By now, we are all familiar with the importance of preventive maintenance on our HVAC system as well as our water heater. Making sure these important systems are in top shape is essential to the well being of our home. But there is one system that many homeowners forget to properly maintain, the electrical system, and not doing so can be dangerous.
Having items in your home such as your electrical panel and outlets inspected annually is important. In fact, every three years new codes are developed for electrical panel safety, so if you have not had your system inspected lately chances are it’s out of date. Small, preventative steps taken each year can prevent big, destructive problems from happening in your home.
“Preventive electrical maintenance in the home is important because typically when anything electrical fails it either stops working altogether or causes a fire,” said John Moore Services Quality Control Manager Mike Pace. “You want to make sure you catch things before they become an issue, and that is especially true with anything electrical.”
As all Houstonians know, we have a very high humidity level that lasts for most of the year, and with high humidity comes a lot of problems for our electrical panel. A high moisture level has the ability to corrode a lot of things faster, and this includes breakers. Often, breakers can be extremely corroded and in horrible condition but will still be feeding power. That means that when they trip, there is a big chance they will not work properly.
According to Pace, hiring a professional electrician to come to your home once a year and inspect your breaker panels is the most important thing.
“Being as most panels are made out of aluminum components they will corrode much quicker and easier than the ones that are made of copper,” said Pace. “We offer a panel tune-up/restoration which means we will go in and put a deoxidizer on all aluminum components that will keep them from corroding, and we also tighten all connections.”
Along with watching out for corrosion buildup, it is also important to exercise your breakers annually. Opening up your panel and turning each breaker on and off will ensure that all parts are able to move and are in good condition. Just like a car, if breakers sit in the same position too long, they want to stay in that position and will probably not trip when you need them to.
A popular saying among electricians is “loose wires start fires.” If you have a bad plug, connection, or if you hear a soft buzzing sound coming from an outlet, that means that something inside is overheating and you are going to have a problem, possibly even a fire. Also, GFCI outlets, which are most commonly found in the kitchen, bathroom, and outdoors, have a test and reset button that should be used once a month.
“In typical residential wiring the circuit is daisy chained into the plug. That means that if you have 10 plugs on one outlet, that same amount of power is going through each plug,” said Pace. “If you have a loose connection on that outlet, then it could burn up and destroy all 10 things that are plugged in and possibly more.”
To test outlets to make sure they are functioning properly, you can purchase a plug tester. It is a device that has three lights on it that you plug into an outlet. Once you plug it in, it will tell you if the outlet is good or bad based on how many lights turn on. It’s important to check your outlets often, because you never know when something inside will become loose.
“People should also be cautious about what they are plugging into each outlet. If you have a deep fryer, coffee pot, and a toaster oven plugged into the same outlet, that’s obviously not good,” said Pace. “Every homeowner should know where their circuits are and how they are split up so they can make sure they are not overloading anything. Calling an electrician out to show you this is easy and doesn’t take much time, but it’s really important.”
Pace also recommends never jerking a cord out of a wall, and every time he goes on a call he checks each outlet to make sure the homeowner isn’t doing so. Inside each outlet are two metal blades that hold the cord into place. If you pull a cord out of the outlet from across the room, like a vacuum cleaner cord (something we have ALL done before) it bends the metal blades inside, causes the outlet to become loose, and creates a fire hazard. Eliminating this bad habit is an important part of preventive electrical maintenance.
Electrical work is complex and certainly isn’t as easy as changing a tire, that’s why it’s important to hire trained and certified electricians do to the job.John Moore Services has qualified professionals who will conduct routine maintenance on your whole electrical system to make sure it is working in prime condition. Give us a call today!