When it comes to home maintenance there are many tasks the homeowner must take care of, and the electrical system may not be at the top of the list. Even though the electrical system is easy to overlook because it seems it’s just always there and working, many issues can arise that may cause problems throughout the home. Maintaining your home’s electrical system can help you save on energy costs and keep you and your family safe. Throughout my two decades as a residential electrician in the Valley here are a few things I always tell homeowners.

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Check your outlets

The outlets throughout your home are constantly in use charging your devices and powering your appliances. Since these power outlets are used so much it is best to check and test them at least every couple of months. You can purchase an inexpensive outlet tester from any hardware store to check if the outlets are working properly. You also want to check the outlet plates to make sure they are not damaged, don’t have any burn marks and that they are secured flush to the wall. Don’t forget to also check your outdoor outlets and any outlets that you don’t use on a regular basis. If you find any issues with your outlets contact a licensed electrician to get to the root of the problem.

Unplug Appliances

As you check the safety of your outlets unplug any appliances or devices that aren’t in use. Unplugging devices has many positive effects on your home’s electrical system. It can help extend the life of your appliances, save you money on your electric bill and prevent damage in case of a power surge. Unplugging your appliances can also help prevent potential electrical fires. When devices are plugged in, even when not turned on, they are still drawing power. So, it is best to unplug these devices when not in use which will help you save money in the long run.

Check your extension cords

Using extension cords for your appliances and devices might seem like an idea but it is easy to overload them without even realizing it. If you notice your extension cords producing heat or have high electricity appliances plugged into these cords, it is time to reconfigure your power layout. Plug major appliances directly into the wall. For smaller devices like televisions, computers, and sound systems use a surge protector. If you notice you are using many extension cords throughout your home, then it is time to reconfigure how you are powering your devices. Extension cords are a great help when an outlet isn’t nearby, but they can overload your electrical system causing your circuit breaker to trip. If you aren’t sure about your use of extension cords regarding electrical capacity contact a professional for advice.

Pay attention to flickering lights

Many reasons can occur to cause your lights to flicker. An old light bulb, a loose connection or even a faulty light switch may be the cause. These are easy to fix. The problem comes when it is a much more serious issue like an overloaded circuit. If you notice your lights flickering when you turn on a major appliance, for example your air conditioning kicks in, it is time to call an electrician. The circuits providing power may be overloading your system which can lead to potential dangers. 

Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors

Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are your first line of defense when it comes to fire safety and the potentially deadly gas. Keeping these devices in working order is crucial to you and your family’s safety in the home. Luckily these devices are easy to maintain. At least once a month use a can of compressed air to clean out any dust build up on the detector. Secondly, test the devices by pressing and holding the button until you hear a loud alarm sound. If you do not hear the bell replace the battery and test again. If the device is hardwired into your electrical system, it will also have a battery backup so always check the battery first before replacing the entire device. If you still do not hear a sound, it is time to replace the device. Testing of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors must be done twice a year says Steve Lockwood of Mountain State Fire Protection LLC.

“I always tell homeowners to test their detectors at least twice a year,” Lockwood said. “In most parts of the country, it is standard to check these devices when the clocks change but we don’t have that here in Arizona. So, I tell people to check them once in the Spring and then once again in the Fall and to change the batteries or replace the device as soon as they know it isn’t working properly.”

When it comes to electrical issues it is always best to lean to the side of caution. Home electrical problems can lead to potential dangers which is the last thing you want. Keeping up the maintenance on your system can help prevent problems and save you money on your electric bill. Remember if you have any electrical issues in your home, it is always best to contact a professional.

Author: Justin Page is the Electrical Manager of SAK Electric Plumbing Inc in Apache Junction, Arizona. SAK Electric Plumbing Inc has been serving the Greater Phoenix area for over three decades.