03 Oct

Common Wiring Problems: What To Do

wiring problems solved

The mystery in that tangled web of electrical wires behind your walls can be daunting to try to solve, especially if you aren’t sure if wiring problems are the the cause of any trouble you may be experiencing. We’re here to give you some clues on what’s going on and what to do.

Common Wiring Problems:

1) Light bulbs – When a fixture calls for a 60-watt light bulb, and you pop in a 100-watt light bulb, that’s going to give you trouble. The term for this is ‘overlamping.’ The fixture you are putting the bulb in wasn’t made for the stronger wattage, and the bulb’s heat can scorch the socket and cause arcing. Arcing – sparks that jump from one wire to another – is a major cause of home electrical fires. Stay within the recommended wattage for your fixtures. Bonus? This practice keeps you within legal code parameters.

2)  No GFCI’s (Ground-fault circuit interrupters) Ground-fault circuit interrupters shut down circuits in four milliseconds, preventing shock that can be deadly. They are now required in wet areas of a home, such as kitchens, baths, and outdoors. Current code requires GFCI’s within four feet of sinks, and on all outdoor, basement, and garage outlets. Installation of GFCI’s is a service that Metro’s can provide for you.

GCFI receptacle

What a GFCI looks like.

3) Overloading Outlets – If you have an outlet extender plugged into a receptacle, you’re overloading your outlet. The outlet is only meant to handle 20 amps. Overloading the outlets for large household appliances such as garbage disposals and refrigerators can cause the breaker to trip. Spoiled food is smelly and expensive. So, spread the load and see to it that your appliances have their own circuits.

4) Overloading drop cords – You know the house on the block with ALL the Holiday lights? The one you’re fairly certain can be seen from space? Chances are they are using drop cords. Check the rating on a drop cord that you purchase, and be careful not to overload it. The term for how much a drop cord can manage is ampacity. The cheap drop cord you picked up at the dollar store has a pretty good chance of getting overloaded quickly, increasing the risk of fire. Invest in drop cords with the capacity to light up your holiday displays so they can be seen from space safely.

5) Plugs fall out of outlet – This is a bigger problem than you may think. A plug that falls out of a receptacle is a sign that the contacts in your outlet have worn and can no longer hold the prongs tightly. Loose contacts can cause arcing and ignite things nearby. The best approach for fixing this problem is to replace them as soon as possible. Specialty receptacle installation is a service that Metro’s Best provides. A certified Metro’s electrician can recommend what type of receptacle would be best for replacing the old one that is causing you problems.

General Safety Tips:

If you see burned or scorched areas near your outlets, frayed cords, a burning smell, or experience arcing, sparks, or even mild shock, it’s time for a home electrical safety inspection. Download ESFI’s guide for learning about your home’s electrical system and safety here.

Wiring problems can be intimidating when you are faced with fixing them, but as you can see by these examples, they don’t have to be overwhelming. You can always give us a call. We’ll help you sort it out and work with you to make your home as safe and operating for you as possible.


About Karen Mares

A Portlander born and raised, Karen lives in Southwest Portland with her husband and children. Karen has kept journals throughout her life, and she began her personal blog, Random Thoughts From A Suburban Mom in 2007. She hasn't stopped writing since, channeling her passion for words and information into writing and communicating through social media and blogging.