Buzzing Into the Holidays

Broken Lightbulb

We're not talking about the "buzz" you may think; we're hinting at the buzz that occupies your outlets: electricity. Last week, we talked about going green for winter and the small steps you can take into energy efficiency that will reduce both your carbon footprint and your utility bill. But there's more to electricity than energy efficient appliances.

Avoiding an Unwanted Seasonal Fright

Halloween is right around the corner, which means you're probably making the time to put up spooky decorations for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. And before you know it, you'll be plugging in Christmas lights and decorations. Is your electrical wiring up to par and ready to take on these additions safely?

As you pull out the seasonal decorations, pay extra close attention to the ones that plug in. Ensure the wiring isn't exposed or fraying, and be sure the plug-in point is secure. A loose plug-in can turn dangerous should the prongs become exposed to the outdoor (or indoor) environment.

6 Signs Your Electrical Wiring Needs an Update

If your wiring is in need of an update, chances are some warning signs will begin to present. Six of the most common signs to watch for include:

  1. Getting Left In The Dark: Most modern homes have circuit breakers, which replaced the older-fashioned fuse box. (FYI: if your home still sports a fuse box, it will be in your best interest to have it upgraded.) It's common for circuit breakers to trip, turning off the circuit automatically. If this happens frequently, chances are something is overloading and exceeding the circuit's safety capacity. It can signal a short in your wiring. If left unattended, the issue could lead to a fire.
  2. Spooky Ambiance: There's nothing wrong with freakish light shows around Halloween (or even planned light displays over Christmas), but if your lights tend to flicker and dim, you might want to track down the source of the problem. If the lights themselves are working properly and the problem persists, it's a good bet that your wiring needs attention. The sooner you get it checked out and repaired, the better—especially with the extra strain of holiday decorations.
  3. Unpleasant Noises: We've all had a lamp or appliance that buzzed while plugged in. Suffice to say, it's not the greatest experience! But if your lamps and appliances insist on buzzing, it could be an indication of an electrical issue. If turning on an appliance results in a slight shock, a vibration, or a buzz, the root problem could be found anywhere from the outlet to the wiring and it should be promptly addressed.
  4. Odd Odors: If you notice the scent of burning plastic or vinyl, you can bet something is amiss. The odor is unmistakable, and in the case of wiring, it could be tough to identify. Odd electrical odors are a major sign that your wiring needs attention, and it's best to address the issue before superheated electrical wiring ignites any nearby materials.
  5. History: How familiar are you with the history of your house? Back in the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum wiring became a popular trend. The unfortunate truth is that this trend became a huge problem. Unlike copper wiring, aluminum expands and contracts as temperatures fluctuate. As a result, it quickly becomes a fire hazard. If your house was built during the 60s or 70s, it's a good idea to check the wiring. If you find aluminum, you (and your insurance company) will be thankful for upgrading as soon as possible.
  6. Staying Grounded: We all know the importance of staying firmly grounded, but it's extra true when it comes to electrical wiring. Back when your house was built, all of the electrical outlets were properly grounded by a licensed electrician. If they hadn't been, the house would never have passed inspection. Nevertheless, grounded wiring can come loose over time. Partial updates to your wiring can even cause untouched areas to become ungrounded. It's never a bad idea to have a professional check the wiring from time to time, just to ensure it's all grounded.

Say No to Shock

Here's a fact that is often underestimated: since electricity was first included in standard home construction, building codes went into effect. These codes have required that all residential and commercial wiring be done by a qualified and licensed electrician.

There's nothing wrong with a little shock and awe, but there's everything wrong with electrocution! Your home is filled with safe DIY projects. Unless you're an experienced electrician, updating the wiring is not one of those do-it-yourselfers. Hiring an expert is more than helpful—it's a necessity.

If your home requires a wiring upgrade, say no to electrical shocks! Hire a professional electrician and save the shock and awe for those killer holiday light displays.

Posted by: TrustedPros
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