables from the power line come into the house) is causing a short whenever the cables move.
Danger level: High. Aside from the annoyance, the frayed wiring can arc and start a fire.
Solution: Contact the electric utility, which may replace the weatherhead at no charge.
What it means: You have a type of wiring, used in the 1960s and ’70s as a cheap substitute for copper, that is no longer considered safe.
Danger level: High. Aluminum corrodes when in contact with copper, so connections loosen, which can lead to arcing and fires.
Solution: Retrofit a dielectric wire nut approved for aluminum wire (a pair sells for less than $1) onto each copper/aluminum connection in light fixtures. These nuts have a special grease that stops corrosion while maintaining conductivity. Make sure any replacement switches and receptacles are labeled AL-compatible.
THERE are many practical hints in this little book which appeal to common sense, although from the point of view of the ordinary electric wireman they are quite unorthodox. The author points out, for example, that the wiring of many houses is spoilt by placing the wall sockets indiscriminately without regard to the position or character of the apparatus to be connected to them. It is as absurd to place the wall socket for a floor standard lamp or vacuum cleaner three feet from the floor as to put one for a table standard at floor level, if the table is to be against the wall. It is quite right to put the wall socket for an electric fire on the skirting, but the almost universal practice of placing the switch there as well is foolish. It is true that this saves the cost of a wood block and a few feet of wire, but this saving of a shilling or two on capital cost is only effected by compelling people for ever afterwards to stoop down to the floor when they want to switch on or off the electric fire. The book finishes up with a useful chapter on bells, telephones, fire alarms, and radio. As a rule, it is advisable to have all these kinds of wiring done before the building is actually furnished. In the case of telephones, however, it is sometimes difficult to tell which is the most suitable place for them before the house is furnished, and hence surface wiring is very frequently used for telephone work. The proper wiring of all electric radio receiving sets deserves special care. Unless the Institution of Electrical Engineers Wiring Regulations, published in June 1928, be followed, there may be danger from shock or fire.
Electrical Safety Tips
Before you tackle any electrical task, review these top safety concerns.
When installing or using your electrical system, there is always the chance of shock. Now there will be some DIYers who are comfortable with basic wiring practices; however, unless you’re absolutely qualified for system installation, DIY recommends you leave the installation of your home’s electrical system to licensed electricians.
Not only will a licensed electrician make sure your electrical system meets with all required safety codes, they can also oversee the installation of common safety products. For example, one of the most common items added to your electrical system is a ground fault circuit interruptor — or GFCIs for short.
By installing a ground fault circuit interruptor — or ground fault circuit breakers — you can protect areas that may be moist, such as bathrooms and kitchens. A ground fault interruptor is an electrical device designed to protect you from serious injury due to shock.
GFCIs constantly monitor the electricity flowing in a circuit. Should that current be interrupted for any reason — or waver by even the slightest amount — the GFCI will instantly shut down the current flowing through that circuit.
Note: A GFCI will respond to a current variation too small for even a circuit breaker or fuse to detect.
Along with GFCIs there are a number of simple precautions you can take at home that will prevent injuries related to your home’s electrical systems. Here’s a rundown:
Always remove cords from a socket by grabbing the plug. Never tug on an appliance cord. Removing cords in this fashion can lead to fraying, and frayed cords can cause electrical shock.
Frayed cords that are under or on carpet can cause a fire and should be replaced or repaired.
Always use the recommended wattage bulb in lamps and light fixtures.
Avoid using electrical appliances in wet places. If you must work in a wet or damp area, always use a portable GFCI outlet for the needed appliance.
Never overload an outlet.
Make Your Home Safer with an Electrical Wiring Upgrade
Electrical wiring can be hazardous in your home if it is outdated or damaged. Faulty wiring and overload power strips can cause an electrical fire. And if you have unprotected electrical outlets, it can burn or shock you if you accidentally touch it. With these in mind, here are some reasons why you should do an upgrade now and tips on how to properly do it.
Electrical Wiring Hazards to Look For
The first step in doing an electrical wiring upgrade in Singapore is to inspect your home and check your existing wiring connections to immediately identify if they pose serious threats to your home and your family.
The most common electrical problems include outdated wiring, electrical appliances left plugged in near water sources, wrong wattage light bulbs, overload power outlets, damaged extension cords, improperly used circuit breakers, and poor electrical installation.
DIY or Seek Professional Help?
Don’t fall into the trap of believing you can save less if you’ll do the upgrade on your own. While there are electric works that you can do yourself, upgrading and updating your electrical wiring in Singapore is certainly not one of those. This kind of job isn’t appropriate for DIY as it is best left to the experts. Remember that only one mistake can easily turn into a disaster and damage your home which can cost you more in the long run.
If you’re living in an old home, it’s strongly recommended finding an electrician who has vast experience working on such homes. The procedure is quite complicated and it requires technical knowledge and understanding especially if your home is30 years or older.
Aside from your home’s age, other signs that you need to call an electrician immediately sparking electrical wires and cables, flickering light fixtures, fuses blowing repeatedly, dimming of lights, burning smell from an appliance, and obsolete electrical panels.
Moreover, when you work with an expert and seek his electrical services, you can have peace of mind knowing that he exactly knows what he’s doing.
Prepare Your Budget
An electrical wiring upgrade can be expensive, but money should not be an issue when it’s necessary for the safety and convenience of your home. It just actually depends on your choice of electrician; so, it’s worth doing your research to find a company or someone from whom you can get the most out of your money.
Hiring one that offers the cheapest upgrade and installation service without considering their experience and skills will only put you at risk. Don’t settle for cheap just to save money. Instead, you should be hiring one with proper qualifications and a proven track record of success and recommendations. And when going through the candidates you have chosen, make sure to break them down into categories to make a well-informed decision.
Let the Experts do the Upgrade
If you still think that you can afford to upgrade your electrical wiring in Singapore on your own, pushed that thought away. When it comes to dealing with wiring works, always call in the experts.
Different Types of Electrical Wirings
When you want to change the wiring of your home, you will have the choice of selecting from several kinds of wirings available in Singapore.
Even if you hire a professional to do the wiring/rewiring, you can still give your opinion about the kind of wiring you want. The different kinds of electrical wiring which are available in the market are listed below:
Non-Metallic Cables (NM Cables)
NM cables are the most common types of wires which are used in houses and residential buildings in Singapore. They contain three types of wires distinguished by different colors.
A red or brown wire inside the cable signifies a live wire that carries the current. A black or blue wire is the neutral wire and a green or yellow one signifies the ground wire. These types of cables are usually suited for dry spaces such as rooms of houses or offices.
Underground Feeder (UF)
Underground feeder can be considered a subclass of NM cables with the difference being that in UF cables, each of the three wires are covered individually by a solid plastic sheathing.
The three wires are the same as NM cables namely a live wire, a ground wire, and a neutral wire. All these three wires are covered separately as opposed to the NM cables where they are enclosed together. UF cables are mostly used for wet and damp areas such as the kitchen, bathroom, or other exposed areas.
Conduits are the types of wires which are mostly used in houses but not as part of the inner wiring of the house. These wires and cables are visible on the walls and ceilings of the rooms. In these cables, the electric wires are encased in a plastic or metallic tube.
They are insulated by a layer of nylon which gives them the thermoplasticity that makes them highly heat resistant. Because of their good insulation, they can be used in dry as well as wet places.
Low Voltage Wires
Low voltage wires basically comprise two set of wires that are used for those sockets and circuits which are of low voltage. They are enclosed in a plastic casing and contain only two wires as opposed to NM cables that have three wires.
Aluminum Coated Lead Wires
For more high-power and intricate needs, aluminum coated lead wires are used. Lead is a heavy metal which does not get easily affected by corrosion or humid conditions. It is coated with an alloy of lead and aluminum making it extra durable and strong. It does not get damaged from extreme weather conditions or other wear and tear like other types of electrical cables.
HOW TO TELL IF YOUR HOUSE NEEDS WIRING REPAIR
Wiring Repairs in New HavenThe electrical wiring in your home is normally present in every room in the house. 1972 and prior built homes contained wiring which didn’t last as long because it was more susceptible to shorting and wear.
The insulation and other materials are likely degraded if your home is this old and hasn’t had a complete rewiring. Regardless of the material, the wiring will eventually need repairs, especially at any point where it connects to something such as outlets, fixtures, or switches.
When electrical wires start to get old, the first problems are usually seen at a point where it connects to something. Common problems include the expansion and contraction of the electrical wiring material over time. Eventually, the connections can become loose and will then need repair. But it’s not always easy to know when something goes wrong.
The problem with electrical wiring is that it is not easily accessible. It runs inside the walls and ceilings of your home. Power then runs through the wire and is controlled by the panel box where your circuit breakers are located. The other side of the wire runs to outlets or fixtures.
Signs Your Wiring Needs To Be Repaired
One sure sign that your outlet wiring needs repair is if you plug something in and it doesn’t fit snugly or it won’t go in all the way. This is a dangerous situation and the outlet should be repaired right away. Electricity can arc from the wiring to you, causing electrical shock. The outlet can also send a surge of power that will short out anything plugged in at the time.
If your lights are flickering when you use the microwave or sometimes won’t respond when you flip the switch, this is another sure sign the wiring is getting old and needs repair. There are times when it’s so old it has to be completely replaced throughout the house. This happens when the insulation that protects each wire deteriorates. Most of the time, there is a simple explanation for this but either way, you will want to have someone qualified to take a look at the problem.
Sometimes the problem can be with a fixture or the item you are trying to plug in. If it’s a fixture that is permanently attached to the home, you will want to have it repaired or replaced. Be sure you check the simple things first such as replacing a light bulb and checking for a tripped breaker.
One time, a lady was at home and heard a loud pop. She went outside to the air conditioner where she thought it came from and the breaker to the unit was black and smoking. Any strange noises or smells warrant a call to an electrician. It is not worth having a house fire due to dangerous wiring. The lady had an electrician check the damage so she found out that the entire circuit had been fried by ants crawling around in the outside A/C breaker box.