6 Signs of Faulty Electrical Wiring

Whether you are moving into a different home and want to give your old electrical wiring a good once-over, it’s always wise to routinely inspect your house for poor wiring. Natural wear and tear can lead to your electrical wires’ deterioration or poor workmanship in the past could lead to problems today, putting you and your family at risk.

Faulty electric wiring can cause short circuits, damage to your expensive appliances, and even an electrical fire. Depending on the damage, bad wiring could even be causing your devices to overheat, work harder, and use more electricity — AKA, raise your electric bill.

A symptom of bad wiring isn’t just a flipped breaker, though that’s often the most common indication of faulty wires … Here are a few other signs your home’s electrical wiring may need to be inspected by a licensed electrician and repaired or replaced:

1. Frequent Short Circuits

Do you find yourself turning on an appliance and that room of your house loses electricity? Short circuits are often caused by overloads of electricity, wherein your electrical panel cannot safely handle the voltage you are asking it to feed through a single breaker and it automatically cuts the current to protect you against electrical fire. While there are many reasons you could be tripping a breaker, it can be a sign of poor wiring. 

2. Hot or Discolored Outlets

Electrical outlets should never be hot to the touch or appear discolored. If you notice these symptoms, it could be the beginning of a serious problem. It means that your appliances or the wire behind the outlet face are generating excessive heat. If you see any blackened or discolored markings around the outlet facing or it feels warm against your fingers or hovering your hand around it, it’s time to call an electrician. You can also inspect your electrical appliances for discoloration on the cords or plugs.

Not sure how to check your electrical outlets for faulty wiring? Download our e-book, The Homeowner’s Easy Electrical Toolkit, for step-by-step instructions on how to investigate — and how to know if it’s a job for a professional electrician.

3. Dimming Lights

Lights that dim or flicker when other appliances are switched on can indicate an overloaded circuit or faulty wiring. While it might feel like a fun trick, especially around Halloween, it’s important to get this checked out ASAP. It may not always be an indicator of poor electrical wiring — it could be time for an electrical panel upgrade or even a ballast replacement — but it’s wise to get a professional to be certain. 

4. Popping Sounds or Tingling Plug-ins

An outlet that makes an audible “pop” or gives you a pins-and-needles feeling when you plug something in is not a safe outlet. It likely means it’s time to replace the outlet or that there is a problem with your electrical wiring. Call your electrician to get to the bottom of it.

5. Melting Plastic Smell or Smoke

Ever smell a “hot” smell or a melting plastic smell when you flip a switch or plug something in? This is a sure sign of a serious electrical problem, get this checked out ASAP. That means something is burning — like the plastic of your outlet facing or even the protective layer around a frayed write. You don’t want that to turn into an electrical fire; trust us!

6. Frayed Wires

This one seems obvious, but some are guilty of ignoring a frayed wire if it’s still providing electricity or if it’s in an area of the home you don’t often use — for example, your storage room or an attic. Fraying can occur from excessive use, something,  like furniture, rubbing against the cord, or damage from an animal chewing on it like your dog or a wild mouse in the house! A frayed wire exposes anything it touches to metal and electricity and is not safe. 

Poor Electrical Work is Often To Blame

Here’s the thing: electricity always wants to find the easy way out. It will inevitably follow the path of least resistance. If the insulation to a wire is faulty or a part of a bare wire mysteriously becomes exposed, allowing it to touch anything conductive (metal light switch housing, nails, or screws, etc.), the electricity will take that shorter path. This could result in anything from minor annoyances like tripped breakers or GFCI switches to more significant issues like electrical shocks, overheated wiring, and, in the worst-case scenario, a house fire. 

Some of the most likely symptoms of bad wiring jobs include issues like damaged insulation from improper installation (bare wire exposed, nicks in the insulation elsewhere), nail or screw punctures, and, most often, loose or improperly secured connections.

We all want to save some money, but hiring an unlicensed electrician or general “handyman” to do electrical work in your home could leave you in the dark — or worse. Sure, the price may be right, at first, but the risks are far too great. 

If you’ve had work done by an unlicensed electrician or handyman and you are experiencing these “bad wiring blues,” SWFL Electric can help. Contact us today for any of your electrical needs.

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4 Benefits to Upgrading Your Home’s Surge Protection System

If you’re like most of the homeowners we help, you’re suddenly interested in surge protection because you ran into an issue during the last power outage. That wicked hurricane fried your charging phone or computer and now you’re determined to prevent it from happening again!

The cost of a power surge can be devastating—  especially for those who lose irreplaceable digital photos or experience a home electrical fire— but the good news is that the right surge protection system can keep your electronics and home safe in the future. In fact, there are a number of benefits to adding surge protection to your home.

If you’re on the fence about upgrading your surge protection, let us help convince you it’s worth the investment:

1. Surge protection helps protect your expensive technology.

You may know all-too-well that power surges can ruin items plugged into your outlets, but how does it work exactly? When the power that runs through your home experiences a brief spike or few-second surge in voltage, this excess of current sends a shock to that outlet and “overloads” it (and often the devices plugged into it). 

Surges work in mysterious ways. Sometimes they will fry all the devices connected to that one outlet, or affect a series of outlets in your home. In some cases, this overload only weakens connected devices— depleting their lifespan. While your TV may seem fine afterward a power surge, the damage may have still occurred internally, shaving it’s ten-year life-expectancy down to three. Other times, the surge can cause irreparable damage, rendering your technology completely useless.

Think of all the tech you have constantly plugged in… While you might not mind replacing a few lamps, power surge damage costs become expensive when computers, audio equipment, kitchen appliances, and other high-dollar items are damaged. Sometimes even the big players like your fridge or laundry machines can be affected. 

Worst still, some homeowner’s insurance policies don’t cover the damage caused by surges, meaning the replacement costs come directly out-of-pocket. Adding surge protection is the quickest way to safeguard your home’s tech and prevent expensive replacements.

2. Surge protection can keep your precious digital data safe. 

While buying a new printer or coffee maker would be more inconvenient than financially crippling, in the end, things like this can be replaced. It’s when a power surge wipes your devices clean of data that many homeowners panic. 

A power surge is capable of frying memory drives on your devices, and while a tech-savvy repairman may be able to fix the damage, they may not be able to recover data you didn’t have backed up. 

How many photos do you have on your phone? Or important digital paperwork sitting on your computer desktop? While adding these files to the Cloud is a smart solution, installing surge protectors can also help to prevent the loss of your important memories and data.

3. Surge protection reduces the risk of a home electrical fire.

More worrisome still is when a power surge causes such a dramatic surge in voltage that it sparks and ignites a fire! Whether the wires in your walls overheat and are to blame, or the device itself starts to burn through nearby curtains or carpeting, electrical fires are a real and serious threat. 

In fact, electrical receptacles are involved in 5,300 fires every year, causing forty deaths and more than 100 consumer injuries, according to The Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI). Luckily, a surge protection device can help to prevent electrical fires by disengaging power to the outlet when it senses a disruption or fluctuation in voltage.

4. House-wide surge protection devices are an affordable solution.

While you could go out and buy dozens of surge-resistant power strips to protect the devices and appliances in every room of your home, the more convenient and cost-conscious choice is often to install a surge protection device (SPD).

SPDs are installed in your electrical panel or meter and monitor your electrical flow throughout your whole home. If the device senses an impending increase in voltage, it’ll divert or limit the current to protect your devices from overload. They’re a once-and-done install and many come with an impressive warranty. This way, you’re not dealing with a tangle of surge-safe power strips.

Your Solution: Whole House Surge Protection

Rest easy knowing you’ll never have to replace a fried appliance again by installing a surge protection device.

Your friendly electrician can help you to determine your home’s unique wattage needs and add the right setup to your electrical panel or meter for full-home surge protection.

If you’re a SWFL resident, explore our Surge Protection services or give us a call at (239) 307-0716 for a fast quote, today. 

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What Exactly is a Power Surge & How Does Surge Protection Work?

Have you been unfortunate enough to leave your phone charging during a hurricane only to come back to a damaged device, fried from an unexpected power surge? Or was there a car crash on your block that struck a power pole— burning out your lightbulbs?

While surges don’t happen often, they can significantly wear down or permanently damage your expensive electronics, like your TVs, computers, appliances, and more.

In this post, we’re here to help you protect your precious appliances by explaining exactly what power surges are capable of and how to safeguard your home from frequent surges this hurricane season.

What is a Power Surge?

Your everyday electrical outlet is designed to pump out a steady current of electricity at all times, ensuring your electronics have the power they need to perform at their best, anytime they’re plugged in. 

But just as a flushed toilet in the room next door or a broken hydrant down the street can affect the output of your plumbing system, there are also situations that can cause unintended changes in a building’s electricity— like your refrigerator’s motor kicking on and tripping a breaker or a lightning strike near a power line.

Events like these can cause the electrical current in your outlets to fluctuate. From a high voltage “spike,” that lasts only a second or two, to a higher level “surge” that lasts a few seconds or more, this drastic change in electricity can damage your plugged-in devices.

What Happens When Your Outlet Surges

Devices and appliances that use electricity have a certain level of electrical current that they are designed to work with. If the level is too low, the device doesn’t get enough power to function correctly. If you’ve ever seen your lights dim for a few seconds then return to normal, you’ve seen this phenomenon. 

But when a high voltage spike or surge hits your outlets, your device becomes “overloaded.” The appliance or tech can be overwhelmed, severely damaged, or fail altogether from the excessive electrical current. 

While sometimes it’s obvious that a surge affected the object plugged in— like a fried phone that won’t turn on— the damage is not always so apparent. A less intense surge could merely weaken your technology and shorten its lifespan… For us, this is even scarier, because you could unintentionally be wearing down all your tech and appliances without proper surge protection.

How Surge Protectors Work

Surges take a tiny fraction of a second before they peak— a slight voltage increase before the big hit— which can actually be detected by a surge protector. 

These devices are designed to sense the upcoming increase in voltage right before it strikes, triggering an instant re-route of electricity away from your vulnerable electronics. 

Simply put, these handy protectors keep that high voltage away from your expensive appliances and tech.

Surge-Safe Power Strips vs. Home-Wide Surge Protection

The best way to protect your home from the potential damage of power surges is to purchase individual surge protection power strips for all your outlets or install a home-wide surge protection device. 

While you may think power strips are the cheaper solution, purchasing multiple surge-protected power bars for every room can really add up. While these strips can be handy, real surge protection starts with your home’s main electric hub— your breaker panel.

That’s where Southwest Florida Electric can help. With years of experience and safety training, our expert electricians can prevent costly and dangerous damages by installing surge protection right into your breaker panel— protecting your entire home from surges and spikes.

While some larger power companies such as Florida Power & Light (FPL) charge a monthly fee for surge protection, when you get it from us, you can rest assured knowing it’s only a one-time charge for long-term peace of mind!

Fried Devices, No More!

Ready to say “bye-bye” to surge worries forever? You could try to fill your entire home with bulky strips— or, you could install building-wide surge protection, with a meter base surge arrester.

If you’re ready for peace of mind next storm, reach out to us on our Surge Protection service page to schedule your installation, today.