You might not think much of the outlets and switches throughout your house, but a lot goes on with your home’s electrical system. Like any other appliance, your home’s outlets and switches require routine maintenance in order to function properly. A well-maintained outlet or switch is not just a matter of functioning electronics, but safety. Damaged outlets can destroy sensitive appliances, shock someone, or worse, start a fire. No homeowner wants to deal with an electrical hazard, and luckily you don’t have to.
How You Can Prevent Electrical Hazards
At least 25,000 of electrical home fires can be caused by a malfunctioning outlet, costing up to $1 billion in damages. Damaged outlets aren’t just an issue of safety, but money, as your outlets and switches can be costly to repair. Old and outdated outlet and switches can also be an unwanted invitation for pests like bedbugs. Luckily with some routine maintenance, you can prevent most electrical hazards from ever happening in your home. Here are six ways to keep your outlets and switches safe
- Test your outlets frequently. Periodically checking your outlets is the easiest way to prevent damages, and catch an electrical problem early. Monitor how your appliances function when plugged into each outlet. If the lights flicker when you’re using an appliance, there could be an issue with your home’s wiring. Outlet testers, which are cheap and can be found at your local hardware store, are an easy way to test your home’s outlets. These testers usually look like a three-prong plug with lights on each prong. When plugged in, this device will indicate if anything is wrong with your outlet. In order to avoid an electrical hazard, it’s ideal to test all your home’s outlets at least once a month.
- Replace old wiring. One potential culprit for damaged outlets or switches might not have anything to do with them at all, but your home’s wiring. Old and outdated wiring not only can’t keep up with your home’s electrical demand, it’s another dangerous fire hazard that should be replaced immediately. Your home’s wiring is complicated and dangerous to work with. If you suspect your home has old wiring, it’s best to have a licensed electrician replace it for you.
- Purchase reliable electrical products. It can be tempting to cut down on costs with inexpensive knock-off electrical products, considering that working with your home’s electrical system is expensive. Replacement parts for your electrical outlets and switches, however, should always be purchased from a reputable retailer. When in doubt, look for a safety certification such as Underwriters Laboratories.
- Don’t repair your wiring. It might be tempting to try and repair your home’s wiring yourself, but unless you’re a licensed electrician with the proper training, you can seriously hurt yourself. Working on your wiring without the proper training can also potentially make the problem even worse. If there is something wrong with your home’s wiring, it’s always best to let a licensed electrician safely repair your wiring.
- Monitor all your outlets. When checking your home’s outlets, it’s important to check all your outlets. This includes outlets and switches hidden in basements, attics, and areas that might be hard to reach. Some of your home’s outlets may never be used because they are hidden, but they can still potentially be an electrical hazard. Make sure to take an inventory of all your home’s outlets and switches, and check them frequently for problems.
- Check the electrical plates. While you can’t directly test your home’s wiring or switches, it’s important to check your home’s electrical plates when maintaining the outlets. Damaged electrical plates are another indicator of an electrical hazard. Make sure to check all your home’s electrical plates for any discoloration, cracks, or burn marks.
Properly Maintain Outlets and Switches
No homeowner wants to deal with a faulty electrical system, especially when it costs you your money, safety, and convenience. All electrical problems start somewhere small, which is why it’s crucial to take proper care of your outlets and switches. If you’re currently experiencing or suspect your home has an electrical problem, it’s always best to hire a licensed electrician. It can be tempting to try and repair your home’s outlets and switches yourself, especially when it can save money. Your home’s electrical system, however, is dangerous to work with. A professional electrician can not only safely and effectively repair your home’s outlets and switches, but ensure your home is safe and functional. Don’t wait until you start smelling smoke, start protecting your house today.