What to Do If Things Go Wrong

May 02, 2017

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Electricity is a powerful servant that makes our lives far more easy and convenient than that of our great-grandparents’ day. And, the vast majority of the time everything works just fine. But there are some things we should watch out for in order to avoid potential problems from escalating to major ones.

“It’s important to keep our home electrical systems in good repair and to practice good electrical safety procedures,” said Tom Davis, Rocky Mountain Power safety director. “Part of doing so is paying attention to any interruption in the flow of electricity within the house and knowing what to do if a problem arises.”

  1. Listen to your breaker. A breaker that trips immediately after it’s been reset is telling you that there’s an electrical problem. Sometimes it’s a faulty breaker, but generally it’s signaling a severe electrical problem. If you keep resetting the breaker you’re likely to cause a fire.
  2. Never throw water on an electrical fire. Remember, water conducts electricity and will just spread the fire. Only a chemical fire extinguisher can be used on an electrical fire. It’s a good idea to get training on how to use an extinguisher, the different kinds of extinguishers and to keep an appropriate extinguisher at home. Check with your local fire department.
  3. Lights that flicker or that trip the circuit breaker – Cause: loose wiring or a light fixture that’s worn out and needs to be replaced. Solution: Cut power to the fixture and investigate. Replace the fixture if that is suspect, or have a professional check out the wiring.
  4. Outlet faceplate that’s warm to the touch – Cause: electrical load that’s too large for the outlet, a loose wire or wiring problem, melted connections or burned insulation. Solution: Evaluate the wattage of devices used on that circuit. You may need to more evenly distribute your appliances. If moving appliances to separate circuits doesn’t immediately take care of the problem, have a qualified electrician investigate and make repairs.
  5. Extension cords that are frayed or wrapped in electrical tape – Cause: wear and tear has taken its toll on the cord. Solution: Repair or replace cords.
  6. Wobbly switches or outlet receptacles – Cause: outlet box has come loose from the stud. Solution: Have a professional, licensed electrician check it out and make repairs.
  7. Ceiling fans that slowly wobble – Cause: Fan is out of balance or may be installed on a box that’s not listed for supporting a fan. Solution: Balance the fan or cut power and reinstall the fan, checking for loose, damaged or missing hardware. If necessary, replace box. Consult an electrical supply house or a licensed electrician.
  8. GFCI outlets that trip repeatedly – Cause: a ground fault or a worn out GFCI outlet receptacle. Solution: Move the appliance or tool to another GFCI outlet and test. If the GFCI trips, the appliance or tool is suspect. If the GFCI does not trip, electrical problems are likely. Cut power and investigate for damaged wire or wiring problem. If you don’t find a wiring or splice problem, replace the GFCI. If condition persists, contact a professional licensed electrician.
  9. That second refrigerator in the garage occasionally gives you a small shock – Cause: Many old refrigerators have worn-out insulation on internal wiring. This is common and can be dangerous when the refrigerator is placed on a concrete floor, especially when it can become damp with condensation. Solution: Replace the refrigerator with a new energy-conserving model.

“It’s a good idea to know a reputable electrician and how to contact them,” Davis said. “Licensed electricians are trained to spot problems and fix them safely. Never attempt electrical repairs you don’t know how to remedy.”

For more electrical safety information, check out Rocky Mountain Power’s website at rockymountainpower.net/safety or call customer service toll free at 1-888-220-7070.
 

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