Signs You Should Upgrade Your Electrical System

August 9, 2021
Electrical System Upgrade in Seattle, WA

Whether you have a new or older Seattle home, electrical systems often benefit from upgrades and updates. At Brennan Electric, we are always here to help by providing expert in-home evaluations or walking you through steps to troubleshoot your electrical system. For those homeowners who enjoy DIY projects, we have provided some guidance on common signs that your electrical system needs some attention.

Where to Check for Signs of Problems

The first step for locating signs of problems with your electrical system is to be familiar with the specific components. Make sure that you know the location of the electrical panel and circuit breaker box. Larger homes may have more than one panel and circuit breaker box. The electrical panel is where the major wire connections are made to the city power supply. The circuit breaker box has individual toggle switches for each electrical zone of your home, as well as major appliances, such as your HVAC system, washer and dryer, stove, and hot water heater.

1. Shocks

Do you feel a slight shock or tingling when you unplug a device from an outlet in your home? This is a good sign that the electrical panel needs to be repaired or replaced. The shock is caused by damage to the wiring that allows electricity to leak from the wire. It may be a problem with the wiring just behind the plug or anywhere along the route to the electrical panel.

2. Dimming Lights

If your lights dim when an appliance or other high-amp item is used, this is an obvious sign that your electrical system needs to be updated and modified. Dimming lights tell you that you are using an amount of electricity that is beyond your current system’s capacity. This is a common problem in homes with older wiring or with many outlets that connect to the same circuit. It only gets worse when you purchase more high-amp appliances to add to the system.

3. Smell Something Burning

Electrical problems in your home can produce a distinct pungent odor. You may notice it wafting through your home, or just on occasion. Not only is this a sign that your electrical system needs to be updated, but it is also an early warning sign of a potential fire. In these cases, we recommend that you shut off the electricity at the breaker box and call Brennan Electric right away to have a technician come by to perform the necessary repairs.

4. Extension Cords and Power Strips

Extension cords and power strips have become common devices in modern homes, and you may not notice just how many you use. If you have a power strip or extension cord in almost every room of your home, it’s time to upgrade your electrical system. In addition to installing new outlets, our technician will check the electrical panel and circuit breaker box to make sure that you can safely use all of your devices, computers, and appliances.

5. Circuit Breakers Trip

It is normal to have the circuit breakers in your home trip on occasion, such as during a thunderstorm. What is not normal is when the circuits trip on a regular basis or when you try to use a certain outlet. This indicates that the electrical system in that part of your home is being overloaded. If the circuit and wiring are not upgraded, you risk damaging the electrical system and appliance, as well as increase the chances of an electrical fire.

6. Warm Outlets and Switch Plates

Have you ever noticed that a specific outlet or light switch plate gets warm during use? This is a sign that the electrical system is overloaded, even if the circuit breaker does not trip. The problem may be that the outlet or switch was not wired properly, or there has been damage over the years. A technician from Brennan Electric can check the problem, and let you know the necessary repairs. In many cases, the issue is localized to the wiring just behind the outlet or switch.

7. Burn Marks

Take a look at all the outlets and switch plates in your home. If you see any black marks on the outlet, cover, or the surrounding area, this is a good sign of trouble with the wiring. The black marks are caused by sparks from the wiring, and where there are sparks, there is a significant risk of fire. Another sign to look for is discoloration of the plate over the switch and outlet. This typically indicates that the plastic or metal has gotten warm from electrical problems in the wall.

8. Exploding Light Bulbs

Having a light bulb explode for no apparent reason is alarming, to say the least. Most homeowners assume that the problem lies within the light bulb – perhaps some type of manufacturing defect. Exploding and cracked light bulbs, though, can be signs that too much electricity was fed into the bulb. Another indication is having light bulbs that burn out before the time specified by the manufacturer. Each bulb is labeled with the expected number of hours that it should last. The most common for incandescent bulbs is 1,000 to 2,000 hours. It may be challenging to track how many hours you use a lightbulb, so you can estimate and get a good idea if an electrical wiring issue is causing the problems with the bulbs.

9. High Energy Bills

Each month you receive a bill from your electric company that details your usage for the previous month, as well as a comparison to the same month last year. If you review the details of the bill and can’t figure out why you are using too much electricity, it may be a sign that your electrical system needs to be updated. Increases in utility costs tend to happen gradually, so you will need to keep track and review the bills each month. Some fluctuation is to be expected, so what you are looking for is a consistent, month-by-month increase in the amount of electricity that you use under normal circumstances.

10. Spikes in Utility Costs

Another sign of electrical problems that you can glean from your utility bill is a spike in usage. This is a common issue in older homes. Spikes tell you that there is faulty wiring somewhere in the system. A professional technician from Brennan Electric can locate the problem and recommend the necessary repairs and upgrades. Updating the electrical system in a home is a good investment that keeps your family safe and increases the property value.

Experts for Electrical System Upgrades

Since 1987, Brennan Electric has provided expert, professional electrical services to homeowners in Seattle and the surrounding communities, including installation, repairs, and maintenance. If you suspect that your electrical system needs attention, or if your family’s requirements for safe and reliable electricity have changed, give us a call. We can schedule a time for a technician to come by for an in-home evaluation. Be sure to ask about our generators and surge protection products.

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