Electricity is one of the things we take for granted more than anything else inside our home. Just for a minute, imagine your home without it. No TV, computer, hot water, cooking, lights…and the list goes on and on. As important as electricity is in our daily life, we rarely give it a thought until an electrical problem rears its ugly head.
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While they don’t often present themselves, there are a number of potential electrical problems that can occur in your Ottawa home. Some of the more common ones include: dead shorts, overloaded circuits, miswired outlets, lost neutrals and no ground.
When you have a dead short, the line voltage is immediately going to ground and causing the circuit breaker to trip. When you try to reset the breaker, it automatically trips again. You will usually hear an audible “pop” in the vicinity of the dead short. This is one of the most dangerous electrical problems in the home and should only be troubleshot by someone who has experience working with electricity, such as Ring Electric Inc.
When you have an overloaded circuit, you are drawing more electricity than the breaker is rated at. For instance, if you have a circuit breaker rated at 15 amps and your vacuum cleaner draws 10 amps on that line, simply turning on a lamp, TV or coffee pot can trip the breaker if they too are fed by that line. Circuit breakers are designed to trip when they reach 80 percent of their rating. So basically, a 15 amp breaker should trip when the load reaches 12 amps. If you have a breaker that routinely trips when you turn an appliance on, odds are you are overloading that circuit.
Miswired outlets can cause a variety of problems, from equipment not functioning correctly to the equipment actually becoming physically damaged.
When a circuit loses its neutral, it fails to work properly. You will still read voltage if you use a multitester and probe the hot line to ground, but you’ll get nothing when you probe hot to neutral. This is a dangerous electrical problem to try and fix yourself because you may think that the line is dead when it really isn’t.
While your electrical equipment will still function on a circuit with no ground, both you and your equipment are at risk of being shocked. With no ground to take away the excess voltage in the event of a problem, when you touch the piece of equipment, you will automatically become the path of least resistance and thus, get shocked, or in very bad cases, electrocuted.
One of the easiest mistakes a homeowner can make is to simply reset a tripped breaker without considering what caused it. Circuit breakers do go bad over time, but they very rarely trip on their own accord. When a circuit breaker trips, the homeowner should look for the signs of an overloaded circuit, or if it re-trips immediately, a dead short.
On some occasions, attempting to reset a breaker tripped by a dead short will actually cause the line to blow open at the point of the short. When this happens, the breaker will remain on but from the dead short-on, there will be no power. Plus, you will have a hot line exposed somewhere within your walls, making this a very dangerous scenario.
Every time you reset a tripped breaker, you should determine what caused the event and make sure that your complete circuit has been re-energized.
In the electrical field, the best prevention is always preventative maintenance. If you purchase a new home in Ottawa, make sure you have it fully inspected before moving in. If you have a piece of old equipment with a history of electrical problems, get rid of it. If you have outlets in your home where the ground plug is cracked or broken, replace them. Likewise, replace any switches that feel “soft” or “spongy.”
Many times, simply replacing faulty or damaged items will save you a tremendous headache down the line.
Each of these electrical problems pose a significant threat to someone who is not trained in troubleshooting them. You can do your own electrical repairs and save some money, but following safe procedures is paramount. If you are scared of electricity or you don’t feel comfortable working around it, call a qualified electrician immediately. Each of these problems is serious and require fixing as soon as possible.