Home Electrical Maintenance: DIY Checklist and When to Call a Professional

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Think about the last time you had an electrical outage. With all the spoiled food, flashlight-lit crawls throughout your home, and the unfortunate realization that not even the AC or microwave can offer quick comfort. Sometimes electrical outages are out of human control due to weather and other unforeseen circumstances. Still, other times, a thoughtfully laid-out electrical maintenance plan can be the difference between a big dilemma or simply a blown fuse. Regular home electrical maintenance is easier said than done, and if you don’t know what to look for, you may miss a red flag. 

According to the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI), the best prevention plan is a maintenance plan. With a routine maintenance plan, you can reduce the likelihood of potentially serious electrical issues. ESFI recommends starting indoors with a visual inspection.  

Start With an Indoor Inspection

Inspect all light switches and electrical outlets. 

If you touch an outlet and it’s warm to the touch, discolored, or you can hear buzzing or crackling sounds, you should schedule a professional inspection with an electrician as soon as possible. 

Test your outlets.

You can purchase a receptacle tester from most major hardware stores, or you can try plugging in a lamp. If you have outlets that frequently go unused, or you notice that an outlet has stopped functioning properly, you can test your outlet. If the problem persists, it may be the result of loose or faulty wiring. Call a professional electrician for help diagnosing the problem and making any necessary electrical repairs

Test your GFCI outlets, too. 

GFCI outlets are the outlets with dual test and reset buttons. First, plug in your receptacle tester or a lamp. If it’s working properly, the lamp should be lit. Press the test button; this should make the lamp turn off. Press the reset button, and the lamp should turn back on. 

Check the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke alarms.

Get in the habit of regularly checking the batteries in your carbon monoxide and smoke alarms. It’s important that you double-check your smoke detector and carbon monoxide alarms, so you can remain confident that they will operate properly in the event of an emergency. 

Inspect electrical cords. 

Damaged, cracked, and loose electrical cords are hazardous and must be replaced immediately. If your electrical cords currently run across doorways, under carpets, or through other high traffic areas, it’s a good idea to consult an electrician. You may benefit from additional outlets or other electrical renovations. 

Double-check your light bulbs. 

Lamps and other light fixtures typically come with a recommended maximum wattage. Confirm that your light bulbs do not exceed the listed wattage. It’s also a good idea to double-check lamp shades. Exposed light bulbs can overheat and cause issues if they aren’t properly contained. 

Complete An Outdoor Inspection

Your home’s electrical reliability is not limited to the interior. After you have confidently completed an indoor inspection, it’s important to also complete an outdoor inspection. For consumers’ convenience, ESFI, along with Home Depot, released a safety checklist for outdoor electrical inspections. 

Consult with a tree maintenance company.

In many homes, electricity is supplied through above-ground power lines. If you’ve ever lost electricity due to a fallen tree or branch, you likely know this experience very well. While sometimes this situation is still unavoidable, it’s always a good idea to check your home’s power lines for nearby trees and branches. A professional tree maintenance company can visually inspect your trees and bushes and advise you on the best way to stay on top of your trees’ maintenance needs as they relate to your home’s power lines.

Check outdoor breaker panels. 

While every home is different, some homeowners will have outdoor electrical boxes. It’s important that you don’t touch anything that looks out of place, because live wires can be quite dangerous. For this reason, call a professional electrician any time you notice something out of place, burned, melted, or scorched within your electrical box. 

At Wes Carver Electric, we take pride in our work. An important function of our work is maintaining your home’s ability to meet your needs and keep your family safe. If you are in the habit of performing a routine maintenance inspection of your home’s electrical wiring and you notice anything unusual, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team