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Simple Home Electrical repairs

on January 15, 2016

Simple Home Electrical RepairsUnless you designed it yourself (and sometimes, even if you did), there will always be one or two things about your home that can use changes or upgrades over the years.  The electrical system for your home is no different.  The number of electrical repairs, upgrades, and additions required to make your home more like how you want it increases the older your home is.

The good news is that it isn’t all that difficult to fix some of these problems.  Some of the fixes come with upgrades you want to make anyway if you do it correctly.  So today, let’s take a look at three common household problems that you can fix simply or professionally.

Lack of Outlets

It never fails, you start setting up a new TV, computer, or sound system only to find out that the nearest plug is on the far wall.  Often that leaves you with re-ordering the room and constant glare from a nearby window.

Overlamping

Hot light switches and fixtures, lights that dim when fixtures are turned on, and a very audible hum are all signifiers of one common problem: overlamping.  An overlamped fixture is one where the wattage of the light bulbs in the fixture is higher than the rated wattage for the fixture itself.  In many cases, this can cause a breaker trip if the difference becomes too great or the wiring becomes too hot for the amperage to keep up.

It’s not something we think about that closely.  The socket fits, so a 100-watt lightbulb is fine.  That is, until you plug four of them into a ceiling fan.  Most light switches are rated for 600 watts at most.  Ceiling fans are typically designed to house light bulbs that are roughly 60 watts.  Adding 400 watts to the system can trigger overlamping.  The best case scenario is that your bulbs don’t light up fully, the worst case scenario is an electrical fire due to overheating.

Fortunately, you have three options here:

  • Change the fixtures and wiring to accommodate the heavier load
  • Reduce the load by switching to lower-wattage light bulbs
  • Switch to CFLs or LED lights to reduce wattage

Though you should keep in mind that LED and CFL light bulbs aren’t guaranteed to work on dimmer switches.  If you’ve been using a dimmer in your home, check to make sure that it’s rated to work with LED lights in advance.  Otherwise you’ll find yourself dealing with flickering lights and buzzing electrical circuits.

Flickering Lights

Maybe it’s because they’re so visible, but lighting consists of the most commonly noticed electrical problems in the home.  Because your lights are tied directly into your home’s electrical system, they can be a great way to figure out if something is wrong with your home’s electrical system.  Flickering, dimming, or buzzing lights are some very common complaints that we get.

Incompatible systems are a common cause of buzzing and dimming lights.  Of course, with the prevalence of LED lights in homes, this has become more common-place.  Dimmer switches are usually the reason for problems with your lighting.  LEDs have special drivers built into them that don’t respond well to the typical method for incandescent dimming.  If you’re having issues with your lighting and a dimmer switch is connected to LED lights or you have a mixture of light bulb types (LEDs, CFLs, and incandescent lamps all on the same circuit), consider upgrading the dimmer switch to a compatible type or standardizing the bulbs.  You can test this by reducing the circuit down to a single type to see if the problem persists.

Ballast and driver issues can generate a host of problems for your lights.  If your home uses any kind of fluorescent or specialized LED lighting, then an incompatible or aging ballast may be to blame.  Of course, these lights are typically used outside, in garages, or the kitchen so it’s less likely to be a problem in the living room.

Aged or damaged wiring can cause intermittent connections that generate flickering.  Poor connections, and faulty light switches can cause incandescent light bulbs to flicker on and off.  When wiring heats up, it’s resistance changes as well, adjusting how well-lit your room can be.  If your home consists of incandescent lights only, and you still have issues with flicker, dimming, or buzzing, call a licensed electrician to inspect your home’s wiring.


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