In the world we live in today, most of the things we do are powered by electricity. It is all around us, making our lives more comfortable. As we become more reliant on electricity, we find that there are more electrical problems now than ever before.
Helpful read: HDB Electrical Works Guidelines
In this article, we go through the common electrical problems at home and how you can set up preventive measures to avoid these problems.
Electrical Surges on a Regular Basis
Electrical surges can be caused by anything from power line damage to malfunctioning equipment to poor electrical wiring in the apartment.
While the surge may only last a fraction of a second, numerous surges can harm the electrical components linked to your home, dramatically diminishing their life expectancy.
If you frequently experience electrical surges, the source is most likely an electrical gadget connected to the home grid or the cable itself. If this is the case, you should try disconnecting any inexpensive or substandard-quality gadgets from the outlet to check if they are the source of the surges. Another advised method is to hire an electrician.
Common Causes of A Power Surge
There are many factors attributing to power surges, most of them are within your control:
- High powered electrical devices can cause power spikes when switched on or when an unusually high energy component kicks in. This can affect other devices around the home. Examples of such devices include refrigerators and air conditioners.
- Tripped circuit breakers might protect your home but can become a hazard when they are damaged.
- Bad or faulty wiring is also a factor in many power surges. Hence, when you suspect that your appliances have bad or faulty wiring, it is wise to consult a professional to troubleshoot and resolve the problem.
- When power restores after an outage, power may surge as the current flows back to all your appliances. If you experience a blackout, turn your equipment off at the PowerPoint, unplug it and plug them back in one by one after the power is back on.
Helpful read: Electrical Services Cost Guide in Singapore
Risks From A Power Surge
Naturally, anything connected to your electrical outlet will get damaged, such as electrical appliances. The surge may cause the fuse to break and or may even cause permanent structural damage to your appliances, causing them to lose their functionality.
Furthermore, in rare cases, power surges can lead to electrical fires that can damage or even destroy the entire home.
For a power surge that happens in just a split second, there usually isn’t enough time to react and mitigate it. A such, it is crucial to know and read the signs and indications of a power surge.
Signs of a power surge:
- Circuit breaker tripping
- The sudden loss of power of devices
- Appliances having sporadic power
If you see these signs, it means that it is high time to take action and protect your home from future occurrences.
Keeping Your Home Safe From Power Surges
There are several measures you can take to minimise and mitigate the risk of power surges in your home.
- Avoid using cheap or unreliable electronics as this could damage other appliances.
- Use quality safety switches –Don’t settle for cheap power plugs; use high-quality equipment to protect your devices.
- Unplug appliances that are not in use –This is one of the best ways to ensure your risks are minimal, as well as save money on the power bill.
Helpful read: Commonly-Asked Questions for Electricians
Light Switches Not Working Properly
If you face or encounter a light switch that does not work properly, there is a chance that it is wired wrongly, especially if it has a three-way switch.
When this is the case, it means that the circuit for your switch is not connected correctly for it to operate. It is best to consult and seek a professional’s help to resolve the issue. As if you attempt to fix it without adequate knowledge, you might instead put yourself in harm’s way.
If it’s a broken wire, you may want to engage an electrical repair contractor to fix the issue.
Frequent tripping of circuit breakers
Circuit breakers are installed as a preventive precaution to safeguard you and your family from electric shocks caused by high wattage items. As a result, when high-wattage equipment such as ovens, dryers, and other power-consuming items are utilised on the same source, the circuit breaker may trip.
Whenever the circuit breaker fails, check around for the source of the problem and try to remove or unplug the appliance. It is likely that you may have to select a lower setting for the appliance.
Alternatively, while high-wattage gadgets are in use, limit the electrical usage on a single circuit.
The electricity in your apartment must all come from the same source of power. However, all that electricity cannot be supplied by a single line.
The power that enters your home is divided into channels by circuit breakers on an electrical panel. It needs accuracy to be able to run each circuit throughout your home without overloading any circuit breakers. If a circuit breaker is overloaded, it will continue to trip, resulting in the loss of power to an area of your home. If this continues, it is possible that the circuit is still overloaded, or that the circuit breaker needs to be changed. This issue can be solved by hiring a certified electrician.
Preventing against tripping the circuit breaker:
Overloading of power boards is one of the leading reasons of frequent circuit breaker tripping. If your home’s circuit breakers are constantly tripping, it could be due to the overloading of the circuit.
- Do not daisy-chain power supplies.
- Remove any gadgets that are no longer in use
- Distribute your power needs. Do not overload a single circuit.
- • Take note of how you connect gadgets throughout the house — what is in use and what is not.
An electrical shock is a dreadful sensation. Despite the fact that they are usually rather small, anything equivalent to a static shock, they can still cause serious harm to us.
These shocks usually happen when we turn an appliance on or off with our bare hands. A tell-tale sign will be seeing electric sparks coming out of the wires themselves. Electricity naturally flows through us to the earth, causing what we know as “electric shock”. The problem is usually with a faulty appliance with a defective or exposed circuit or damaged wiring.
It is safer to consult an electrician when it happens to prevent getting another electric shock and possible damages to your appliances in your house.
If you find and notice that your fuse has blown, the first thing you should do is to turn off the appliance that the fuse is connected to.
If you are confident in replacing the fuse yourself, be mindful to get a fuse with the same amp back to avoid any complications. In the case where you are unsure of what to do, do seek help from a professional electrician.
A blown fuse could also indicate several things such as your electric appliance is of the wrong voltage or an issue with your wiring. It would be wise to seek a professional opinion and help.
Helpful read: Circuit Breaker Tripping: Causes and Proposed Solutions
The Different Sizes of Fuses
Fuse sizes, like circuit breakers, are determined by the gauge of the circuit wires. This keeps the circuit wires from demanding more power than they are capable of handling.
- For 14-gauge or bigger circuit wires, use a 15-amp circuit breaker.
- For a 12-gauge or bigger wire, use a 20-amp circuit breaker.
- For 10-gauge or bigger wire, use a 30-amp circuit breaker.
It is important to take note that you should never replace your fuse with that of a higher amp, always get a fuse with the same amp for replacement.
How does a Fuse Blow out?
Fuse makers employ a variety of metals to create their products. Tin and alloy melt at low temperatures. This means that the fuse will be blown at a lower temperature. When the centre of a fuse begins to melt and shrink, it is at the risk of being blown. It occurs when there is an exceeding amount of current flowing through it.
What is the reason for a fuse blowing?
When shopping for new appliances for your home, it is important to consider these factors.
Incompatible Electrical Systems & Wiring
Building electrical systems and electrical wiring these days are vastly different from those used decades ago.
Electrical systems in the olden days were less complicated and used less energy. Modern systems, on the other hand, require huge amounts of amperages, which puts a lot of strain on the wiring. If your property still uses old and outdated fuses, chances are you will experience frequently blowing of fuse.
Appliances Need More Amps Than A Fuse Can Support
The electricity which passes through the electrical systems in your home is of a certain strength. It should flow smoothly under normal conditions.
Large appliances, such as television sets, consume more amperage than tiny appliances, such as electric kettles.
When you run multiple pieces of equipment at the same time, they somewhat obstruct the flow. The inbuilt fuses in the circuits can only withstand a limited amount of power. They were created by manufacturers to prevent overheating of the circuits. All of them are equipped with fail-safe features that prevent excessive power from passing through them.
When the mechanism of an appliance fails, it may generate an excess of amperage which its fuses can’t handle. When an excessive amount of current flows through within the electrical system, the wire of the fuse will melt. They’d be referred to as blown fuses. You may need to call in electrical repair experts to replace these blown fuses.
Causes By Nature
Needless to say, every fuse fails as time passes. Replace it to see whether it is the source of the blow. If replacing the fuse does not start up your gadget, it means that your gadget has become faulty.
Different types of fuses
As previously stated, fuses with lower melting points are much more brittle than others. A rush of electric current could lead them to separate.
Light Bulbs That Burns Out Frequently
The most common reasons for bulbs burning out are:
- Wattage being too high
- The insulation being near to the light
- The wiring on both the mains and circuit is bad
- overloading of wattage on a single switch
- If the light is flickering, it is most likely due to a faulty connection on the circuit.
If you find yourself regularly replacing light bulbs, it is worth finding a licensed electrician to help identify the cause of the problem. Isolating the issue might be tricky for an average Joe without the know-how.
Excessive Heat From Appliance
If your appliance is producing excessive heat, it could mean that it is running on too high wattage on the circuit or that the appliance is not correctly insulated.
Lighting that is overheated is a severe fire hazard and should be paid careful attention to.
Helpful read: Signs To Upgrade Your Home Electrical Work
How To Identify Electrical Problems
The existence of an electrical problem in your home might be very inconvenient. For instance, if there is an electrical fault in your refrigerator, the contents, particularly perishable items, will be ruined.
The tripping of circuit breakers is one of the most common sources of electrical difficulties that service technicians must deal with in the home. When this occurs, you will require the assistance of a local electrician. Other small concerns can be handled without employing an electrician. However, keep in mind that electricity is deadly and that you should exercise caution when tinkering with any electrical wiring system.
Each time you see that an electrical appliance is not working correctly, you do not need to pick your telephone to call an electrician immediately. Begin by checking whether it is turned on before you conclude it is an electrical fault; some of the time the bulb might be burned out.
Try to fix an alternate device into the same circuit to see whether you will get distinctive results. You may also need to try and see whether the problem is limited to one appliance in the house, or it affects the entire system. If the problem appears to involve the whole house, there could be an issue for the power company, and you might need to call them as opposed to calling in an electrical contractor.
Identify the Circuit
The following thing you will do is to check the breaker box to check whether everything is intact or there is a circuit breaker that could have tripped or maybe a blown-out fuse.
Most circuit breaker boxes have charts indicating specific outlets. Before any work can be done, the qualified electrician needs to painstakingly inspect the circuit before resetting the breaker so you can recognise what appliances you plugged in there.
There are a few high-energy appliances that can cause simple trips, while others will prompt more severe issues. It is essential to inform your electrical services contractor before you reset just to make sure you are making the best choice.
Inspect the System
You may choose to engage an electrical inspector in Singapore on Homees for this. When you identify a problem, it’s time to do troubleshooting. Switch off the power entirely and let others know that you are working on the issue.
At this point, it is safe for you to troubleshoot the electrical system and check whether there are any torn wires or free connections that could have caused the problem. Be that as it may, you should know your limits as a layperson and once you see the problem, request that a qualified electrician fixes it.
One other common mistake most homeowners make would be to overload their electric outlet. This is how you put a strain on that single electric outlet, and it is also dangerous. A most home fire is a result of overloaded electrical outlets.
Tell-tale signs that you are overloading your electric circuit:
- You notice that your light bulbs are flickering or dimming
- Your circuit breaker trips frequently
- You experience mild shocks when you touch or turn your electric appliance or switch on
Measures To Better Prevent Your Electrical Outlets From Overloading
- Only have one item plugged into your outlet if the electric appliance is a major or huge one
- Avoid using multi-converters as you will tend to overload your electrical outlet
If you find yourself having to use extension cords for most areas in your house, it is an indicator that you have too few electric outlets in your house. If you feel like you will need more electrical outlets, do spend that extra money to hire an electrician to install more outlets in your home.
Appliances, Plugs, and Extension Cords
- If you have unused appliances, it is best to unplug them until you need to use them.
- Do not pull on your appliance’s cord when attempting to remove them from the outlet; this could damage the wiring unintentionally
- Ensure that your electrical appliances and wiring are away from any damp areas or water puddles.
In Case of a Fire
One of the worst mistakes that you can make in the unfortunate event of a home fire would be to put it out with water. This is dangerous as you risk electrocuting yourself, especially if the fire is caused by a faulty electrical outlet or near electrical outlets and wires.
It is wise to have a fire extinguisher in your house that has an A-B-C rating. These fire extinguishers are safe to use on electric appliances, outlets and wires.
Ultimately, it is worth it to pay due diligence on your electric system. It ensures not only your family’s safety but also those around you. Keeping you and your family safe from these electrical hazards is not tedious and can be achieved easily.
Protection for Little Ones
If you have kids at home, it is especially important that you babyproof and be mindful about what electrical appliances and outlets you have around the house that they can reach.
One way that you can baby-proof and prevent your young ones from playing with the electrical switches or accidentally shocking themselves from the electricity is to get plastic covers and proper wiring to cover your electrical outlets.
Also, it is wise to keep away any electrical cords or wiring that could be peeping out to prevent them from tugging or biting on them.
How and What Happens When You Upgrade Your Electrical System
- When you upgrade your electrical system, what happens is that you are essentially changing the electrical panel. What the change and upgrade in your panel do is that it allows for more electrical current to flow through from the utility into your home.
- This step is common and much needed especially if your home is that of an older estate. Living in an older estate means that your electrical outlets are probably outdated. The electric current that flows through is lower than what is required to cater to the new and modern electrical appliances.
- With an upgrade in your electric panel and having more electricity running through your wire, you will also have to upgrade and replace your meter and circuit breaker. This will better accommodate and safeguard your home from any short circuits and trips.
- At times, when your update and upgrade your electrical wiring and outlets, you may also have to install more circuits to distribute the electricity around your house better.
Helpful read: HDB Electrical Works Guidelines
Why Should You Upgrade Your Electric Wiring and Panel?
Having an old electrical system puts you at risk of potentially having a fire hazard. One of the leading causes of a house fire is bad wiring. This is common in older estates or when your wiring has just worn and frayed, becoming exposed. In addition, if you place items that are flammable or that could ignite a fire, you risk facing a house fire.
Another danger that comes along if your wires become exposed would be that you could accidentally electrocute yourself. When you start to see exposed wires, it means that there are holes in your wire’s insulation. This insulation serves as a protective layer that prevents users from being electrocuted.
Thus, with your wires exposed, it means that the insulation is damaged or “gone”. This is extremely dangerous for anyone using or being near the electrical outlet or appliance, especially so if you have young kids or the elderly living with you.
Your electrical appliances damaging much more easily/have a shorter lifespan
Many people are not aware, but having faulty or damaged wiring will shorten the lifespan of your electrical appliances. This is because the wiring will not be able to support and effectively transfer the electric current to your appliances or transfer the wrong amount of current. All these factors will eventually cause your appliance to spoil.
Consider Hiring a Professional for Your Electrical Works
When dealing with electrical jobs, it might be wiser to spend and hire a professional electrician to sort out and help you install your electrical works. This is because
It is safer for you
Working with electricity is dangerous. If you do not take the necessary precautions and do not have the right expertise, you might put yourself in danger.
You know that the job will be done correctly
Hiring a reliable and certified electrician will ensure that you get the job done right the first time. This will not only save you the time in trying to figure out how to get the job done, but it also saves you money in trying to get it fixed yourself and end up having no progress.
Safety in the long-run
If an electrical job is haphazardly or incorrectly carried out, it will lead to safety hazards in your home. This not only puts you in danger but also those using the appliances. Safety hazards include electric shocks and fire.
Helpful read: Engaging A Good Electrician
HDB Electrical Works Guidelines in Singapore
Before hiring a contractor for electrical works in Singapore, be sure to check out HDB’s guidelines on this area. HDB terms and conditions include requiring all wiring installation work to be carried out by an EMA licensed electrical worker. You can find out more about HDB’s regulation on electrical works here.
Cost of Other Home Improvement Areas
You can check out the cost of hiring professionals for other aspects of your home improvement project. Some of the general cost guides can be found below:
- Electrician Cost Guide
- Handyman Cost Guide
- Plumbing Cost Guide
- Interior Design Cost Guide
- Home Decoration Cost Guide
- Kitchen Interior Design Cost Guide
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