Homes need electricity to run efficiently. Thus, you need to ensure you are safe as you use the electricity with your family members. Once a year or as often as you can, conduct an electrical safety check on your home. You can contact electrical contractors to do a thorough check for you. The process is easy and quick, and fixing one single issue, can save a life and prevent property damage. In this article are some things to check off your list at least once a year for an electrically safe home.
1. Inspect the breaker panel
Inspect your electrical panel and the surrounding area. It should have a clear space around it. Open the panel doors to examine the breakers. Check for signs of rodent or rust activity. You can flip the circuit breakers on and off to ensure none is corroded or sticking to prevent them from operating correctly. Notably, remember that power loss is inconvenient for everyone. Therefore, it is best everyone in your house learns to reset a popped circuit breaker safely.
2. Check exterior outlets
It is vital to check the home’s exterior outlets to ensure the seal is tight and safe against animal intrusion and elements. Also, they need to be GFCI protected, and as you run the GFCI tests, they should trip. Also, anything you plug into the exterior outlet should not prop open the weather cover, exposing the connection to moisture or rain. If you need to keep an outlet in use for long, it is best to equip it with a cover that has access holes.
As you conduct your yearly electrical safety check, you need to check the behavior of the electrical devices in your home. If the lights are flickering or dimming, you will have to check on the voltage. It may be a loose wire or something more serious. However, doing a voltage test will help get to the root of the problem. Use a multimeter set or a voltmeter to check the power on the outlet. Reading around 120-volt is standard for residential outlets. Outside this range, it is time to start solving the issue.
3. Test GFCI
If you have outlets around your home with exposure to a water source, it needs to have GFCI protection. It can be an outlet up on the circuit, an individual outlet, or a GFCI breaker in the panel. No matter where the GFCI is on the circuit, it needs to be in a way you can press the test button. To ensure any outlets affected are turn off and safe. If you find it a challenge, contact your electrical contractor to troubleshoot it for you and help you reset your GFCI.
4. Examine the extension cord
DIYers use extension cords the most, but they can pose potential problems. Do not assume them as you do your electrical safety checklist to check for nicks, cuts, and other damage that can occur as you do your DIY or other projects as well. Importantly, ensure the cords you use for power tools are within the amperage rating. If you find a damaged extension cord, it is easy to repair. But, severe damage will need you to replace it.
5. Do the five sense test
Although you can do a visual inspection, do not assume the other senses. Check for excessive heat by placing your hand on light switches and outlets. If there is a burning smell around an outlet or switch, turn off the outlet or switch at the breaker. To verify the power is off, use a non-contact voltage tester. Additionally, if you hear crackling or popping in a switch, turn off the power to the switch or outlet at the breaker. Do not use your sense of taste, just your common sense.
6. Test the tightness of the outlet
Outlets wear out over time like any mechanical device. Replace the outlet with a new receptacle outlet if plugs sit loosely in an outlet, more so, slipping out enough to expose the plug pin. The fix is simple if the outlet itself is loose in the electrical box, as it only requires plastic shims.